There is no doubt that Football is the most-watched sports in North America, and the same could be said of its video game counterpart. However over the years other sports have been able to make a mark in the gaming industry and probably had more of an impact then the actual real life sport itself. An example of this is Hockey, which has decent following following on TV, but has had much success with various video game franchises. EA has been in a dead lock competition with 2K over the years to try and battle for the top hockey game in the land. Does EA have an outright winner this year in NHL 08 for the Playstation 3? Read our full review to find out!
In years past the two competing hockey franchises - 2K Sports’ NHL 2K franchise and the NHL franchise from EA - have offered different hockey experiences. The 2K franchise has been more of a full on simulation hockey game that has a bit less of the glitz and glamour and more of hard nosed hockey. Where EA on the other hand goes for the big goals, the big hits, and a much more cinematic approach to the sport. But which is better? Does EA continue to improve there hockey title in NHL 08?
One of the big things for any EA Sports title are the controls, which continue to improve in NHL 08. EA Has done some tweaking to the controls, which actually offers up a bit more fine tuning on the ice. To me the control still takes a good deal of time to get used to, and if given the time pays dividends down the road but can be a bit tricky at first. I have seen many switch the controls back to classic, but for me if you give the game time the Skill Stick is actually a really impressive mechanic for the game.
The big area of NHL 08 is the dynasty mode which has always been pretty good but really allows a much deeper experience in NHL 08 over previous titles. In fact one of the most exciting additions to the game is the inclusion of the minor league teams, which allows you to bring up players when needed. This element has been done in other sports titles and continues to really add an extra level of depth to a dynasty mode that really makes for a great experience. The dynasty mode is really going to appeal to hardcore hockey fans as it gives them a lot to work with and expand upon.
One of the other big improvements to this years game is the AI, which has been a bit of a problem in years past. In NHL 08 you will find that much more of the game is balanced as opposed to last year, which seemed like a very offensive heavy game. This year the game manages to really blend the two sides of the game very nice and it makes for a lot more low scoring games, something hockey is known for.
Online play is something that has been touted about in NHL 08, mainly because this is really the first EA sports game with online leagues something fans of many other games have been begging for, for years. Unfortunately its pretty run of the mill content here, with nothing really standing out in terms of customizing leagues or really getting an amazing amount of options for a league. It all seems to work pretty well and it manages to at least give the options fans have wanted for years.
Overall NHL 08 is just an amazing step forward both in the offline sense and in terms of how the gameplay has really come together as a force to be reckon with. The game manages to compliment the style of the game to a great sense of feel which allows a very engaging and enjoyable NHL experience. Although I think the online play has work to be done, the steps made in this game can only reap major benefits for gamers in years to come.
Visually EA nailed the style and atmosphere of hockey in this game. However for some reason, the rate rate on the PS3 version is not as smooth as on Xbox 360. In fact, some of the animations on the PS3 version just seem a bit more edgy and less smooth then what we saw on the 360. I also noticed there was a bit more of a jagged effect on the character models on the PS3 version, which really stood out to me as being a much less impressive visual experience.
One of my first favorite sports games was a game called Blades of Steel for the NES, and to me it was the first great hockey game for the home console. One thing that separated the game was the fact that it had a great sense of the game of hockey. Now almost twenty years later, I would say that NHL 08 manages to really find its sense of the game of hockey more than any other game has in the past. NHL 08 is fun hockey game that puts everything together for one complete and enjoyable hockey package.
NHL 08 is by far one of the more impressive NHL titles in the past few years. EA really hasn’t added a major feature this year, but it’s the way the hockey looks and feels that really separates this game from the rest of the pack. NHL 08 is one of those games that manages to put everything together in one complete package, and NHL 08 is really a complete hockey package.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.