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NHL 2K7 Xbox 360

Published by 2K Sports
Developed by Visual Concepts
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £39.99

Earlier this year we reviewed NHL 2K6 for the Xbox 360 and all things considered, it was a very good ice hockey game. If we had to pick fault it would be that it didn’t come across as a game that was designed with the next generation console in mind. It felt like a port, you could say. In fairness to the developers most titles that are released around the launch period of a console frequently do, so to some extent that’s excusable. Here we have the second NHL 2K game to appear on the Xbox 360 and this time there are no such excuses and in fact there are no need for them because NHL 2K7, in terms of presentation at least, takes sports games to a whole new level.

NHL 2K7 is the most comprehensive game in the series so far. The modes on offer are numerous: Quick Game, Hit the Ice!, Party Mode, Franchise, Tournament, Mini-Rink, Pond Hockey and of course Xbox Live (which allows you to setup your own online leagues). There’s a new style of presentation including a new camera angle, an advanced Pro control system allowing drop passes, shadow marking etc., crossovers, gliding and wrap around goals are now possible too. The Franchise mode has been improved taking such things as team chemistry and home advantage into account. There are 17 Xbox Live achievements which range from scoring a break away goal in a single-player game (10G) to being an online champion by winning a league with at least 8 players (115G). In fact all of these additions and improvements help to make NHL 2K7 the best ice hockey game you can currently buy on any platform.

The most impressive aspect of NHL 2K7 is its presentation which is known as Cinemotion. On first loading the game you’re given an option to use the Cinemotion style of presentation or the traditional method that you’ve probably seen in ice hockey games for years now. To not sample the Cinemotion presentation would be criminal, although it’s worth pointing out that not all aspects of the Cinemotion presentation will be apparent to deaf gamers. By far the best aspect of it is the new parametric camera which is about as good as a camera view could get in a sports game. Basically it brings you closer to the ice without restricting your view. The camera subtly zooms in and out in order to retain a great view and because you’re not as far away as you are in the usual camera modes, it makes for a more immersive experience.

Graphically NHL 2K7 is an improvement on NHL 2K6. The game actually looks like it was developed with the Xbox 360 in mind rather than simply being ported over from another console. The detail on the player models and the rinks (particularly the ice) is impressive. The game looks great on both HD and standard TV sets but you really do get the full effect of the parametric camera when playing the game on a HD display. The frame rate is smooth throughout with hardly any hint of slowdown which again is an improvement on NHL 2K6.

We’ve already mentioned that certain aspects of the Cinemotion presentation will not be apparent to deaf gamers. Music plays and the tempo of it changes to reflect how the game is progressing with more dramatic parts playing in tense situations. It’s possible to hear your players call for the puck. There are also scenes involving the players and the coach before the game and during the intervals, which are not subtitled. All of this is something deaf gamers won’t be fully aware of which is actually quite a disappointment. In fact it’s more disappointing than simply missing out on the game commentary, although it’s no more problematic. All of the information outside of the games is subtitled, so it’s perfectly possible for deaf gamers to enjoy the game.

The bottom line of course if you’re an ice hockey fan is whether to go for NHL 07 or NHL 2K7. NHL 07 has the skill stick control system, which is actually very impressive but it lacks quite a few modes and suffers from occasionally clumsy keepers. NHL 2K7 has the impressive new Cinemotion presentation, a full roster of features and a genuinely engaging single-player and multiplayer experience that make it our ice hockey game of choice on any format at the time of writing. That said both games are certainly worth the money but if we were pushed to pick one it would have to be NHL 2K7.

Overall Game Rating 9.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

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NHL 2K7 is the best ice hockey game we've played on any format. The new Cinemotion presentation and the parametric camera are wonderful additions.