Icebreaker isn’t really a hockey game. It looks like a hockey game, and coincidentally looks quite good, but it’s not a hockey game. You won’t be passing the puck to teammates, checking your opponents into the glass, or anything like that. It’s a bit deceptive in this regard, but it’s actually in favor of the game. To play a full game of hockey on a mobile gaming device is an unreasonable expectation to place on the player. Mobile games are meant to be played a few minutes at a time, and Icebreaker does just that.
It’s not a hockey game—which I believe I have made clear—but Icebreaker does have you playing as a hockey player. Basically, it takes a core element of hockey and expands it into a enjoyable mini-game. You have to make your way from one end of the rink to the other while avoiding defenders in order to score a goal. The ice has colored areas that you will want to pass through to get extra points, and the better you are at dodging your opponents, the higher your score will be. Once you make it to the end and score your goal, you're ready to move on to the next level.
Icebreaker uses a combination of on-screen, virtual buttons and motion controls to move your skater. Your simple left and right movements are controlled with the tilt, but quick dashes, fancy spins, speeding up, and shooting are all controlled by the on-screen buttons. There are quite a few buttons, so it can become confusing remembering what you need to hit when. However, the prompts are large and well-defined, so it only takes a bit of getting used to.
As you progress through the levels, the opportunities for points become more fleeting, and entire sections of the rink will be blocked. Additional offensive players will be added too. You will unlock harder difficulties, along with new, unlicensed hockey teams to play as. There is also an endurance mode, where you basically last as long as you can with wave after wave coming at you.
One of the most impressive things about Icebreaker are the visuals. The game and animations look really good. Everything, from skating down the ice to getting brutally checked by an opponent, moves realistically. You also have some limited customization with your character. You can select the name and number you would like to appear on the back of your jersey and a few other elements. I would have liked to see more options, but to have any at all for such a small title is definitely welcome.
Personally, I am not a fan of sports games, which is why I was surprised that I enjoyed Icebreaker as much as I did. It looks like a sports game, and even follows some of the rules of hockey, but it’s really a well-executed, attractive iPhone mini-game. There isn’t a whole lot of content here, but there are a number of achievements to be unlocked. Even if you’re not a fan of hockey, this may be one that’s worth checking out.