NHL 07


Review by Matt Paprocki

EA Sports


Graphics: 8

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 6

Overall: 6


While the Xbox 360 gains all of the attention in this year's hockey video game war, EA Sports quietly slips out NHL 07 on the current generation platforms for a low sticker price of $30. It's in someway their own admission that the focus wasn't there as they completely change hockey video games on the next generation consoles. NHL 07 isn't a bad title by any stretch; it's the same game we played last year.

nhl071_xbox.jpg (26805 bytes)Instead of adding in the new shooting and puck handling mechanics the company has hyped for 2007 on the 360, the Xbox version gets the opposite. Instead of shooting and controlling the puck with the right analog stick, it's now used for passing. Each basic direction performs a different style of pass, and drop passes now come into play frequently (as they should).

Shooting is done on the right trigger, which not only feels awkward, it makes the entire scheme feel convoluted. Checking has always been on the B button, and suddenly, it's shifted to Y. The new passing mechanism isn't worth reworking the entire system, and in the end, comes off as a tacked on.

It was apparently necessary though so the marketing team has something to work with. Changes elsewhere are so minute, casual players will find nothing of note. You can now play a dynasty in other worldwide leagues, the minor leagues play a slightly larger role, and a new "trust" system is in place letting you know how much faith the team owner has in your squad. A few brief mini-games hardly add value.

Other on-ice changes are minute at best. The graphics engine is still sharp, and the goalies make some stunning saves thanks to some superb collision. This is a fast game of hockey too, and while speed is emphasized, there are restrictions. Going into a speed burst offers little control of the puck, and the defense can quickly take it back if they're in the vicinity.

Online play is still lacking, offering a meager exhibition match. No tournaments, no season play, and hardly any reason to hop online unless friends are on. Commentary is also disappointing. Jim Hughson has been with the franchise since 1998, and it sounds like it. There are lines of commentary here that have followed him since he started, and color commentator Bill Clement is generally a mute.

It's notable that over the past few years, the hockey genre has received the most accurate video game representations of a sport to date. The two games from EA and 2K Sports battle every year to only a mild reception. It's a shame too, even with the notable lack of new content. The EA Sports team has made incredible strides in shifting their series from arcade style to deep sim, and no one seems to notice. This year people have no reason but to move on.


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Last updated: Sunday, September 17, 2006 03:21 PM