May 24, 2010

Hockey Nations 2010

Hockey Nations 2010 appeared a few weeks ago in the Android Market after making its debut in the Apple Store a few months ago. I didn't see it coming and love sports game so I was elated. However, I decided to wait on the review because they indicated keyboard support was coming. That may have been a mistake as it still doesn't support the DPad (the latest release allows you to use the I, O, and P keys to control passing, shooting, and sprinting, but no directional controls) that I so want to use, but I can't delay reviewing this puppy anymore even if DPad support is (possibly?) planned.

Hockey Nations 2010 is a full featured, 6 on 6 hockey game that fits in the palm of your hand. The game includes some basic instructions such as control layouts and such, but I'd hardly call a few screen shots that explain what the buttons do a 'Tutorial' as it is labeled. The game is easy enough to manage, though, and a tutorial is certainly not needed. You've got a virtual DPad and a sprint button on screen and if you're on offense you can pass or shoot. If you're on defense you can poke check or body check. You can also watch you player's stamina and execute line changes.

The game includes a practice mode that features your team against a goalie so that you can more effectively learn the controls. Shooting involves holding down on the shoot button to give your shot more power. The game also offers a shoot out mode. In shoot out mode you skate down and try to fire a shot past the net minder (aka goalie for non-hockey fans). Your goalie is controlled by 5 basic spots for a shot to be taken (low left, low middle, low right, shoulder left, and shoulder right) being displayed, the computer picking and flashing one, and then you have to quickly click on that spot making it a reaction game. This works well as better or more difficult shots can be represented by decreasing your alloted reaction time.

Naturally there's an exhibition mode for those that don't want to play through an entire tournament. In exhibition mode you pick your county and the opposing country along with difficulty level (there are three) and so forth. It took awhile, even on easy, to get to the point that I could get the puck out of my zone (hint: the sprint button is a close friend). Setting up passes seems difficult, but with a little practice I was finally skating down the ice and taking shots. I lost my first game 3-0 (once again that was on easy mode) which is good. I can't stand getting a new sports game and winning on my first play even if there are higher difficulty levels available.

Face offs are done in a manner similar to goaltending in shoot out mode. A countdown is performed and then the puck is displayed in the faceoff circle and you have to click on it quickly. Miss or act too slowly and the opposition gets the puck.

This game has many options with the practice and shoot out modes to help you get the hang of things all the way through tournament mode (which I have not tried). It takes time to get used to the controls and all that is happening in a game, but it does come and so far has been quite enjoyable. I'm disappointed in the lack of DPad support and find the ability to use my keyboard for only half of the game's controls to be useless... if I'm using on screen controls for moving then I really don't want to have my keyboard popped out for passing and shooting. So far this is a 5/5 star game for me, but I'm reserving final judgment for some more play. But that's a good thing as it means I am and want to spend the time playing it unlike some other games (even good ones) that I tire of all too quickly.

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