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NHL 07

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Written by DM on Saturday, September 30 2006

When it comes time to review one of the year’s perennial sports games, there are really only two questions that gamers want to know. First, is the game better than the pervious year’s version, and if so how. Second, is the game better or worse than the competitor’s, be it EA or 2K. Well, we are here to answer both.

The main improvement this year is the addition of the skill stick, a brand new way to control the puck and player. We will get everything else out of the way before we go into the stick though, since it is the main attraction, so to speak.

The graphics in this year’s version do improve over last year’s version for sure. The cut scenes are great looking, and when you get in close you will really notice how good looking the play models are. The animations are motion captured flawlessly as well, and they look so true to life you may forget you are not watching a real game. The game does suffer from the classic EA frame rate choppiness problem though (the same one Madden NFL 07 suffers from). It is almost as if when the game drops frames of animations, it drops the frames that actually have value, instead of the filler frames.

The audio is the same as last year, and it is great. Gary Thorne and Bill Clement return to announce for EA, and they are certainly one of the best duos around, if not the best. The sound effects are fantastic, with the bone crunching hits in-tact, as well as the shooshing of the puck on the ice. Even the clanging of the crossbars when they are hit by the puck is authentic. Of course, it wouldn’t be an EA game without the soundtrack featuring all the latest pop-music hits. Filled with pop-punk and mass-emo style songs, the “trax” should appeal to those top 40 lovers among you.

Last year, we did not even get a version of EA’s NHL game on the Xbox360. This means that no matter how many modes were included in thie year’s version, it is more than we got last year. That being said, NHL 07 only features Dynasty, World Tournament, and shootout mode besides the regular play modes. In fact, when you pop in the game for the first time you are dropped right into a shootout match which functions as a tutorial on the new skill stick control scheme. The notable mode omissions include a create-a-team feature and all of the mini-games that make multiplayer party time so much fun.

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