Jeffrey Markiewicz On November 20, 2007 at 8:13 am

It’s winter and hockey is in full bloom again. The time of seasonal bipolarity for hockey fans with all of the highs and lows. This year the Red Wings appear to be in a giving mood allowing everyone to score left and right on them. Guess their goalie has good Christmas spirit. Fortunately in NHL 2K8, I can give him his lump of coal. I can manage my team, get rid of the bad apples, and carry my team forth to conquer the opposition and claim the Stanley Cup!

Sadly this is harder than it sounds. Upon booting up the game, the amount of confusion will be higher than taking a class in organic chemistry. The menus will just drive you nuts trying to figure things out; they are not intuitive at all. And once you change even the slightest thing the game will ask if you want to save. Then you have to guess how to get out of the save menu because it doesn’t tell you how. It would have been nice to see an autosave implemented because it becomes annoying. On the bright side, once you climb Mount Everest and figure them out, the amount of options will satisfy even the most diehard hockey fan.

From simple quick games to reading emails and getting phone calls from
management, everything you would want is here. This amount of depth in the franchise mode is mind-blowing. You get all the traditional options like making trades, managing your team, and playing games. On top of that, trading and acquiring new players has a cool negotiation system. You get emails and phone calls from the coach and management. Other teams will offer up trades to you. And when you’re bored from it all, you can jump into the skybox and play some air hockey and hockey trivia. On the ice you will find controls are lackluster and take a while to actually feel comfortable, especially the pro-stick option you control the stick with the right thumb stick. Skating around the ice is okay; its what you’d expect from a hockey game. Hits are pretty easy to pull off and happen quite frequently, which can become a slight annoyance. The game is relatively bug-free other than my goalie purposely hitting the puck into our goal to give the other team the win. During the game if someone is particularly rough, of course you’ll have the option to fight, but it is mediocre at best. Once you fight through the controls, playing the game becomes somewhat fun but even though the game supports 4 players on the local system, don’t expect people to pick up this title and start having a blast.

The audio is good, you won’t find anything out of this world here, but it does the job. Skating sounds like skating, hitting people sounds like hitting people. The musical arrangement is the generic rock music you would find at any regular hockey game, nothing particularly special but adds to the atmosphere. The announcers sound really good but offer only superficial comments that after a while become slightly repetitive and end up being mentally blocked out.

The graphics are good for a hockey game. They won’t blow you away by any means, especially the audience. I would have liked at least real-time lighting, especially for the light shows in the beginning. The ice looks perfect but remains in a near pristine condition throughout the entire game; the most you get is a couple ice skating marks on it. I would have liked to see more impact on the ice, more defined skate lines and for players to kick up more ice when then stop on a time. The animations are pretty good and it is nice to see some of the moves the players pull off. Fighting looks about as good as a last-generation game, which is disappointing because of how much detail the player models have when they jump onto the ice.

Once you’ve built up your skills it’s time to head onto the online ice rinks. You’ll be presented with all the typical options; ranked, player match, and leaderboard. Some of the more interesting options are the ability to setup leagues and share movies you make. But unlike in Halo 3, the ability to share and watch movies will set you back $5 (400MS points). Game styles can also be shared and rated which is really cool to see how everyone else is playing. One problem I had when I selected ranked match was that I was paired up with a hockey god. This gamer sat for about 5 minutes in the menus messing with every possible option for managing his team. While this is a great thing that I would expect to be done often, I am an absolute newbie, first time playing, being paired up with a person who obviously knows the game like the back of his hand. If you’re wondering, yes, I lost that game and I lost several more after that. When an online match comes to a conclusion, an extremely odd thing happens. First it will prompt you to review the game experience, then you’ll be prompted to review the player, and finally after that you’ll be prompted to prefer or avoid the player. While I guess this is a way to get a lot of feedback; it’s just too much. It’s like going to a restaurant, eating your food and before you can leave you are forced to fill out a review of your experience. I would’ve liked this to be an option rather than be forced upon you.

NHL 2K8 is for the diehard hockey fans, it’s hard to recommend it to anyone else. It has an insane amount of options and you can do practically everything you would ever want, on and off the ice. The graphics are nice, especially the ice, but could’ve been better. The diehard should be fine but people who may not be hockey fanatics will have problems diving in and just having pure, good fun. The menus are frustratingly confusing. Once you’re on the ice, you’ll be treated to some well-done announcers but the controls are hard to pick up. There is a lot of potential in this game but suffers from a lack of streamlining.


Controls are hard to get use to and menus are unintuitive but once you get over that, this game offers tons of options and depth.


The graphics are okay. Models are pretty detailed by stiff. Some of the font choices are odd. The audience is nice but nothing special. The ice looks awesome but is always in a near pristine condition.


The sounds do the job. The soundtrack includes all the classics you expect to hear at the big hockey games but nothing more. The announcers sound good but offer only superficial points and become slightly repetitive as you play more games.


This is a game for the diehards who crave depth and options. The unintuitive menus and poor controls will turn off most casual gamers.

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