NHL 08 PS2 – Review and Re-design Concept

I. Synopsis

NHL 08 is this year’s edition for the National Hockey League game in PS2. Very much like the previous versions of the game from the last few years, NHL 08 gives the same cold feel of ice-hockey. The game is about ice-hockey which you can play in season mode, tournament, dynasty, and play-offs. The game controls have been retained a bit and an amazing feature like the steady stick has been added to this game. This skill stick feature provides a better control for the puck and makes the game a bit easier. NHL 08 for PS2 adapted almost every feature of the previous NHL games.

There haven’t been many changes since NHL 06 and 07 apart from the slight improvements on the graphics and the stick precision. Although most sports games tends to recycle their previous games and slightly tweaks those that have changed through the year, NHL 08 still looks and feels much like the older versions. Many gamers have been really disappointed on how this game remained the same as most of these hockey fans have been expecting quite a bit more in this year’s release. There are many things in this game series that should somehow be updated or replaced. Take note of the commentators, the camera angles, the fight mode, these are only some of the current game’s features that are getting really old. These are some suggested improvements and changes that we can add to the game or the future releases.

II. Improvements

Here are the parts or features of the game that is suggested to have improvements, changes, and additions.

Slower motions

Difficulty

Two refs & linesman to call the game

Salary Cap in the free agent signing screen.

New commentaries

Fighting

Create Player features

III. Implementation

III-A. Slower Motions

It is really noticeable that the game seems a little too fast compared to real life ice hockey. The game looks more like basketball when these players dashes back and forth. It would look better and more realistic if the animation and game speed would be reduced a little bit so it would look more realistic.

III-B. Difficulty (AI)

The AI is good, but not too smart. There are few decisions in the game that a goalie could do or a player can decide to pre-empt the opponent. It appears that the AI do the same thing over and over like the goalie deciding to keep the puck to get a call and doesn’t even think that sometimes, it is good to make a throw. Also, during some slap shots, the opposing goalie seems to never learn and keeps on going the wrong direction and misses the puck. There should at least be an alternative action for each player in deciding where to go on some instances.

III-C. Two referees & two linesmen

It would seem better and realistic to assign a ref to call the game instead of pure computer generated responses even if the ref didn’t really see what actually happened. There should be two referees and two linesmen in the ice to fairly call the game. Even if they just position themselves in an area where the penalty or call actually happened, it would seem realistic.

The referee also should act and think like a human. These referees doesn’t have ESP or future sights to see where the player nearby will go and where it is safe to go or what is about to happen that can hurt them. There should be instances where the referees will collide with a player and react on it. Both player and ref can either lose balance and fall or struggle to regain balance. This would give a more realistic touch with the game. It is simply making the referee exist and be part of the game.

III-D. Salary Cap in the free agent signing screen

When you’re in the free agent signing screen, you will notice that the salary cap is not visible. The player will not know if he is already over the cap until he/she goes over into the contracts menu. This is a little bit of a hassle and really inconvenient. The proper solution is to display the salary cap within the free agent signing screen so that the player can check it out instantly as they sign in a free agent.

III-E. Commentaries

Gamers who have been playing this game and have played the previous versions will undoubtedly notice the same old commentaries of Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson who seems like programmed or scripted to say the same thing or comment whenever something comes up. It is really obvious that both these commentators seem to repeat the very same line as a goalie decides to keep the puck or as a face off begins. It might not be too expensive to somehow record two or four different lines assigned to an event in the game. These lines or comments will alternately be applied or goes in turns as the assigned event takes place. This way, the players will not notice the repetitive lines that these commentators seem to have memorized is actually looping in turn by 4’s.

III-F. Fighting

The fighting mode is one of the most popular portions of this game. People really love this scene within a hockey game. Therefore, gamers would really enjoy an improved fighting mode for NHL 08. These are some ideas that will add some spice to this cool portion of the game:

Refs on the circle

First of all, the scene seems really unrealistic as if people are really afraid of getting close to these two players in a bout. At least two of the referees should be behind these players as they fight. This way, it will be like a real bout where these refs are getting ready to pick up the body of the loser and take the winner back or break them up.

