A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, as in real life, this hockey game contains violence. You can hit other players. This game also helps teach kids about the sport of hockey and the NHL. The game has an online component, which can expose users to unmoderated play.
What's it about?
NHL 08 doesn't try to reinvent the puck, but it adds a few features and fixes some problems found in earlier versions. This game delivers a more realistic kind of hockey than previous versions of this game.
EA has added much-needed game modes to the lineup. Dynasty mode players have deeper management and coaching options, including a new negotiation system that lets players settle the athletes' salaries. The new Practice mode is very welcome, since it explains the game to newbies and lets gamers figure out when to use different formations, how to perform a slapshot, and how to knock the puck between an opponent's legs, and provides an opportunity to practice skating around. Players can even create their own plays and then use them against the computer or human opponents.
Is it any good?
The computer's artificial intelligence seems well balanced. Scoring is set at a more reasonable level than in NHL 07, and EA has also reduced the number of monster hits and checks in the game -- which seems realistic. When the big hits do happen, they are much more dramatic.
Textures are sharper across all platforms, but the PS3 and Xbox 360's HD resolution almost brings the game to the level of television presentation. The online component is smoother and presents a lot less lag than before. EA Sports is continuing their annoying practice of dropping multiplayer support for earlier versions to "encourage" players to upgrade each year. But the upgrade might be worth it this year, especially since they've added support for online leagues (a fan request for a number of years now).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the real NHL, its rivalries, and why the game of hockey isn't as popular with U.S. audiences as it was a decade ago. Is it because of the violence that is a part of the game? But is that violence any more than what happens in a professional football game? Did this game make you feel like a hockey player and does it make you want to play the game?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.