Friday, October 19, 2007

EA Sports NHL 08 Review

I may be a little late on this, but I've been playing NHL 08 on the Xbox 360 for a solid month now, and I feel it's time to chime in with a review of my own. Many of you may have already read a few reviews of the game, and it has been received quite well. It received an 8.9 on IGN.com, and an 8.5 on Gamespot.com. I will base my score 5 areas, Graphics, Gameplay, Atmosphere & Feel, Authenticity, and Overall game depth.


Graphics

The graphics in this game are absolutely stunning. The detail in the goaltender's pads, or on the player's helmets is amazing. Each strap on the pads are there, all the way down to the skate, and the strap that goes through it. The faces are great, when they are the real players' face. What I mean is, not all of the players have their actual face, but rather a generic one. The ice looks more realistic than ever, with skate cuts and reflections aplenty. This is only the second wave of NHL games on the next-gen systems, and it can only go up from here, so I remain optimistic.


Gameplay

With the addition of the skill stick last year, it made controlling the puck more dynamic and creative, not to mention easier. They added on to some of the things you can do, and now you can actually separate yourself from the puck to do a deke. The new skating engine is huge in my opinion. Never before have I felt like I was actually skating, playing a video game. Checking is more difficult, therefore more realistic, and you can catch pieces of a player, knocking him off balance. Now, as many of you know, I'm a goalie guy. They FINALLY added a goalie mode to the game in '08! It has some kinks to be worked out, namely going back to your post, but hey it'll do! I am now enjoying the game like never before, and it really adds variety to the game. It's almost like having two games in one, NHL Forward 08 and NHL Goalie 08. You can actually set up cycles on the power play, and the other team's defence will play it like an actual penalty kill. This adds realism to the game like never before. A great combination of easiness, and realism make the gameplay absolutely phenomenal.

Atmosphere & Feel

The sound is what stands out to me the most. You can now hear more chatter between players that is actually relevant to the play at hand. A player will yell "Man on!" when, you guessed it, there's an actual man trailing you! Players will call for passes up the ice, and referees will let you know when it is a delayed offside. Crowds are vastly improved as well. They will yell "Shoot!" on the powerplay, and won't hesitate to boo you if you are being outplayed. Goalie and team chants are also great. The overall "feel" of the game is an awesome sensation.


Authenticity

I am a real stickler when it comes to authenticity, and EA has it down to a T. This is a big reason why I choose EA over 2K, which is frankly a joke when it comes to authenticity and realism. Goalies have proper pads (which can all be selected in the create-a-player mode) and players have proper equipment. All of the arenas have their little quirks in it, and the scoreboards are right to the best of my knowledge. The only real issue I have is with the goal horns. I absolutely love goal horns, mainly because it is the only thing that sets arenas apart in the era of cookie-cutter rinks. They either have generic horns for some rinks, or old horns that haven't been used in the past 3-4 seasons. Only a select few have their real horn. How hard can it be to get the right horn to match the rink? Other than that, it's all peachy.

Overall Game Depth

The new practice mode is a great addition. Sometimes you just want to goof around and try some dekes you can never pull off in a real game. Plus you can hone your skills there if you are new to the game. Dyansty mode is lacking... again. Many glitches and issues make it frustrating at times, but it is an overall fun experience. Not a lot has changed from the years before except some CBA rules and an improved contract negotiating system. This is the only area 2K is better than EA. The addition of the AHL makes it more time consuming and, in turn, more realistic.


Final Thoughts

Best hockey game ever made, period. There are some small glitches and annoyances, but that is only to be expected in sports games. Improved computer AI and create-a-play, combined with the improved skating and hitting engine makes this game feel like no other. Practice and dynasty mode should keep you occupied until next year, and the improved creation zone will add some much needed flavour to the franchise. By far the most realistic hockey simulation I have ever played, and it can only be improved upon next year. If it's a ranking you're looking for, I give it a well-deserved 9/10

You can also catch my review of the music featured in this game at Sound Central by clicking here.

17 comments:

Ron Guillet said...

How are the goalies? I find that always the worst problem in hockey games. They flop more than Hasek but the difference is they don't save it! :S

Eggshmeg said...

Better, they added some new flashy glove save movements, and a different cover the puck up movement so they look more realistic. They don't bite as easy either, so it's harder to deke them out.

If you don't like the way the goalie is playing you can just take control of him yourself in the goalie mode!

Anonymous said...

Hey man, I just wanted to say you did a hell of a job.


Cheers
oilersguru

Anonymous said...

how do you release players in dynasty mode?? i tried to sign a free agent and i can't because there is no room on my roster. I've been playing nhl for many years and this is the first year I can't seem to release a player. please help if you can!

Eggshmeg said...

It's a glitch and the only thing you can do is run out the time remaining on their contract.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else have problems with their 08 constantly freezing up and not being able to read the disc? mine wasnt even working so i went out and got a brand new one and it still has the same problem, a friend of mine had the same problem im just curious if its just a string of bad luck or if everyone is like that. and if so if there is anything that you can do to prevent or make it a less of an occurance?

Eggshmeg said...

I've heard of alot of people having that problem, but me and my friends have been lucky and they've been working fine, no freezing whatsoever. I personally think that it varies from shipment to shipment, so keep swapping until you get one that works.

Anonymous said...

Major freezing issues on the Xbox 360. Do a search and that's all you see. EA is supposedly sending me a new copy, but we'll see. Others that I know have tried 4 different copies and they all freeze and are unplayable.

DO NOT BUY THIS GAME UNTIL THEY GET A PATCH OUT FOR IT!!!!

Greg Balloch said...

There is a patch our for it. Like I said before, it works fine for me and my friends, so it's on a game-by-game situation whether it's faulty or not.

Anonymous said...

how is the online play?

Greg Balloch said...

Online play is pretty sweet, but has it's usual glitches and lag. They added some new modes, but I haven't really used them.

DIM said...

Online play is great, especially online Co-op.

Bob said...

And for those who want to go back on memory lane... look at NHL 08's Granddaddy:

http://www.hockeyzoneplus.com/blog/2008/02/activision-granddaddy-of-nhl08-nhl-2k8.htm

Michael said...

I can't believe no mention was ever made here of how there is no capability for online co-op play vs. CPU. This has always been one of the best functions of console hockey games (dating all the way back to NHL '92 for the Sega Genesis), and the fact that they purposely did not implement online co-op is bitterly disappointing. Shame on you, EA.

Anonymous said...

Hey, something I loved about NHL 07 for the regular x box is the free for all, why did they take it out for 07 on the 360 and 08??? I loved it I can't see why they wouldn't bring it back.

Anonymous said...

What can you find in the creation zone? anything besides create a player? is there create a team?

Anonymous said...

Anybody experience freezing issues that pop-up spontaneously on the 360?

I can't use my created team for any mode, nor can I even check the roster. This was working yesterday, and today...freezing, multiple times.

I had heard of freezing issues, and my copy has worked fine since I bought it. Do games develop glitches over time? My Xbox is relatively new as well (October '07).

WTF?