Ultimate Rivals: The Rink is a 3 vs 3 hockey game available exclusively on Apple Arcade. We live in a time where there really are no good hockey video games. Can this one fill the void? Spoiler alert..... not even close.
I have been holding off reviewing this one for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that I was expecting an update to give it some more modes and depth and second, the game is not good so I was dreading spending the time needed for the review. It was a painful process but I have clocked in enough hours to make my judgment. The announcement and release of this game was a surprise to me and I was hyped for it. At the 2019 Game Awards the title was both announced and release the same day. I love hockey so I could not have been more excited to play.
The idea is fantastic. 3v3 hockey with players from all sports and genders. It's a great inclusive game. Sadly the idea was the only successful part of the game.
The game moves fast, like really fast. It's too fast to follow. I found myself aimless skating back and forth to try to keep pace with the play. When on defense I rarely could get myself in a position to make a play because of this speed. When on offense the speed often leads to me over skating where I wanted to shoot from or make a pass to a player that has already skated past the crease. It never looked or felt good. Originally I played this with touch controls and thought that maybe it would be better with a controller, sadly that was not the case. The game is just too hard to play either way. The controls are simple you skate around and you have a pass, shoot, and turbo button on offense and a turbo, check, and steal button on defense. If you double tap your turbo button your character will execute a deke but it is beyond pointless. It's just a spin move witch does nothing except look flashy. After your spin it takes a couple of seconds to be able to shoot so even if you use it properly to make some open space, you won't be able to shoot right after.
The same can be said for one timers too. When you pass there is never a smooth transition to a shot. It never looks natural and sadly it's the easiest way to score so I found myself doing it often, and just being annoyed by it. You will get plenty of breakaway opportunities in every game, but there is really nothing to do with it. There is no skill to these breakaways. You simply just skate up and hope for the best. There is nothing you can really do to try to outsmart the goalie. As you play every time you throw a check you will see a bunch of green items on the floor. Pick those up to charge your ultimate ability. These ultimates range from absolutely useless to overpowered. They are in need of some balancing to improve them. Unlocking new characters is the best part of this game but it will just randomly happen after a game. There is no way to pick who you want to unlock or see whos unlocking next. In a game with so many characters to unlock this would have been a great addition.
Right now there is just not much to do in the game. You have 4 modes to choose from but that's not really accurate. There is instant action that puts you right into a game. There is solo play which is basically just instant action. Then finally two are multiplayer. Challenge someone you know are play a random online. There was nothing compelling to keep me wanting to come back. Verdict Ultimate Rivals The Rink is a missed opportunity. The idea to have players of all genders and sports compting is fantastic. Unfortunately, it falls flat in every single aspect besides that. Even if hockey is your favorite sport I still can not recommend this one. Stay away, stay far away. Final Score 1/10