To say there’s a bit of a national divide among sports fans is an understatement. But when it comes to the difference between the padding-heavy, start-stop shenanigans of American sports and the more reserved stylings of British-born sports, the rift is unbridgeable.
Just mentally comparing ice hockey with its closest British equivalent, hockey, boggles the mind. Thankfully, this is a globalised world.
We can enjoy both, and, since no developer seems especially interested in making a British hockey game, the North American flair of Hockey Nations 2011 suits us fine.
It’s ice hockey. Simple as that. Well, as simple as the rules of ice hockey allow it to be, anyway. You’re presented with the usual array of modes, including exhibitions, shootouts, playoffs, and an international league.
Slightly annoyingly, there’s no tutorial – you’re just thrown straight in and expected to figure it out. The game does include a practice mode, though, which you can use to work out the basic controls.
The Xperia Play's touchpad controls your player’s movement (although the D-pad feels less sluggish to use). In possession of the puck, X results in a pass and circle produces a shot, while out of possession, Square puts pressure on and Circle leads to a rough tackle.
The most important element, however, is speed. Holding Triangle makes you sprint, but this depletes your player’s stamina fairly quickly – and there’s no getting this back until they are replaced during a time-out or after a period of play.Fight night
The only real grievance I have with Hockey Nations 2011 is down to the sport of ice hockey itself. As mentioned, it’s a sport littered with stoppages in play, and these constant interruptions are often caused by your computerised team-mates and opposition being unable to grasp the offside rule.
This can become so grating that eventually you’ll have to take the coward’s way out and turn off the offside rule in the options. Still, at least the game gives you the ability to do this (along with deactivating the icing rule, too, if you like).
And if you’re still frustrated about the discontinuous action, you can always take it out on someone. Every now and then, you’ll be given the option to fight someone by pressing an on-screen button.
The camera swings to a first-person perspective at this point and you begin brawling with your competitior: the Circle and Square buttons act as right and left hooks, while ducking and diving is performed via the D-pad.
It’s a simplistic mini-game and it gets you five minutes in the sin-bin, but it’s a chucklesome feature nonetheless. Along with the shootout mini-game, which sees you touching the screen in a certain place to save a shot, it adds a nice bit of variety.
All in all, Hockey Nations 2011 might be a little too staccato for some. This isn’t so much a fault of the game design – it’s simply a part of the sport’s own nature.