Another fall means another round of hockey games from the usual suspects, but the rules have changed slightly for 2010.The biggest twist is “NHL Slapshot,” a brand-new, Wii-only game with arcade tendencies that harken back to EA’s early hockey days and a pack-in hockey stick peripheral that makes it a beast of its own creation.
The stick is nothing more than an enclosure for the Wii remote and nunchuck, and those who wish to play “Slapshot” without it can do so with two alternative control schemes. But the scheme designed around the stick _ buttons play a role, but the act of swinging the stick allows players to shoot, check and deke _ is surprisingly fun and, thanks to “Slapshot’s” arcade leanings, plenty precise enough to work.
For those who want “NHL 11” on the Wii, the downside to “Slapshot” is obvious: Even with the more traditional control schemes, this isn’t a sim on that level. But “Slapshot” also isn’t shallow: It has the whole league, some junior clubs, roster management, a season mode, a Peewee-to-Pro career mode, goalie controls, mini-games and a player creator. Don’t let the stick gimmick trick you into thinking “Slapshot” is a one-trick game. It isn’t, and if you want a game that plays like EA’s classic NHL games but has a modern feature set (online play excepted), this is not to be missed.
Wii owners who want something more serious have another exclusive option in “NHL 2K11,” but it’s hard to get excited about a game that’s pulling stand-in duty while 2K Sports retools the series for a 2011 reboot on all three consoles.