While practically every other sport you can think of has graced our touch screens, I find it shocking that there hasn't been one legitimate option for the sport of ice hockey. This all changed last night as Hockey Nations 2010 was released. It boasts 3D graphics and simple gameplay with a fun arcadey feel, but misses the mark in a few key areas and falls just short of being the iPhone's first great hockey game.

Hockey Nations offers two different style tournaments as its main mode. Battle against other nations for a gold medal or international bragging rights. The players are 3D models that look slightly ugly and blocky up close, but look nice during the actual game when the camera is zoomed out. The animations in the game are fantastic, fluid and realistic, and are the high point of the visuals. There's only one arena, and it's graphically passable, but nothing memorable. The only music in the game is some slightly cheesy guitar rock during the menus, and there's barely any noise while playing in a game. Modest crowd murmurs and soft skating sounds are all you will hear, besides the occasional horn and cheers from the stands after a goal.

The game is controlled with just a virtual stick and three buttons. It's not overly complex, but there are a few advanced moves you can perform that are explained in the tutorial. It's a good pick-up-and-play game of hockey, but a couple of glaring issues can replace your fun with frustration. First, the AI is a mixed bag. The opposing team's players seem faster than yours, and are also able to make pinpoint shots and passes with ease. In contrast, the goalie AI for both teams is borderline brain dead. You'll get scored on, only to watch the goalie finally slide into blocking position as the opposing players' arms are raised in celebration. The second issue with gameplay is that puck possession changes far too easily. Most of your time is spent stealing pucks back and forth from each other, and your passes rarely go where intended. It's hard to stay in your offensive zone long enough to get off many quality shots. It can still an enjoyable game to play, but would be much more so if these areas were improved.

In addition to the tournaments, you can practice, play a quick exhibition game, or compete in a shootout. The shootout mode is actually a fairly entertaining mini game, and has each team exchanging one on one shots with the goalkeeper for best out of three.

There are the foundations of a really great game of ice hockey here. The graphics and controls get the job done nicely, but AI issues and some imbalanced gameplay get in the way of true enjoyment. The developer Distinctive Games has stated they are looking into fixing the problems with the game, as well as adding features like line changes, multiplayer, custom teams and fighting. Hopefully updates can improve Hockey Nations 2010 so it can earn its spot as the premier iPhone ice hockey game, without defaulting to that title by virtue of being the only one currently available.

App Store Link: Hockey Nations, $3.99

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarNoneNone
  • Kijib

    Boardumb strikes again...

  • Chad

    Now it needs to come out for the Ipad

  • Kijib

    Boardumb strikes again...

  • Chad

    Now it needs to come out for the Ipad

  • Cookies

    I'll only play this if the violence is awesome and realistic. I want to be able to score by smashing the puck and the legs of the guy controlling it for 6.

  • Cookies

    I'll only play this if the violence is awesome and realistic. I want to be able to score by smashing the puck and the legs of the guy controlling it for 6.

  • Mike

    I for one would like to see a dual stick style control similar to EA canadas NHL series. All you'd need would be the two sticks a poke check button an a pass button and you'd be set, ditch the turbo button and make speed based on stride. Maybe I'm spoiled but it's hard to go back to button controls after 3 years of awesomeness. If it's asking too much then maybe EA will see there is a market for hockey on the iPhone and release NHL 11 for the iPhone in the fall.

  • Mike

    I for one would like to see a dual stick style control similar to EA canadas NHL series. All you'd need would be the two sticks a poke check button an a pass button and you'd be set, ditch the turbo button and make speed based on stride. Maybe I'm spoiled but it's hard to go back to button controls after 3 years of awesomeness. If it's asking too much then maybe EA will see there is a market for hockey on the iPhone and release NHL 11 for the iPhone in the fall.

  • HyphyCus

    Seriously, it's a hockey game and no mention of how the hitting is. Can you board someone?

  • HyphyCus

    Seriously, it's a hockey game and no mention of how the hitting is. Can you board someone?

  • Chad

    I'm pretty sure that didn't even make sense.

  • Chad

    I'm pretty sure that didn't even make sense.

  • Phil_Lapineau

    Love the insertion of cheese rock in the video.

  • Phil_Lapineau

    Love the insertion of cheese rock in the video.

  • Daniel

    The game is trash!

    -You cannot play online
    - There are no Player-Names
    - No Clubs, just Countrys
    -You cannot even change your controlled Player!

  • Daniel

    The game is trash!

    -You cannot play online
    - There are no Player-Names
    - No Clubs, just Countrys
    -You cannot even change your controlled Player!

  • Daniel

    further:

    - no fighting
    - no Team Management
    - cannot pull your goalie
    - You can turn on Icing and Off-side but it doesn't work most of the time
    - The goalies are much too weak
    - no line changes
    - the face-offs are very bad

  • Daniel

    further:

    - no fighting
    - no Team Management
    - cannot pull your goalie
    - You can turn on Icing and Off-side but it doesn't work most of the time
    - The goalies are much too weak
    - no line changes
    - the face-offs are very bad

  • Bryan

    I wasn't impressed. The practice mode has icing (seriously? When I'm playing with my team only?), the defense AI is insanely tough (made moreso by the interception issues you mention). It's just not good. I should have guessed based on Distinctive's poor rugby game.

  • Bryan

    I wasn't impressed. The practice mode has icing (seriously? When I'm playing with my team only?), the defense AI is insanely tough (made moreso by the interception issues you mention). It's just not good. I should have guessed based on Distinctive's poor rugby game.

  • http://www.stormchild.net Stormchild

    No real teams or players, no thanks. I'll wait for EA's NHL. They'll do it sooner or later.

  • http://www.stormchild.net Stormchild

    No real teams or players, no thanks. I'll wait for EA's NHL. They'll do it sooner or later.

  • http://oddyoh.blogspot.com OddyOh

    I'm a huge hockey fan...but I can't deal with virtual d-pads.

  • http://oddyoh.blogspot.com OddyOh

    I'm a huge hockey fan...but I can't deal with virtual d-pads.

  • Ray

    Just Wait for the update it is amazing also when do u think EA NHL will come out?

  • http://Toucharcade Ray

    Just Wait for the update it is amazing also when do u think EA NHL will come out?