Reviewed by Jimmy | 09.28.06
2K Sports had a full year behind the development of the Xbox 360 version of NHL 2K7. So gamers are expecting a little more then what they got out of NHL 2K6. I'll have to hit the ice, take a few hits and as always, score a few short handed one timers to see if NHL 2K7 is everything hockey fans expect.
One of the new focuses in NHL 2K7 was to create a more cinematic feeling the overall presentation of the game. Visual Concepts went to work and came up with the in game option of Cinemotion. Cinemotion basically amps up the music tracks to fit the game a little better, adds some extra cut-scenes, and gives you a more dynamic camera. I instinctually jumped at this option and turned her on. Although the new Cinemotion visual style is cool, it's not really groundbreaking, or overly crazy with the graphics, it's more a nice touch that breaks up the monotony with a boost to the overall presentation.
Speaking of graphics, 2K7 has been bumped up to the next level for animations and some extra little details. NHL 2K7 looks good, but still has low points; don't even look into the crowd. The 2K series has always been about the gameplay more then the graphics which is prefect, but it would be nice if they tried to keep with the visual flair of other games in some small areas like the menu system. It's still good hockey, and the new Cinemotion helps NHL 2K7 stand out ahead of previous versions.
"If it's Not Broke, Don't Fix It"
The overall mechanics for NHL 2K7 haven't really changed all the much which is great considering their formula has worked so well in the past. The motto "if it's not broken, don't fix it" applies here. Visual Concepts also accomplished building a new Skating engine which helps make the overall look feel more polished. The players are stepping a little closer to being human which is great if you look at their competitors more arcade styled genetic freaks. I feel like the game has been fine tuned to a point and since I can't really pinpoint a fault, it's a winner.
Let the Tweaking Begin
Fans of the NHL 2K series will automatically hit the options and tweak them to get their desired game. Like always there are sliders for almost every little nuance in 2K7. I have to suggest spending a little bit of time in here because for injuries in every game isn't cool and the one timer is a little too easy. Now, one timer is understandable, but on the default settings I had injuries in ever single game. That not cool, but luckily it can be adjusted. I wonder if the developers spend much time on balancing the game, or if they just expect that gamers will take care of these themselves. I guess it's a minor complaint, but for those who don't want to fiddle it could be a slight annoyance.
Beatdown to Rival Towns
What's left in NHL 2K7 is the expected mini-games, fifteen in total, if you can pull away from your franchise season long enough to play some pond hockey. NHL 2K7, as always also offers a great online mode full of stats and attached achievements. One other small detail to this year's game is the inclusion of Rivals. Each time has three assigned rivals which help boost your teams moral if you win, nothing worse then loosing against your rival team. The rival system is used in all the modes in the game and even though it's a small touch, it seems to carry some weight.
Almost Glitch Free
Unfortunately my time with NHL 2K7 wasn't without glitches, which I wasn't expecting. Although I came across a few glitches like the camera sticking when going into a fight, the overall game runs smooth. I'm sure if there are any major problems 2K will issue a patch over Xbox Live to fix any unforeseen problems. NHL 2K7 has always been straight forward hockey without a lot of the special extras. Even though NHL 2K7 has some new features, the pace of the game along with the A.I. is the best reason to play NHL 2K7. It's safe to say if you liked the previous 2K NHL games you will like this years edition.
NHL 2K7 is the smoothest action you can find unless your watching the boys live. NHL 2K7 is improved over last years Xbox 360 version and the features like Cinemotion add a more depth to the overall presentation. The NHL 2K series isn't about to fold yet, and given this years performance, the competition will really have to step it up, to be comparable NHL 2K7.