NHL 08 continues EA's sports series with a focus on improving the controls and delivering a more authentic hockey experience than the publisher's previous effort on Xbox 360, which introduced a new 3D engine. The right analog "skill stick" not only initiates dekes near the goalie, but can also be used to trick defensemen by pushing the puck away in various directions. The skating physics now allow players to adjust the puck handler's speed simply by nudging or pushing the left analog stick with varying pressure. Both tight turns and wider crossovers are also possible by altering the left analog stick's arc motions.
One of NHL 08's more innovative features is the option for owners to edit plays in one of three phases: rush, power play, and offensive zone. Each play type begins with a basic formation and allows users to record subsequent movements on the ice and save the final result for in-game action. A more robust create-player feature supports such minute adjustments as the amount of curve on sticks and blades. Teams can also be created from a pre-defined list of logos, font styles, nicknames, and uniform types. Each equipment piece can even have custom color schemes with the game's new palette editor.
In addition to NHL teams, the game features 29 playable AHL squads, whose athletes can be developed gradually in the farm system until they are ready for their big-league call-ups. New online game types via Xbox Live include Leagues, Shootout, Versus Play, and Team Play. The Leagues option lets NHL 08 owners create 32-team leagues with variable schedules and online stat tracking. Shootout mode has players showing off their stick handling skills on offense and as goalies in a choice of ranked or unranked contests. Versus and Team Play modes allow players to create custom match-ups using any combination of friends on the same system, computer AI, or online opponents. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide