2/16 – NHL ‘ 08

Hello and welcome. My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s video game of the day.

Today’s game is NHL ‘08 developed and published by EA Canada, now known as EA Vancouver. NHL ‘08 was originally released on Playstation 3, Playstation 2 and PC on September 11, 2007 and released on Xbox 360 a day later allegedly due to shipping issues.

NHL ‘08 was the official ice hockey game for the 2008 season. The primary game mode, Dynasty Mode, allowed players to recruit players to play for the Stanley Cup. Players could also play as all 29 teams on the American Hockey League and train players up to be recruited for their National Hockey League team. The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 version even include the Sweden and Finland hockey leagues, while the PC and Playstation 2 versions include the German and Slovakian leagues.

Like most EA Sports titles, the games look and feel tries to simulate television broadcasts of actual NHL games. Bill Clement and Gary Thorne commentate and each game starts with a quick pre-game show and the end of the national anthem. Gameplay takes place from a top-down camera perspective and uses minimal UI to try and preserve the feel of watching a real game.

Game modes include a quick play option which just lets players choose teams as well as the aforementioned Dynasty Mode. There are also multiplayer modes, both local and online, that allow for 1v1, 3v3 and shoot-out modes although the online servers for NHL 08 are no longer active. Finally, a practice mode allows players to practice plays and even create plays they can use in the other modes. While it is noted that this isn’t a simple task, players who want to try to create their own plays have a large number of tools for doing so.

Critical reception of NHL 08 was very positive for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions. Many praised the AI as being greatly improved from past entries, with many claiming it felt like playing against real NHL players for the first time. Puck control and analog movement were also highly praised. Between the two version, the Playstation 3 entry was criticized for not maintaining a consistent framerate, unlike the Xbox 360 version.

The PC and Playstation 2 versions of NHL 08 were not as well received as they lacked many of the upgrades the other versions received. The AI felt similar to the older versions and the controls lacked the same polish.

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