Despite rumors that 2K Sports
would be abandoning their ice hockey franchise
for the 2010-2011 season, the decade-old sports game studio announced in March 2010 that they were indeed developing NHL 2K11. The rumors of 2K ceasing development on their hockey video games--which were better received than any other in the previous generation of consoles--were fueled by no NHL game being officially announced with the rest of the upcoming 2010 2K Sports catalog in 2009. Adding more to speculation of a lack of an NHL 2K title in 2010 was the comment from 2K Sports at the time that, "[2K Sports is] currently in the process of evaluating our sports portfolio and have not announced any new NHL titles at this time."
However, it was also announced that it would be exclusive to the Nintendo Wii
and that the once-annual franchise that began back on the Sega Dreamcast
would not see a release on either of the two "hardcore" consoles: the Xbox 360
and PlayStation 3
. It is reasonable to speculate that 2K Sports expected no competition in the realm of licensed ice hockey on Nintendo's home console, but with the announcement of EA
's NHL Slapshot
(a Wayne Gretzky
-endorsed Wii hockey game for 2010), 2K Sports will not be alone in the Nintendo Wii hockey market in 2010.
In the same month that the game was announced, Olympic
silver medalist (as a part of Team USA
) and Vancouver Canuck
Ryan Kesler was announced as the game's cover athlete.
Yet again, 2K Sports is looking to integrate motion control into their NHL game. They are embracing the super-precise Wii Motion Plus
for immersive gameplay, which will allow players to pass, shoot, and deke with one-to-one motion control. Players will also be able to poke check and stick lift as part of the motion control experience, as well as do tricky skill moves like popping the puck into the air and carrying it lacrosse-style.
Road to the Cup
2K's Wii hockey titles have featured mini-games and this will not change in NHL 2K11. However, they will be contextualized by a new mode called Road to the Cup. In Road to the Cup, players (represented by Miis
wearing hockey jerseys
) will compete in various events across cities that have NHL teams to gain fans. Some of the mini-games revealed so far are an obstacle-avoiding skating competition and a hardest shot competition, which will be controlled by players with a swing of their Wii Remote
. Players will receive fans (points) for their performance in the various events with whoever reaching 1,000 fans first gaining an advantage for the final free for all event.
The NHL 2K11 team has stated that they've put a lot of effort into refining various aspects of the game, including better graphical representations of real-life players, jerseys, equipment, and arenas. The developers haven't simply focused on the graphics, however. As is the case with EA's NHL 11
, the game will feature broken sticks, an event that happens fairly often in real life and, in previous years, had been ignored by hockey video games. Fans of hockey games have long been asking for broken sticks to be included in games and in both of the big NHL titles of 2010 they will have a significant affect on the gameplay.
Judging from an E3
trailer of the game that featured wild dekes and moves, NHL 2K11 will yet again have a slightly more arcade-y take on the on-ice action than EA's game, which is regarded as a more faithful simulation of the sport.
360 and PS3 Development
The development teams working on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 NHL 2K games were given an extra year to develop a product to better compete with EA's hugely successful NHL franchise
, which has dominated 2K's efforts in the current generation of consoles in both sales and critical reception. Take-Two
CEO Ben Feder has indicated that there will be an NHL 2K12 for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to be released in 2011.