Hockey may not be the most popular sport on TV, but it still seems to bring out crowds to the games and there are still thousands of die hard hockey fans who just can’t get enough hockey each year. For those there are always the hockey video games, which are continually improving and becoming more and more realistic. Today we are looking at NHL 2K8 for the Xbox 360, which hopes to take on EA Sports NHL 08 for the best hockey game of the year. Does 2K have what it takes with NHL 2K8? Read our full review to find out!
2K Sports has been in constant competition with EA Sports for the top hockey game, and compared to any other sport, hockey has been the most competitive. The two hockey franchises have really been great for each other, and the competition has made both franchises much better. NHL 2K8 is coming out this year with the hope that it can continue to improve the controls and make for the top NHL hockey game of 2007.
NHL 2K8 is up against stiff competition this year; NHL 08 had a stellar outing, one of its strongest in years in a while. NHL 2K8 however won’t give up without a fight, so let’s take a look at this game in a more in-depth manner. NHL 2K8, in terms of mechanics, uses the Pro Stick control scheme this quite similar to EA’s control scheme, but unfortunately a bit more touchy than EA’s version. One of the great aspects of the Pro Stick is shooting, which you use the bumpers to shoot.
NHL 2K8 is what I would call a much more simulation style experience. You’re not going to be racking up a bunch of goals, and defenses can be a lot more difficult to maneuver around than in EA’s hockey game. In fact, NHL 2K8 in many ways can be a lot more frustrating than other hockey titles because it takes so long to learn the controls. For me I kept wanting to go back to the classic control scheme, but the more you play NHL 2K8 the more you will find Pro Stick controls are much more rewarding and satisfying. However I have a bad suspicion most won’t give it the time to develop and elect to switch to the classic controls.
One of the other great features of NHL 2K8 is its deep franchise mode that is going to have any Hockey fan drooling from the mouth. The mode would be a bit overwhelming to describe, so instead of wasting both of our time, I will choose to skip over it and just comment on a few items. First and foremost, if there was any option that you wanted to be in a franchise mode, chances are its in NHL 2K8. Not only that, but NHL 2K8 also really allows a ton of roster progression options and such that really makes the franchise feel like the real deal.
In terms of gameplay NHL 2K8 had some really solid improvements, mainly in the fluidity of movement on the ice and just the solid simulation feel that the game gives. I should mention the game does have some solid online play as well for those who are looking for an online fix. Overall this is a brilliantly made game, the gameplay is challenging, but at the same time extremely rewarding.
In terms of visuals, I can’t say that 2K8 has improved much over its predecessors, especially when you look at the character models, which in my mind need a lot of work still. The stadiums are actually one of the finer points in the game, with a lot detail on the crowds and the stadiums themselves. I should also mention that the menu’s in the game are very what you would call "old school", and unfortunately I don’t mean that as a compliment. I felt NHL 2K8’s visuals were a bit underwhelming, and really didn’t see any major improvements over the previous iteration.
Frustrating is the word I would use to best describe the first few times of using the Pro Stick controls, and that is even after going through the tutorials. The game itself is actually however a very balanced and well played game, and if you give it time it can progress to be even more then that. What impressed me most on the game wasn’t that it had all the right pieces but it was well rounded. NHL 2K 8 had some nice mini games outside of the normal games, good online play, and the deepest hockey franchise mode out there.
In the end, NHL 2K8 is not a perfect game, as there are still room for improvements in the graphics department. However, as a package, the game excels, with solid gameplay, deep modes and everything you would want from a hockey game. If you’re a hockey buff and like simulation hockey, this is the game for you.
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.