NHL 2007

By on October 29, 2006

Stick wielding fun from the comfort of your couch.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

With the PS2 gradually becoming a relic, game developers are fast turning their attention to the more powerful gaming consoles on the market. This year, EA Sports churned out a real winner with NHL 07 for the Xbox360. Sadly, as with most game launches, the same game was ported out to different consoles, with a rather poor result. The Playstation 2 version of this game offers a pretty enjoyable gaming experience, but lacks much of the finesse and fine-tuning of the 360 version. Still, for genuine hockey fans and newbies alike, this game is a real kick to play.

Unlike previous version of NHL, this release allows players to literally dominate the rink with the innovative use of the dual analog sticks. Your left stick controls your player, while the right stick allows you to make tricky passes to your team mates when cornered. Simply tap R1 to send the puck ricocheting towards the goal. This simple ‘tilt-and-flick’ action means that almost anyone can pick up a controller and start playing like a pro. Gameplay is fast paced almost all the time, so you’re going to need to keep your passing skills on the ball and your eyes glued to your opponent. But don’t get too friendly – just like the real thing, if you get too rough with your opponent, you’ll be sent to the penalty box for a healthy time out (not a fun thing, believe me).

Controlling your team is relatively simple – you gain immediate control of the player closest to the puck, and you can tackle opponents by simply tapping the triangle button. You do have a hilarious ‘boost’ option which will let you skate from one end of the rink to the other in a matter of seconds – I initially found this to be a rather unnecessary feature, but soon found it to be a godsend when the AI was hurtling towards my goal.

To satisfy the hockey fans out there, NHL 07 has every single major team to play, as well as the option to create your own custom team from scratch, right down to what sort of chant you want the crowds to cheer during gameplay. Still, most players will be quite comfortable with the extensive lineup of teams, which are all quite well balanced out. The game carries forward a ‘Dynasty mode’ from previous NHL games, which puts you in the role of a GM taking your team to victory and winning the Stanley Cup (this may all sound like Greek, but will make sense once you start playing the game). As a GM, a lot of pressure is put on you both by your team as well as the team’s owner. Fail to rack up enough points, and you’ll be out of the game. This mode also features a ‘trust’ system, so only if you build up enough trust with your owner can you upgrade your team. Call me old fashioned, but I’m happy with just using good old fashioned cash. Besides the Dynasty mode, there’s a quick play option, which will let you jump right into the action against the AI or a friend. You also have the option of online play, which comes with pretty much any EA game. 

Presentation wise, nothing much as changed from previous installments. Given that this game is being played on the nearly-defunct PS2, the graphics are quite standard for the system’s capabilities. This doesn’t mean that the game looks bad – players are modeled just like their real life counterparts, and move fluidly on the rinks. The game does manage to tap into what’s left of the PS2 to render a visually pleasing game. What does bring the game down a few notches is the boring commentary. Sports games are supposed to have excited and enthusiastic commentators, but the voices featured in this installment sound downright bored, and its mostly the same phrases repeated over and over. The background music is mostly hip-hop, which at times feels a bit out of place, but isn’t so bad that you’d turn it down.

NHL 07 definitely plays excellently on the Xbox 360, but unfortunately the PS2 version has a lot to try and beat. This port does offer some pretty good hours of sport gaming, but is overall a less enjoyable experience than on the 360. Still, hockey fans might want to give it a shot before it makes it to your local discount bin.


The Scorecard
GAMEPLAY
8
Some good fun to be had here, easy controls make the game a breeze to pick up and play without complicated button configurations or long-winded tutorials.
GRAPHICS
7
Given that it’s for the PS2, the graphics engine does a pretty decent job of rendering player models and animations.
SOUND
7
Commentary gets downright annoying, but the in-menu tracks will have you getting your groove on.
VALUE
7
Worth it if you want a decent hockey game for the PS2, otherwise just invest in the 360 version for smoother gameplay and visuals.
FUN FACTOR
7
Online play helps change the pace of the game and break away from the OCD AI.
OVERALL
7.2
Though not entirely a mind-blowing game, NHL 07 still holds its ground as a decent hockey game for the PS2.

About

A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys hurling fireballs and tinkering with the latest gadgets. Follow him on Twitter as @theregos

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