Sept 21, 2007
We sports gamers live to complain. If the latest version of our favorite annual title isn't significantly different than last year's - except, of course, for every little existing detail that we already know and love - then we all moan that the developers are lazy and resting on their laurels. However, when the makers move forward with innovations to jar a mature series out of the doldrums, we writhe in loud agony on message boards around the world.
To that end, NHL 2K8 will tick off some and delight others. Although there are a few minor gameplay modifications here and there, for the most part it's exceedingly familiar to anyone who's been mixing it up in the series for the past couple of seasons. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, after all - the on-ice mayhem is perfectly smooth, big hits send skaters flying all over the ice, there are plenty of modes for single players and groups alike, and an in-depth franchise returns to suck up all kinds of disposable hours.
Above: The PS2 version doesn't look nearly as good as this, but it plays better
These days, though, the gaming hockey gods have been decidedly unkind to any concept of the "old way" of doing things. Between EA's Skill Stick implementation in all of their games this year and 2K's own earth-shattering (and controversial) remapping of their next-gen controls, the PS2 version of 2K8 is about the only puck title that you can sit down and play without teaching yourself a new way to do just about everything. Frankly, part of us really loves that.
Another old buddy, the Skybox, returns as well, stuffed with scads of unlockable teams, jerseys, rinks, and assorted old-time-hockey goodness, as well as a den of mini-games for your goofing-off pleasure. Sure, it's all been done before, but it's still an addictive treat to pile up the tokens and open up rinks on space stations or pit the 1980 Soviet and American squads against each other one more time. Who doesn't want to keep reliving the Miracle on Ice over and over again?