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Icebreaker Hockey™ Review

By Andrew Nesvadba, on June 3, 2011


Icebreaker Hockey™
Download on the AppStore
Rating

PROS

  • Brutal checks and elegant dodges thanks to NaturalMotion's smooth animations.
  • Intuitive controls; tilt to move, tap on the relevant side to dodge.
  • Unlockable customizations, difficulty levels and an Endurance mode.

CONS

  • Deja vu gameplay; including the unspectacular 'hard stop' and auto shooting fails to add to the series.
  • Performance issues; game would occasionally become unplayable (unresponsive menus, slow load times).

VERDICT

Despite a change of setting, Icebreaker Hockey fails to step out of the comfort zone of its predecessors; this is disappointing for a sport famous for its hard hits.


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NaturalMotion are at it again and this time players are taken off the field and on to the ice as you attempt to spin, deke, stop or sprint your way past checks in Icebreaker Hockey. Sadly, what could have been an opportunity to try something out of the ordinary instead feels bland and more like a coat of paint thrown over the earlier Backbreaker series.

Fans of the series will be able to jump right in as the controls and basic gameplay are left almost completely intact. Tilting will move your player back and forth while buttons on the left and right allow you to spin, deke, sprint and 'showboat' once you're past the defenders. Points are awarded for pulling off these maneuvers while avoiding the opposing team, while additional points can be racked up if you slide over colored zones. Off-limits boundaries can provide some barriers, though players can turn back in the other direction, giving them the opportunity to literally run circles around the opposition.

The major changes are mostly aesthetic, with the game obviously being set in an ice-rink complete with crowds, over the top lighting and high-quality animations (which is to be expected of a group like NaturalMotion). Minor gameplay additions such as being able to shoot past a goaltender don't really add to the challenge as the shooting is handled automatically and 'hard stops' are to be expected given that we are talking about Ice Hockey.

As you progress you'll unlock additional teams for their jerseys, new difficulty levels to test your skills and an Endurance mode for 'endless' wave-after-wave gameplay. Achievements add some challenging objectives, but outside of collecting all the 'stars' most can be unlocked through repetitive playing.

At the end of the day, we've been here before and in some ways Icebreaker Hockey feels like a step back from Backbreaker 2 as the variety of options for avoiding other players has been reduced. If you've not played anything from the 'Breaker' series of titles or you're a hardline Ice Hockey fan, you'll get a real kick out of this game, but if you're a returning fan there's far less to enjoy.

Screenshots

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