NHL 2K8 ReviewJason Leyanna
Do you remember playing Ice Hockey back on the NES? Well.. for those of you who don’t… you had to use your imagination to visualize all of the rough checks: Stubby Fat Guy would smash Tall Skinny Guy into a padded wall, but all you'd see is a mangled mess of differing colors and hear a beep from the NES' sound chip. Technology has significantly improved since those days of old. You no longer need to imagine that the pixels are a hockey player gliding down the slick, icy surface toward the goal with stick in hand and puck being shot between the goalie’s legs. The crowd roars in jubilation and the buzzer sounds.
Gleaming lights from high above penetrate the open air of the arena and are faintly visible on the ice below. The players’ helmets have a shiny glint of an authentic reflection from this light. Teammates look as if they are speaking to each other while they are benched. Yellow highlighting is used around a player to indicate which one is in possession of the puck and the player you are supposed to be controlling.
NHL 2K8 has very nice graphics and copious amounts of realism, but the gameplay doesn’t quite suck me in as I would have hoped…You move the puck with the right control stick, while moving your player with the left control stick. This allows more precision than previous games and helps to avoid accidentally launching the puck at an inopportune time, but seems like just one more thing to worry about.
The games take a little time to load, given the vast amount of visuals and audio that must be preloaded it’s not too surprising, but I have seen more visually awing games load more rapidly. So... you’ll have to wait patiently (or impatiently) for a few seconds for the game to load. To immerse yourself right into the action, there is a Quick game mode to get things off to a rapid start. Other traditional options include: Franchise, Season, Tourney, and Challenge. Take your pick.
Whichever mode you choose, Sound is another aspect that either hinders or contributes to the game experience. Fortunately, Bob Cole and Harry Neil are good commentators, and their voices add to the experience, keeping it from getting dull.
Like it or not, there is in-game advertising as in a real arena, and everywhere else for that matter. For instance, Duracell sponsors the video replays. The ads do add to the realism and don’t overshadow the other gameplay elements so much as to make it less entertaining. Names and numbers are still clearly visible on the jerseys in the cinematics, and the numbers are still visible throughout gameplay as the view changes to a more heightened viewpoint. The jersey and other physical attributes seem to have relatively realistic physics to their motion as they sway with the movements of each player or opponent.
Commentating, advertising and graphics make NHL 2K8 an especially realistic experience from the moment you pick up your controller. It is almost as if you are there watching a game live with your friends, except you are sitting on your comfortable leather couch instead. This particular franchise started with an initial release on Sega’s Dreamcast. Six games (and years) later, the graphics have improved many times over, and gamplay has more functionality and options, but lacks the fun factor to convert non-sports fans. On the other hand, fans will be satisfied with this year’s edition of 2K’s hockey franchise. If only the gameplay was as enthralling as the graphics are realistic.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.