Thoroughly impressed with this game. Who thought EA would bring back real online play, with "my couch verse yours" gameplay that they invented and then turned it's back on many moons ago. The "new" controls have been a project of EA sports for some years, and this year I was comfortable enough with their execution to make the switch myself, although many on my couch were happy to see the classic controls as an option. Gameplay top notch, minutes to learn months to master.
On the downside I would have liked much more customization options out of my custom teams and stadiums. Their are still a couple times when controller settings should be tweak able prior to a game to avoid a pause, and found myself unable to change a teams strategies in a ranked game causing my couch many fights.
I have a gamefly membership because this game did not come out until 9/12/07. And had they not made my couch so angry about those few things it would never leave my PS3.
My couch goes by gotdirt, if your couch wants some, come find us.
This is quite possibly the best and most realistic hockey game ever made, and perhaps it is no coincidence that it is also the hardest. It seems that most reviewers that did not like this game had a tough time with the controls- and they are not kidding, the total stick control is very, very tricky, but once you get used to it, it is an undeniably spectacular asset to this franchise. When I tell my friends that you only use both joysticks & the top R & L buttons, and that X square O and triangle don't really do anything, they all reply, "What???" The important thing to note here is that you CAN CHANGE TO TRADITIONAL CONTROLS.
I've played the EA hockey games since NHLPA on NES. These games are great for their lasting appeal- I recently ran into a friend with a fully functioning NES NHL '94 and we played for about 3 hours. NHL '08 can only be more impressive on this aspect; I've had the game for about a year now and I still have a tough time beating the computer on the 2nd easiest setting, no joke. This is mainly due to the spectacularly realistic goaltending- if you think you can just make a quick pass to your winger for the easy top shelf one-timer, you've got another thing coming to you. Also, the defense adapts to trends in your offensive strategy, so if you think you can streak your right winger in past them every time you are certainly mistaken.
The other noteable feature in this game is the Create a Play mode- in which you can create plays to be execute in a set list of offensive situations (2 or 3 man breaks, power plays, behind the net plays) which are then automatically set in motion for you during the game when your puck carrier enters his lane. It's complicated, but an amazingly interesting feature.
The game is lacking in extras- namely bonus milestones and unlockables, but the game play is so fun that it is barely missed.
Practice your stick control in the shooting, skating, and shootout mode, play some games and you'll be hooked.