previews\ Jul 12, 2007 at 8:00 pm

NHL 2K8 - PS3 - Preview

E3 2007 Preview

Realism is more than state-of-the-art graphics and statistically-accurate gameplay. It's about the essence of what it is you're playing and how well that essence matches reality. NHL 2K8 kicks off with a new face-off system, new poke check controls, and evolved one-timer mechanics that will keep players from scoring with ease -- an act in previous hockey games that was not on par with the sport.

Skilled players may be able to perform one-timers just as before but with one difference: they're not likely to score. Taking a more natural approach, one-timers will require skill in the form of player placement (their location on the ice), position (are they facing the puck's direction?), and the location of your opponents. During a face-off you will now use the right analog stick to attempt to gain the puck (forehand or backhand). Likewise, defending players can poke check by pushing the right stick, which sends the game back to the real world. Poke too often and you could get a penalty for tripping, high sticking, etc.

As as far as the physics are concerned, there will be different pokes for each situation. Poke up close and it'll be a quick and hopefully effective assault. From afar, count on a slower poke as the player tries to reach out to his opponent. And if they collide, that's around the time the Joe Louis Arena DJ will play "Hold Me." Don't count on that song appearing in the game, but do expect some serious heavy metal / punk rock beats. The full lineup is to be announced at a later date, but what I heard sounded really good.

Before  NHL 2K8 is released, there's little doubt that the visuals will help seduce potential buyers. In short: they're gorgeous! You'll spot differences around every corner. Player faces are smoothly rendered and consist of some of the most realistic designs ever seen in a hockey game. Wait, scratch that -- these are the most realistic faces, period. You will instantly recognize your favorite players. After being wowed by the athlete upgrades, you'll spot tiny textures on every jersey that look good enough to touch. The ice, with its harsh top and countless scars from hours of getting thrashed by skates, is enormously eye-catching. Player animations are excellent, but that's an aspect 2K Sports is known for delivering. As a result, they've created new animations specifically for the goalie, making the game more not only play, but also look more realistic than its predecessors.


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