NHL 07 Review
It’s quite likely that a lot of you reading this review have NHL 06 and are trying to decide if you should “upgrade” to NHL 07. Well in short there’s not a lot that’s significantly different in this year’s incarnation of the game. If you like to buy the game every year to have the latest in roster and uniform changes then there’s no reason to hold off on purchasing NHL 07 – it still provides a fast and enjoyable hockey game experience. If you’re not sure if the upgrade is worth it or are new to the NHL series, read on…
I’ll start off with what’s different with NHL 07 to save you NHL 06 (or NHL 2005) owners a little time. This year’s controller change is the “skill stick” which lets you use the right analog stick to direct passes or drop the puck to a trailing teammate. This gives you more control over the passing game as in the past using a single button press to pass would mean that sometimes the puck would go in an unintended direction to the wrong player. Not so any more, simply push the stick up and to the right and you’ll send it to that winger dashing down the ice along the right boards. It’s a nice addition to the game but not something that has a significant impact on the gameplay.
A change that does have a greater effect on gameplay is the new handling of one-timers. One-timers are not as powerful as before as their accuracy has been adjusted to a more realistic level. More often than not one-timers will sail wide of the goal but they will occasionally let you steal a goal from your opponent, which is more the way they work in the NHL. This changes the game from ridiculously high-scoring affairs to simply high-scoring affairs in which you have to work a little, but just a little, harder for your goals.
Overall, player control is good in the game. You can tap the left stick to perform deke moves or use a face button to “auto deke”, there’s a speed burst button but it comes at the price of an increased chance of losing control of the puck, and you can target specific areas of the goal when you shoot. For some reason the button used to switch players on defense seems a little slow to react, but overall player control is nice and tight.
The game’s AI does a pretty good job of moving the puck around and looking for a good shot on offense, and of cutting the angles to the goal and disrupting your plays on defense. Even so, it is not too difficult to rack up the goals on the standard difficulty settings as the play of the goalies is not up to par with the rest of the team. Whether or not this is a bad thing will depend on whether you’re looking for a hockey sim or for lots of goal-scoring action. Personally I enjoy the high-scoring shootouts but I can see hardcore hockey fans yearning for something a bit more realistic.