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Written by DM on Monday, October 15 2007

The EA versus 2K Sports battle has been raging for years now, and each side has firmly entrenched fans who would never even agree to give the other side a kind word, much less play the opposing company’s game. On the other hand, there are fans of the actual sport, like me, who go with the game we think better represents the real thing. With the exception of football, this has led to games being developed separately, yet they end up with similar features. The 2K offering in hockey, NHL 2K8, is the better looking of the two this year, as is with most years. The game is mostly the same as it was last year, with a few tweaks and animations changed or added. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you which NHL game is for you this year, all I can do is tell you all about NHL 2K8.

Hockey games, and sports games in general, have been integrating the right thumbstick for a while now. It used to be for special moves, dekes, or dumps, but now it is set to play an even bigger part. Last year, EA introduced the total stick control in NHL 07. Not to be outdone, this year, 2K introduced the Pro Stick control. Both methods are basically a way to use the right stick as an extension of the on-screen hockey stick. This means many of you will have to learn how to play the game all over again if you wish to use the right stick, and chances are, you will.

The left stick is still your primary means of directing your character on-screen, but the right stick can now be used to handle the puck directly in a one-to-one fashion. It is fairly simple to get the basics down, though, so do not worry too much. On offense, the right stick, when in Pro Stick mode, you control the stick and puck position while skating. If an opponent is coming up on your right, you simply push left and your player avatar will make the necessary move left. Pushing right works the same. Pushing front and back is a bit different, but overall, it is not different enough to get into here.

On defense the right stick still works the same way as it did last year, with poke checks, hooks, and slashes all assigned to different directions on the right analog. I do not suggest you use these illegal moves unless you are sure you can get away with it. The game already calls offside too much!

The biggest benefit in usig for the Pro Stick control is shooting the puck. You can use ether the right bumper for a wrist shot, or a left trigger and bumper for a slap shot. When you shoot, the great thing is, the right stick is going to control where the puck is being put, be it over the glass into some lucky fan’s face, or right between the goalie’s legs for the sweet spot hit.

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