- NHL 08 EA made the first real innovation in hockey games last year with the new skill stick controls. In NHL 08, those controls have been tweaked and improved and are actually better than before. No other hockey game manages to be as realistic or as satisfying as NHL 08, and even though it is solidly a simulation now rather than the arcade-style score-fest of years past, it is good enough that both hardcore and casual fans alike with really enjoy it.
- NHL 2K8 2K has dominated hockey games for a long time, but last year was the first time EA was ever really a threat. In 2K8, they implemented a new control scheme and some tweaks to the gameplay to try to give it more mainstream appeal and, unfortunately, they fell flat. The new controls are too complicated and are just plain not very satisfying or intuitive to use. 2K8 still has the sliders that have made 2K sports games so great in the past, so you can customize your experience to your liking, but it is hard to shake the feeling that the gameplay took a definite step backwards this year.
- Winner : NHL 08 NHL 08 is one of the most satisfying and best controlling hockey games ever. They took everything that worked last year and improved upon it to make a really great game of hockey. NHL 2K8 introduced some questionable changes to their gameplay formula and controls, which really feel like a step backwards for the series. With that said, I think NHL 08 is probably better than 2K was at its peak anyway, so there wasnt really anywhere for that series to go but down.
- The features list is actually fairly even between the two games. Both games have a ton of modes to play with and all of them are well executed and worthwhile. NHL 08 comes out slightly ahead in terms of online play, but NHL 2K8 has a better single-player franchise mode.
- Winner: Draw
- This is another area where NHL 2K8 kind of struggles. Sure, it has a ton of modes, but outside of the great franchise, many of them are unchanged from last year, and even last year I questioned how often you would really play things like pond hockey or the minirink. NHL 08, on the other hand, was improved in most areas and introduced some new features like play creation and a great practice mode. Of course, in terms of sheer value for your dollar, both games fail pretty miserably when you consider that their last gen versions are $30 and $20 while the current gen versions are both $60.
- Winner : Draw
- NHL 2K8 NHL 2K8 is easily the best looking 2K hockey game yet. The players are nice and large and it is easy to follow everything that is going on since the player with the puck has a big circle under them. Everything has a very sharp and bright look to it, and the ice is nice and shiny and great looking.
- NHL 08 NHL 08 sports slightly more detailed players and arenas, but the players are smaller and not as beefy looking. Also, the puck itself is just a little smaller and it is a little harder to follow the player with the puck since only a small triangle over their head designates who has it.
- Winner : NHL 2K8 NHL 08 might have more detailed players, but NHL 2K8 is brighter and the action is easier to follow so it is the more appealing game visually. This category was really quite close, but running the games side-by-side, 2K8 edged it out.
- The sound category is basically even. Both games offer solid sounding action out on the ice. The one difference comes in the commentary, and NHL 08s team of Gary Thorne and Bill Clement do a better job of following the action and delivering more of a real life broadcast quality to the game.
- Winner : NHL 08
- When it all comes down to it, 2K dropped the ball this year while EA really stepped it up. At the default gameplay settings, NHL 08 is miles ahead of 2K8, and even after tweaking the sliders and making all of the other adjustments the 2K games allow, NHL 08 is still probably the better game. It just controls better and feels better and is far more intuitive and satisfying than 2K8. In terms of features and value, both games offer similar feature lists and similarly overpriced MSRPs, so those categories were both even. NHL 2K8s bright and sharp visuals slightly outpaced 08s tiny (but detailed) skaters, but NHL 08 came back with superior audio commentary. In the end, it all ultimately comes down to gameplay, and NHL 08 is the superior of the two.
- Winner : NHL 08