Fans of lacrosse have had a rough ride in terms of the sport’s exposure to casual and new fans as well as acceptance of the official major league of lacrosse (NLL). You’re almost more likely to see Halley's Comet than hear anything about a videogame being based on the popular sport. In Canada, the sport has a great following as the official summer sport to give hockey fans something to do on grass. In the US however, the sport has been slow to catch on, but is growing in popularity with deep roots in hockey towns and the suburbs. Thankfully for those lacrosse supporters who own an Xbox 360, we now have NLL Lacrosse 2010 presented by Reebok. Think of it as a major release in a small package.
The first thing that grabs you about NLL 2010 is the clean interface. While the game is backed by the NLL and Reebok, they’re both there more to legitimize the game and get the name out there than to actually finance this title. So despite the name, this is very much an XBL Indie title. As anyone who’s purchased an Indie title in the past knows, they aren’t always the cleanest looking games. NLL bucks that trend in every way, especially the interface. It’s set up perfectly to represent the sport because you can tell the menus were heavily inspired by layouts of classic hockey videogames. Setting up a game is quick and easy with you shredding the turf in seconds. The only problem with the menu system isn’t the fault of the game. Trying to find a game online over XBL can be a chore sometimes. So try to keep a friend close by if you want to go multiplayer fast.
The gameplay itself is fun, but very arcadey in feel. The most notable thing that makes NLL 2010 feel like an arcade title is the “extreme” checking in the game. Similar to the way the interface reminded me of old hockey games, the fact that you can just check the heck out of anyone and keep on rolling without penalty is straight out of the old PS2 and Xbox days of NHL games. Checking is fun if you’re on the giving end of the exchange, but if you’re receiving, it is a brutal annoyance. One hit and you’re face down on the turf. But outside of the lack of penalties, the game is solid fun. We’re not talking about an EA Sports or 2K Sports release here. As long as you keep this in mind, you’re in for some fun. The pacing is fast which lacrosse fans know is exactly what the sport is about. NLL 2010 is pickup and play fun for anyone too. The controls take a little getting used to at first, but are simple and intuitive enough to have you clearing the ball and attacking in no time.
Graphically NLL 2010 is very nice for a 3D sports title on the Indie scene. As mentioned above, there are some similarities between this title and hockey games form the past and the visuals are no different. Player models and fields are a mix between PSone/Saturn and PS2/Xbox visuals. There are some hiccups however. Every now and then you can see players run through the boards. Hardcore fans of lacrosse won’t take issue with some of the shortcomings, but casual gamers might notice them. Sound, much like the graphics compliments everything well for an Indie game, but does have some problems. Apparently there was a bit of a rush when the sound was put in since it was obviously lifted from the college title developed by Triple B Games. You actually hear the in-game announcer refer to the game as College Lacrosse 2010. Again, as a fan of the sport (and the Minnesota Swarm in particular), these minor issues don’t bother me much and likely will be overlooked by all NLL fans.
So what is the final verdict with NLL Lacrosse 2010? It’s a great game for the sport and for fans of the sport. With no title to represent the league since Lacrosse Blast on the original Playstation, this Indie title is more than a welcome addition to the world of lacrosse. Fans of the sport from the eleven cities that host pro NLL teams will go bonkers for this one since they can play out complete seasons and lead their teams to victory. The more casual fans will get an introduction to a great league and sport at a low price. It’s not perfect and could use some more polish, but it’s a very nice look at what the future may hold for the sport in videogames. As for the present, this game is well worth the five dollar price of admission. Grab a fellow attackman, plop down in-front of the Xbox 360 and battle it out in NLL Lacrosse 2010 Presented by Reebok.