NHL 08 is the newest addition to EA Sports' long-running hockey series, and while it seems as though the series is shifting to the PS3 and Xbox 360, the PS2 got its own version this year.
As I was playing, though, I noticed many odd similarities with this game and my other EA hockey title, NHL 04. Very odd similarities. As if they were one in the same…
And then it hit me. They were exactly the same game. NHL 08 is indeed NHL 04, just with a few updates here and there and a new control system added on. The customization features are the same, some of the models are identical to those in NHL 07 even though players look different, and the graphics are very slightly improved from the same game four years ago.
The features are pretty much standard fare – create a team and create a player are both here, as is dynasty mode and quick play. Dynasty mode suffers from problems concerning signing free agents in the off-season, while both creation modes offer pretty much the same options that were available both last year and in 2004.
European teams and AHL teams are both back in NHL 08, but they suffer from the same problem that plagues all teams in this game: stupid, stupid A.I., both on your team and on your opponents. At times, the game's A.I. is incredibly clumsy, and for a franchise that has been in existence so long, it's not exactly acceptable for this to be in the game.
The game's graphics look passable at best, though there are issues concerning some player models not matching up with their real-life likenesses. There's also the fact that parts of the thing, like the scoreboard, look like they've been left the same for the last few editions of the game. A lot of the in-game commentary is also recycled, but given EA Sports' track record, this isn't much of a surprise. Online play is also back in the PS2 version, but with Playstation Network and Xbox Live already out there, you may not find a lot of people to play with.
On the newer consoles, NHL 08 is a different beast, but on the PS2, it’s the same old crap we’ve been playing for the last four years, just with a few new tweaks and a roster update. This game is just another potential thing that gamers can point to when they say EA basically puts out the same game every year, because well, it is. I wouldn’t bother with this or NHL 09 on the PS2, because it’ll probably just be NHL 08 with a shiny new cover. Maybe it’s just that way because EA Canada didn’t directly work on this version of the game, but I hope it doesn’t happen again.
Pros: Skill Stick is a great addition to the series.
Cons: Practically nothing changed from NHL 07, or heck, NHL 04 for that matter. New controls for stick-handling can be a bit hard to use at times.
NHL 08 is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Mild Violence. This game can also be found on: PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.