Game Review: Table Ice Hockey (PS Vita)

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Table Ice Hockey is an augmented reality (AR) game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita. The game takes an arcade style approach to the sport of ice hockey with exhibition matches and tournaments.

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Back to Table Ice Hockey and the graphics have an arcade styling to them, so don’t be expecting anything realistic. Graphically, Table Ice Hockey plays to its strengths; it is meant to be an arcade style and that is exactly what it delivers and replicates so well. It isn’t detailed, but that is because it doesn’t need to be as it is so strongly and deeply routed in its arcade styling.

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The game provides you with three game modes including: how to play, play now and tournament. The how to play game mode is a tutorial that is split off into beginner and advanced and are both designed to bring you up to speed with all of the controls, mechanics and rules of the game. The play now mode is essentially an exhibition match, which you can play solo against another A.I controlled team or compete in ad-hoc multiplayer. The tournament mode consists of a league table that sees you competing against a series of A.I. controlled teams in your attempt for your team to climb the league tables to the very top. The A.I. controlled teams progressively increase in difficulty as each of the teams have statistical analysis based upon their attack, defence, speed and overall quality via star ratings from zero through ten on the team selection menu. Outside of the game modes; there are extensive customisation options consisting of team editing and player editing abilities. The team editing abilities include: changing the pattern, logo and colour of the jersey, while the player editing abilities include: editing the player’s name, number and skin tone with up to four unlockable slots to save your player and team customisations to.

The controls are very intuitive with the left stick used to manoeuvre the player, triangle to change to another player when your team does not have possession of the puck, X to pass the puck and O to shoot with the Vita’s motion sensor functionality used to move the positioning of the camera angle in regards to zooming in and out and seeing the environment you are playing the game in beyond the stadium. The face-off mechanic sees you aiming to strike the puck first with a tap of a random button via a quick time event. The fighting mechanic sees you squaring off against a member of the opposing team in which you press O to punch to the face and pull the left stick downwards and press O to punch to the stomach.

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Table Ice Hockey requires three AR cards to be simultaneously positioned directly underneath the Vita. The AR cards can be located anywhere you want them to be enabling you to position the ice hockey rink outside in your front garden or in your living room with the only restrictions being that the AR cards have to be placed on a flat surface and they have to be used in a well lit environment. I found the syncing process of the AR cards to be much easier than my experience with Table Top Tanks as they only need to be placed in a straight horizontal line from left to right in Table Ice Hockey resulting in the light not being as much of a factor.

The audio really brings you into the atmosphere of the sport with music that you would typically expect from every ice hockey game on the planet and the roar of the crowd cheering on their team with every pass and shot of the puck.

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The trophy list includes thirteen trophies with nine bronze, three silver and one gold trophy. The trophy list starts out easy with trophies earned for completing the beginner and advanced tutorials, receiving a penalty, changing a players’ name and even losing a game and remains that way throughout the majority of the trophy list. There are some trophies that require a longer period of time to earn such as winning 25 and 50 games and winning the Tournament Cup, but these will come in time with perseverance. Twelve out of the thirteen trophies are obtainable within six to eight hours. The only sticking point is that one of the thirteen trophies (Defeat the Human) requires you to win a multiplayer game via ad-hoc multiplayer, which makes this a tough trophy list to 100%, but if you have the luxury of owning two PlayStation Vita consoles or knowing someone that lives nearby that owns a Vita and the game, then it would make it considerably easier to 100% the trophy list. This seems to be a recurring problem with AR games as the Table Top Tanks trophy list also suffered the same fate.

As is also the case with Table Top Tanks; the online multiplayer is limited to ad-hoc only, which is a disappointment as if you don’t own two PlayStation Vita consoles or know someone else that lives nearby who owns a Vita, then you may find it difficult to even get into a multiplayer game, due to the limited range of one hundred feet or less between your Vita and the opponents’ Vita. Therefore, I have never actually played the ad-hoc multiplayer, which means I am unable to comment upon the performance of the game in this mode.

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The replayability of Table Ice Hockey is considerably stronger than Table Top Tanks, purely because you have more gameplay. For starters there is a larger single player with exhibition matches and tournaments with unlockable rinks and pucks based upon your performances. There is the fact that this is a sport, so as you will find with all other sports games; the result is always unpredictable which in itself provides a pick up and play feel to the game bringing a just one more try vibe to the game that feels so relevant to its arcade routes.

Overall, the lack of online multiplayer and leaderboards does not hold back Table Ice Hockey from fulfilling its potential as it still manages to ooze with replayability due to the amount of single player content and fun arcade game mechanics that will keep you coming back for more and for a game that only costs £1.59 that makes Table Ice Hockey a must buy!

At A Glance

  • Title: Table Ice Hockey
  • Publisher: Four Door Lemon (XDev Studio Europe)
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: No
  • Cross Play: No
  • Online Multiplayer: Ad-Hoc only
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 84Mb

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