Xbox 360

Review by Matt Paprocki

2K Sports


Graphics: 8

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7


2K Sports has apparently innovated themselves right out of the hockey market. After creating the best physics model ever in a hockey game and the greatest feeling of skating on the ice, they've now hit a wall. Bring on the gimmicks.

nhl2k71360.jpg (74979 bytes)Cinemotion is the latest buzzword to be used in a sports title. It's an interesting concept, if not all there in actual execution. The idea is to create the atmosphere of a feature film, from the locker room to the ice. Every face-off becomes an event, and "conversations" between coaches and referees are here in full detail.

In its default form, music plays constantly over the action. The music itself is fine. Through three periods, it simply has to go. The secondary option is to cut the annoying music and trim it down to key moments while excellent commentary takes over during play. The third eliminates Cinemotion all together aside from a few cinematics.

New animations create a small sense of freshness in a series quickly going stale. Drop passes create new offensive opportunities, though you could play an entire game and not even know they're available. Crease control returns, allowing players to take all the blame when they're goalie misses a save. From a behind-the-net viewpoint, this has nothing new added to improve it, and in multi-player, it does nothing but create a jarring viewpoint switch.

Speed and flow are captured perfectly in NHL 2K7, something fans of this series are used to. As time passes however, nagging issues become apparent. One-timers are slowly becoming the only way to score on higher difficulties, and the game seems to have a keen focus on this tough-to-pull-off-in-real-life maneuver. Shots per period are usually staggering, making it difficult to find a balance between realism and arcade style play when adjusting sliders.

Many of the noticeable changes can be found off the ice. Team chemistry plays a role; forcing players to change lines between every game to ensure the players can gel on the ice. This makes it increasingly difficult to pull up players from the minors (and sadly, there's still no ECHL or other license) and get them set on the team. This has an obvious effect on the ice, especially in those tight games at the end of a season or a playoff run. It's added depth that requires spending additional time in the menus to ensure the squad on the ice is exactly right.

Mini-games return as always, including the sadly addictive air hockey. Once they include this with added Xbox Live play, productivity in this country will never see a lower mark. What Xbox Live support is here is strong as always. NHL 2K7 requires smooth play, and the lack of lag keeps it that way. Season play, tournaments, and quick matches are all available, though it's hard not see a missed opportunity when pond hockey is only included for multi-player outside of the online environment.

NHL 2K7 is impossible to fault, but with the engine stagnant, it's not the "need every year" game it used to be. Skipping a year is the best route to take. Cinemotion is a dud, though underneath that sits a reliable game of pro hockey that provides the best skating experience this industry has ever seen.


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Last updated: Sunday, November 12, 2006 11:15 PM