The new Hockey Ultimate Team mode, borrowed from EA Sports’ FIFA and Madden series before it, allows you to build your own team through a sort of virtual collectible card game. Playing (and winning) games with your team earns you “pucks,” which allow you to purchase new “packs” containing new players, jerseys, stadiums, contracts, or player upgrades. The elements of strategy and collection involved are very satisfying, if perhaps not as well suited to hockey as soccer or football. The offline tournaments aren’t particularly detailed and they feel a bit dead, and online matches can be intimidating, but that feeling of collecting and arranging is still addictive as ever.
NHL 11 is an improvement over last year’s version, but likely not enough to warrant a new purchase for NHL 10 owners unless the new rosters and Ultimate Team mode matter that much to you. If you’re a true fanatic like that, you’ll buy the game no matter what I tell you, but if you’re not, this wouldn’t be a bad year to take off, with such relatively minor improvements.
NHL 11 is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Mild Violence. This game can also be found on: Xbox 360.