STAFF REVIEW of NHL 07 (Xbox 360)


Thursday, September 28, 2006.
by Longball77

NHL 07 Box art Hockey Revolution, in the last four years there has been more innovation in the sport of hockey than at any other time in recent history. Four years ago was the introduction of the composite one piece stick that has allowed for harder more accurate shots (like the pros need to shoot any harder).

Three years ago the lock out, us die hard fans had to endure the hockey lockout and we found out there was something other than Hockey Night in Canada to do on a Saturday Evening in Canada. Two years ago, we had the emergence of the new NHL which has promised us a faster, more exciting game. They introduced larger end zones, no centre line with smaller neutral zone and who can forget the salary cap. It had general managers in Toronto, Detroit and New York on the same page as Nashville, Pittsburg and Atlanta scrambling to figure out a way to get under the salary cap or to figure out how to reach the bottom of the cap range.


As revolutionary as the salary cap was to the NHLs general managers was last year, this year brought that same excitement to Xbox 360 owners with their version of the composite one piece stick. EA has brought us the Skill Stick Revolution. We can take charge like never before, controlling the skating moves with one hand and with the other stick handling your way through the defense and using the new control to shoot the puck upstairs. EA has taken the game play to a whole new level of excitement and control.

In addition to the control stick they have also brought us an improved AI that allows for a more challenging and realistic game. Not only have they revamped the skating, deking and shooting engines, now playing against the computer it seems that it learns and adapts to your usual moves with an overhaul to the AI you will no longer cut across the middle and shoot for the opposite corner and see the red lights go on. You now have to learn the game the way coaches have been preaching to the young players for years: slow down, look for the open man, change the view of the ice with the new quick view change and make the saucer pass to the man that was breaking down the left side that nobody knew was there and with a quick flick the red lights goes on.


The excitement can be felt all the way through the game. So far all I have been able to talk about is the improved physics of a game. There are other exciting aspects of this game. I have enjoyed the franchise mode since its introduction and now with the salary cap turned on, the contract options of 2 way contracts, the waiver system where you can claim players from other teams for virtually nothing just add his contract to your salary cap.

You can still negotiate contracts but now you can have bonus, incentives and an amazing high low salary structure where you can pay up front the bulk of a players salary or negotiate a lower front end and larger back end so you can sign a player for less and trade him off in year 2 when his salary starts to climb beyond his usefulness to your team and you can pawn him off with a higher salary to other teams so you can sign the young up and coming free agent instead. You can really take control of your own franchise. Or if the real thing is not what you are looking for you can play some pond hockey or an international tournament against some of the greatest hockey nations in the world. Create your own world cup of hockey.


With all of the in game improvements I have almost forgot about the sounds of the game. NHL 07 has captured the essence of what it is like sitting back and watching Hockey Night in Canada on a cold winters night. Except for one thing, you are in control of the remote, you get to choose what game is on and you get to control the volume of the music, or listen to the banter of the commentators. The in game sounds of the crowd, the puck hitting the goal post or glass is just like being in a real live rink.


Suggestions:
EA has prided it self on the realism of the game. There slogan states it all if it is in the game, it is in the game. This game is all about the strategy that can make you win the ultimate prize, Lord Stanleys Cup.


Overall: 8.6 / 10
Gameplay: 8.6 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10

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