Balance

It seems that these players are robots. Even after being hit hard, these players don’t seem to slip or somehow having a near fall. In real bouts, especially on ice, balancing is quite a huge issue. If one player is hit hard in the head, he should somehow flinch for a second and try to regain a bit of consciousness. Also, since the two players are moving within the arena as they fight, there should come a time that these players slip and lose a bit of balance. This way, these players will not look like robots or androids.

Bruise and Blood

Where is the blood? These players fighting against each other are not mannequins or machines. These players are still human, and once a lip or an eyebrow is badly hit with a fist, blood should gush out that cut. There should be at least a bit of facial bruise or blood in either the eyebrow or lips which are really soft portions of the face.

Dynamic Camera

Even if the cameraman is way far behind the glass and in a crane, the camera should have at least a dynamic motion or view in this exciting fight portion. Since this is a game and the cameraman is either the animator or the programmer, we can give a good angle or panning for the camera. A good camera motion is to revolve within the two fighting players 360 degrees or have instant close-ups or slow motions during a nasty shot in the face. The camera can also pan on an opposite direction while revolving and change an angle when it’s out of focus. Also, it would seem awesome if the camera will shake as the analog controller vibrates or the entire screen shakes a little whenever a good punch is landed.

Intense fight music / Crowd

There should be an intense fighting or rock music as the fight goes on. Having this kind of music adds aggressiveness and intensity to the fight. Also, the crown should go wilder and shout louder when two players fight just like in a wrestling arena.

III-G. Create Player features

Balanced Attributes

The create player mode is good. But what is really exaggerated in this feature is that you can actually create a super player. With all perfect stats that average 100, this player must be the descendant of Hercules. It is not too bad to have a really high stat, but a better way for this is to have a limit to the point that a player can contribute to each stat. Yes the player can have a few stats go on a 100 but there should be balance in the attributes so that the player he created will still be human. There are 20 base stats that a player has. All by default has a value of 75. Let’s give a point limit like 150 or 300. This is fair enough and can still create an in-born superstar.

More play name

This feature is really cool for the player creation mode. However, there are still a few more names that some players are looking. These are some additional play names:

The rock

The blade

Bomb

The Spark

Rattlesnake

The storm

Spiky

The Doctor

The Show

Fearless

Lion

The Spear

Thunder

Spook

Joey Boy

Panther

Cowboy

Tamer

Beast

Skull

Bash

More facial features

pic5.jpgThere are really few options in customizing the facial features of the player. Here are some of the common facial attributes that can be added to the current selection. These features may also come in different tones or colors.

Sideburns

Long goatee

Completely bald hair style

Mid length hair

Long Pony tailed hair

Face paints

Nose piercing

Facial tattoo

Custom mask

In conclusion to this, NHL 08 for PS2 didn’t really please much of its gamers and fans. Many are disappointed for seeing yet the same thing that was in the past year’s NHL game. Therefore, having these minor to major changes in the game may somehow give a new impression for the gamers and will somehow gain its lost or diminished credibility. Improving this game’s current features like the referees, the commentaries, and the fighting mode are really essential for this game to boom a little more. Almost every sports games are expected to go as what the sports fans actually see on live or on TV. Adding more flavor to the game and improving certain parts that are really obvious to the gamers will boost up NHL 08’s fun factor.

Since NHL 08 already has some of the features look fairly realistic, there are still a few loose ends that need attention and some fixing. Features like the salary cap not appearing in the free agent signing screen, the repeated commentaries, should really be improved because these are some of the most obvious marks of the game that the avid NHL gamers doesn’t like much. There is still next year’s game in line; these few changes could be really helpful for the future NHL game releases.

***

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s