Shoddy ports â€“ where would we be without them? Probably in some mystical land where there wasnâ€™t a crap game in sight, and unicorns frolicked on the lawn. But unfortunately for all you unicorn frolickers out there, lazy ports of games are here to stay, as evidenced by NHL 08 for the PC.
As is the EA way, this version of NHL gives players a few minor updates and little else. The squads have been updated to reflect the current season, a few gameplay tweaks have been made, but otherwise this is NHL 07 in a new wrapping. The most significant change is the introduction of the skill stick, which lets you pull off moves with the right analog stick. This is assuming, of course, that you have a dual-analog controller for your PC â€“ if youâ€™re stuck with a keyboard, you might want to just stop reading now. Even if you do have a controller, the skill stick seems to be a bit hit and miss â€“ sometimes itâ€™ll fail to register what youâ€™re trying to do, making moves much harder to pull off than is necessary.
In terms of gameplay, NHL 08 feels very arcadey; this isnâ€™t a completely accurate simulation of ice hockey by any means. This might disappoint some, but it means that hockey newbies (like me) can get into the swing of things a bit more easily. However, after some playing I did notice a few techniques that exploited weaknesses in the AI â€“ something that you can find in most sports games, but it seemed a bit more prevalent here.
All the modes from the last game are here, such as the US tournaments, a free-for-all mini-game, and the dynasty mode. This last mode lets you manage a team throughout a season, and is certainly the mode to go for if you really want to dive into the world of ice hockey. Unfortunately, itâ€™s a bit crippled compared to the version found on the Xbox 360 and PS3.
Itâ€™s really unfortunate that the PC is essentially a port of the PS2 version. What this means is unspectacular graphics and features, when the next-gen versions are the ones that really shine. Models arenâ€™t terribly impressive, textures are pretty plain, and the general feel of the game feels a bit loose.
This game isnâ€™t a complete write off - it just has many caveats and addendums attached to it that have to be worked through before itâ€™ll be worth your time. If you:
1) Really like hockey
2) Do not own any other NHL game, and
3) Own only a PC, and not any other consoles
â€¦then this game may be worth looking into. But even if you have a PS2, itâ€™d be better if you got that version. Better still, if you have a 360 or PS3, get one of those versions â€“ theyâ€™re much better than the one developed for PS2 and PC. As it stands, NHL 08 on PC is a pretty average affair. Fun can be had if youâ€™re really into your hockey, but there are better games to choose from.