NHL 2K7 PS3 Review

You may have recently read a review for 2K’s other big sports game on this very site. In the review I stated that the game was “another fantastic addition to the now long running series” and made numerous mentions of the game being very deep and realistic. That was an NBA game and this is an NHL, one so of course there are differences between the two games but seeing as both games were created by Visual Concepts you’d expect some sort of gameplay similarities between them. If you did though you’d be very wrong as NHL 2K7 brings a more arcadey-style of gameplay to the table. It is nowhere near as deep and it is damn sure not realistic but nevertheless it still a fun game to play.

As the years pass by and new editions of the 2K games come out, the devs always seem to try and bring something new to the proceedings. For this year’s effort the big selling point is something called ‘cinemotion.’ What is cinemotion? you may ask. Well, other than it being a word that MS Word does not seem to like… *right click* *ignore all* …that’s better, it is best described as a new style of presentation for the game. Rather than having a game unfold like it does on TV, with logos, commentary, and other options appearing on each corner of the screen, matches will now unfold with different music, different crowd noise and a selection of other sounds and effects that all change depending on whether you are winning or losing. For example, if you are soundly beating the opposing side the crowd will be loud and up in raptures at how well the team are doing and a nice up-tempo tune will be playing in the background. If the opposition then score and start mounting a comeback, the music will begin slightly changing to a more sombre feel. It is a nice extra but it may not be to everyone’s taste. Thankfully it can be turned off if you like to play the game the way it always has been.

On the ice there is really only one gameplay change worth noting which is the option to play a drop pass back through your legs to a player behind you by tapping R1. Options like crease control, icon passing, enforcer, and on-the-fly play-calling all remain intact as they were well received by the community last year. Sixaxis support is also available and is pulled off reasonably well, offering players the chance to check the opposition by twisting the controller in the appropriate direction. If you are not the sort of player who likes tossing your controller about then there is also a button option to pull off the same move.

In terms of the different modes available; Franchise is probably where you will spend most of your single player time, with loads of options to explore. The mode plays pretty much the same as it always has but this time boasts a few new options such as heightened rivalries between players on certain teams. You are also able to get calls from the team owner where he talks about what’s happening with the teams and what sponsorships players are getting (which adds to their attributes for the upcoming game). Of course all the other roster options are still there along with a well thought out rookie scouting mode to find new players to add to your team. As always, this is a fun mode to take part in and something you can find yourself playing with well into night. Party mode once again holds all the game’s mini-games which are fun in short bursts; while the Skybox options lets you view all the game’s challenges, unlockables and other stats. Online modes are also available with tournaments, leagues and full season options waiting for up to 30 player to take part in. As with the rest of the game this mode is pretty much the same as it was in 2K6 so there is very little for me to say about it.

Visually the game is very impressive with loads of effects used to make everything look that bit better. The player models are well built and look just as you would expect them to with the power of a next-gen machine behind them. The player’s faces are also highly detailed and even though ice hockey may not be my number #1 sport I am sure I would be able to name a few players in the game from just seeing their face. Other nice effects have been included with the player’s jersey animating well and having a realistic flow to them. In fact the whole game is animated well with the players moving in a very lifelike way across the ice with only a few bugs here and there to ruin the effect.

Commentary for NHL 2K7 is provided by Bob Cole and Harry Neale – the same guys that did 2K6. Once again they do a respectable job of calling the action but unfortunately do not give a highly detailed analysis of the happenings on-ice which may disappoint stat-fans. Interestingly, their overall style of commentary seems to thump the guys that did NBA 2K7 and they honestly seem much more excited to be there. A few more voice samples can be heard from coaches and the players on the rink and on the sideline as they shout out orders, instructions and other one-liners as the game goes on. The soundtrack for the game is once again a love or hate affair as this time they have opted for a full indie-rock line up with a long line of bands I have never, ever heard of before.

Ultimately, even though NHL 2K7 is fun to play it is almost too accessible to have the long lifespan of its NBA counterpart. Also the game has not evolved a lot since its 2K6 predecessor meaning there is very little new to see other than the pretty graphical spit and sheen. In all honesty it is probably the best ice hockey game available today but I personally feel that it is far too close to the previous edition to warrant spending £50 on. Of course, seeing as it is the only game of its genre currently on shelves for PS3 if you need your hockey fix that will probably be exactly what you end up doing. Personally for me this game would not be great value for money but if you are a huge fan of the sport that might not be the case for you.

A good game, possibly great depending on your love of the sport.

7.5 out of 10

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