dooops's NHL 07 (Xbox 360) review

Almost but not quite

Gameplay: For years I have been wishing for a more realistic hockey game. What used to bother me was that the games were too fast. It's not that I could not keep up with the game but I found it interesting that a player could make it from one end of the ice to the other in less than 3 seconds. Being able to one time the puck at 95mph on a backhand while not facing the net. These are a couple of examples of things I used to not like with older hockey games. EA seems to have gotten the right recipe this time around. The players cannot stop on a dime and take off like a bat out of hell. They actually build up steam when skating instead of going from stopped to full speed. You are unable to pass the puck right through two or three players. It'll hit a leg! If you are out of position and try to one time the puck you will either get the shot off but it will not go very fast or you will miss it entirely. Just like it should be. The dump and chase strategy utilized in the NHL can actually be executed correctly. As the defending player cannot just grab the puck and pull off a blistering 100% accurate pass to the player at the middle of the rink. The addition of the skillstick adds an entire new level of play. It is difficult to get accustomed to at first but with continued practice the rewards are well worth it.

One thing they added was when you are skating and you let go of the left thumb stick instead of stopping, like in NHL06, you continue to glide. This is useful but when you are so used to the old way you often end up getting creamed by the defensemen. I find it more difficult to perform a complete stop to trick your opponent as you have to push back now, instead of releasing the left thumb stick, which often causes you to turn instead of stopping.

Graphics: EA has always had good graphics for their hockey games. This one is not leagues of difference from it's previous counterpart but it's still very lovely to look at. The goalie animation and AI is very much improved and it makes it lovely to look at. For example when the puck used to trickle between the goalie's legs he used to get back up and skate backwards into the puck, thus causing the puck to go in the net. However, when this occurs in NHL07 the goalie stays down and attempts to glove down the puck, which is what a goalie would do in real life. This leads to beautiful and realistic replays. I find myself pushing the next button a lot less during replays and I take the time to watch almost all of them. Especially when playing against a friend on Xbox live where you can have a lot of friendly banter between one another.

Sound: The sound is nothing spectacular in NHL07. You have the same area sounds on an infinite loop and it becomes repetitive quite quickly. I was disappointed, once again, with the play by play announcing. There is not much variety of what the announcer says and it seems that every stop the goalie makes was "a shot that had goal written all over it" despite you flipping it in from center ice. The game play had slowed down to help realism and I thought this would give the programmers the ability to have the play by play be more accurate and easy to keep up with the game play. However, I feel they fell a little short. Someday they will get it right, perhaps in NHL25.

Value: This game, just like any other sports game, has a lot of replay value. You are not always scoring the same way each time. The ability to put real NHL strategies in place because of the game play slow down really adds value to the game. You will certainly get your money's worth because of the amount of hours you will undoubtedly put in. Reviewer's Tilt: EA angers me when they omit things that can easily be put into the game. For example, my friend and I were playing against each other and we went into a shootout. We had a lot of fun and said we should just have a 1 on 1 shootout. Of course EA did not implement this into it's game!! Why not? You obviously have the ability to do it, I just finished having a shootout with my friend. Same goes for cooperative playing. I can play against a friend but not on the same team!! WHY NOT!? For the love of god please listen to your fans and add the ability to play a season together on the same team or even as different teams. With Xbox live there is no reason why EA cannot pull this off. This is a serious enough issue that if NHL08 does not have these options I can say that I am for sure not buying it's next installment. The reason most people buy sports games is to play with friends. Not alone against the computer no matter how good the AI is in the game. Overall the game is great fun but it just leaves a sour taste in your mouth because of the omission of certain modes that would cause them maybe 1 week of development.
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