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Xbox 360






Electronic Arts (NHL 08); 2K Games (NHL 2K8)



EA Canada (NHL 08); Kush Games (NHL 2K8)



E (Everyone)



September 2008



- Either game will satisfy the casual hockey fan

- NHL 2K8 is a faster game

- Almost too many features in each game to effectively use



- 2K8's control falls flat

- Incrementally "better" than previous games, with even a step back in some areas



Review: NHL 07 vs. NHL 2K7 (360)

Review: NHL Hitz 2003 (GC)

Review: NHL 07 (XB)



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NHL 08 vs. NHL 2K8


nhl 08          nhl 2k8

NHL 08 (left); NHL 2K8 (right)


Pre-Game Show: The Manual

In 2007, NHL 2K7 swept the floor with NHL 08.  I’m pretty sure EA is just trying to save some money or some focus group said they don’t read game manuals, but all of their game manuals are severely lacking, NHL 08 included.  2K8 has a relatively exhaustive amount of “How To” content, which will no doubt come in handy when we get to 2nd Period.


1st Period: How They Look

Crowds manage to be universally mediocre in both 2K8 and NHL 08.  Why is it that the pinnacle of great crowds was NHL Hitz 2003?  No idea, but crowds get 




- Xbox 360 Game Reviews

- Sports Game Reviews

neglected again this year.  However, it is increasingly difficult to discern any differences between the on-ice action.  Honestly, without the in-your-face branding of each game – EA and 2K Sports logos seem to be splattered everywhere – I wouldn’t be able to easily tell which game is which.  The movement and the look of each player is very good


as well, and each games moves at a brisk pace.


How They Skate: Physics

Last year I complained about overly bouncy puck physics, but that seems to have taken care of itself this year.  Between the two games it seems like a wash, but I might give the edge to 2K8 thanks to the more satisfying body checks, which actually feel like they connect.


Period 2: Stick-Handling in the Corner

NHL 2K8 trips over its skates in this period.  In fact, it lands teeth first and shatters whatever dentures it may have had.  The default control scheme for 2K8 is more confusing than most fighting games; there are “modifier” buttons which change-up what each button does.  I played five games before I figured out how to satisfactorily body check someone!  I just gave up after that – I shouldn’t have to think while playing a hockey game so I dug through the control options to find the more classic configuration, which makes the games much more enjoyable because you don’t have to fight the controls.  But 2K8 also suffers from a tiny amount of lag between a button press and the on-screen action.  One can definitely acclimatize to it but in comparison to NHL 08 it’s very noticeable.  Both support use of the right stick for performing dekes, shots, and even hits.



Last year the clear winner was NHL 2K7 when it came to online play.  This year the playing field is definitely more even – it didn’t matter what game I put in I always had fun while playing over Live.  However, having some friends over to play, the choice was always NHL 08.  Based on the empirical data – blathering drunks spouting off about what they really, really love about each – it’s simply because NHL 08 is more “comfortable”; the hits are more satisfying and the action more responsive, even if NHL 2K7 is a faster back-and-forth game.


nhl 08          nhl 2k8


Period 3: Options

I remember the days of the early Genesis NHL Hockey games so when I scan through all the options available in each game I feel a bit spoiled.  Each game has many customizable options and some modes I know I’ll never touch beyond an exploratory feel for the review, but the two games in this case are very close.


How Does it Sound?

Though I’d still like each rink announcer to be the actual rink announcer, the crowd noises are usually enough to make it clear what arena you’re playing in.  With either game, a 5.1 surround sound system will likely make you feel like you’re there – hovering about 35’ above the ice directing players like some kind of Canadian God of Ice.  The play-by-play and color commentary can get a bit old as you take your team through multiple seasons (just turn it off) and the pronunciation of some of the names is off but each year both games get incrementally better in this area.



I’ve stopped playing 306 games for Achievement Points, honest.  Judging by my friends list, sports titles seem to be easy to score 1,000 Achievement Points but I’ve never come close.  Typically, it’s a long haul process to get them all but I play each game like crazy for about three weeks so I collect only a handful (and possibly more depending on the friends that come over the course of the year).  That said, each has some satisfying Achievements to unlock.


Overtime: Which One am I Still Playing?

Well, neither for the moment.  And can you blame me?  Halo 3 and Orange Box have pretty much obliterated any possibility of me going back to play either for at least another month or until the Christmas party season kicks in.  But from my experience so far, it’ll likely be NHL 08 that gets dropped into the 360.


Final Score in Overtime:

NHL 08: 8.5

NHL 2K7: 7.0


- Omni

(October 22, 2007)


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