Sports games have their fixed place on both consoles as well as PC. Two major developers that constantly return are EA Sports and 2K Sports. From the latter we already find their latest NHL-game, NHL 2K8, in stores and we’ll see in this review whether it can take on its rival from EA.
Games like NHL require good inspiration and knowledge of the sport. If you don’t have this as developer it probably won’t end up good. Luckily 2K Sports know more than enough about “hitting the puck”, something we’ve seen over the years, and with NHL 2K8 that didn’t change. “Good” you’ll say as a fan, but then what’s there to write a review about?
Developers of course spend quite some time on other things than rules. In this latest version you can expect a large number of teams to choose from and also the realism is very high. You can already prepare for some fun fighting. And with this said you of course know it’s possible to actually give your opponent a punch in the face which is logical in ice hockey. The fights are determined by the computer which sadly means you can’t choose when to start one. What immediately gets noticed is that the limited amount of moves. It would have been a lot more fun if this part would have had some more detail and the moves would have been more swift.
While playing a game this isn’t so bad at all though and that’s what it’s all about. 2K really goes for realism and as beginner you won’t have it easy to score. After some practise sessions, that are plenty available, and you’ve learnt some tricks from the stars you’ll be able to get it off. The game will suddenly be a lot easier and you won’t be so frustrated anymore when your opponent scores. Another extra is that you can control the keeper completely. This isn’t easy though, so I would suggest to let him do things his own way as his AI is good enough. Opponents don’t do stupid stuff and sometimes even manage to scrape the blood from under your finger nails.
You’ll be quite busy in your career with a large number of matches and decent amount of variation. In a special room you get access to minigames called Trivia and Airhockey. In the first you get all kinds of hockey-related questions while the second is a more arcade game that you really should try out with someone else. Once you’ve relaxed a bit in the lounge you can get busy again with the games and coaching your team. Both before and after a match you’ll face injured players and you’ll have to put them on the bench to get them up to speed again and this is a good thing for those that like to manage, but lovers of fighting and scoring will probably let the computer handle this part.
All interesting things that can bring some innovation have been talked about by now. Of course we still have to tell you about the graphical aspect but the image quality isn’t all that spectacular. The good thing on the other hand is that there’s quite some level of detail present. You’ll be able to see the sweat dripping from someone’s face and look at the rips of the skates in the ice. For the rest it’s all stuff we’ve gotten used to in games and the audience still looks like being made from cardboard.
Another important thing with NHL is the music. Here the choice has been made to use a solid rock track and nicely immerse this into the game. The soundtrack plays in the menu, when a goal is scored and at the end of a match. Also the sound effects are well done and extensive. The audience will shout names while encouraging the home team enthusiastically.
In short: NHL 2K8 does it again and is a worthy successor to the series. If you’re tired of the offline game and want some more gaming fun you can always try out the online part or take on your friends. There are also some extra features that can be unlocked so the game will keep you busy for some time. Enough playing fun and a long-going gameplay, perfect for the NHL-fan!