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The advancement of last year's skill stick is a good idea, but could have used a bit more work. When done right, the moves tend to be an automatic way around a defender. And when they don't work, you end up looking like an idiot. Some will master the new skill stick controls and dominate with it while others will get frustrated and simply stop using it. But what makes the skill stick so effective is the sad fact that there are some clipping issues. Your puck reacts to players as it should, but sometimes when performing the new skill stick moves, your hockey stick will pass right through another skater. So instead of banging into a body as you should, you slice right through them. Fortunately, NHL 08 has so many other good things going for it that this won't likely kill a hockey fan's love for the game.


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Among these "other good things" is the inclusion of every AHL roster. Now when you call up players, you are calling up true potential stars of the future. Then there is Goalie Mode, which puts you in the skates of a goalie the entire game. You watch from the goalie's perspective, with total control. Being a goaltender is not an easy task and if it proves too tough for you, at least you can switch out of the mode at any time during a game. Add to all of this a better player creation system and the ability to create teams. And last, but certainly not least, is the addition of online leagues with full stat tracking and the ability to play 3 vs. 3.


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For all of the good things added this year, there are still a few areas in need of greater attention. The Dynasty Mode has seen some tweaks to smooth out problem areas, but hasn't been given any significant upgrades. The strongest improvement is with free agent signings. Players now take more than just cash into consideration. They also consider the success of a team, how many minutes they are likely to play, and the age of the team. This is then balanced against cash and play time to decide if it's worth signing. The Dynasty Mode is serviceable, but won't feel too different for those who played NHL 07.


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