A company that entered the App Store with so much fanfare with their highly-touted, new animation system that was supposed to be the best of the best. And more than a year later, that animation system has proved to be the backbone for both their follow up Backbreaker Football 2 and Icebreaker Hockey.
The animations are still some of the best I’ve seen on the iPhone thus far, which does help its case, and entering hockey into the mix of its series really adds a whole new dimension. For one, along with dodging all the defenders with spin, juke, and stop, you must get as close to the goal as possible without having the goalie take it away from you.
I do have to admit that the campaign mode is a little short—10 levels, 30 minutes—but it’s 30 minutes of thrill and just plain awesome. You can also go back and try to earn all three stars on each level, plus there are over 40 achievements to unlock. Not too much to complain about if you ask me.
Animations: It’s been over a year since Backbreaker Football was released, and still, the animations that are used are by far the best in the App Store. Sure, it’s much harder to tell if the animations are the best or not, but NaturalMotion has done a great job with sticking to their roots and to the whole reason why they’re so successful in the App Store.
Replay value: Even though there are only 10 levels and two game modes, there is a lot of replay value enough to play over the game at least three times. There are three difficulty levels for you to get through in each of the modes as well, so there’s actually much more than the 30 minutes of gameplay I mentioned above. Casual games usually contain a lot of replay value, and Icebreaker Hockey is far from exempt from that.
GameCenter: The GameCenter implemented does contain some flaws that I’ll mention later in this review, but you really can’t complain about 42 or so achievements.
Graphics/UI: There’s no option to return back to the start menu; you have to go through that whole customizing player screen before getting to the start menu. Along with that, it seems like a lot of the graphics aren’t Retina-friendly such as the opening logo for NaturalMotion and some of the UI elements. I’m not going to say that it’s horrible, but it is unacceptable considering that Retina-friendly is pretty much given nowadays.
GameCenter achievements: Now I know I mentioned that there were a lot of achievements, but it would be nice if they actually synced with GameCenter. For some reason, the achievements I’ve collected within the game don’t transfer over to GameCenter itself, meaning that the achievements in-game screen shows over 20 achievements achieved, but when going inside the GameCenter app, it shows that I have complete zero achievements. It’s quite frustrating when you’re as competitive as I am, and a fix for this would be nice.
Icebreaker Hockey follows the footsteps of both Backbreaker Football and Backbreaker Football II with a fun and addictive gameplay, great animations, and great character models. The UI and other graphical elements do need some work, and the GameCenter needs a bit of fixing up to do, but overall, Icebreaker Hockey is definitely worth the low asking price of $0.99.