NHL 2K7 vs. NHL 07

User Rating: 7.8 | NHL 2K7 X360
I have never struggled in choosing between two sports games as I have in the last week. I have been buying and playing NHL 2K games since the brand was introduced in 2000 and have always been very pleased with their quality and depth. However, I saw the previews of NHL 07 and had to admit the shot stick intrigued me as well as enhanced puck physics. I was conflicted to try it though because I have been sore at EA Sports since they nabbed the NFL license in retaliation of 2K games cutting the prices on some of their sports titles. An EA Sports fanboy I am not. However, I knew I had to try NHL 07 for myself because I knew I would always wonder what the other side of the fence was like. So I took the plunge buying it knowing I could return it if it came down to it. In addition, I bought NHL 2K7 because I admit I am a 2K fanboy at heart and no matter what I would always enjoy their style of hockey.

NHL 07 automatically takes you into the a shootout to immediately get a sense of the new style. I was taken aback because it seemed a little unnatural at first because my fingers kept straying towards the face buttons (which you can use if you don't like the stick). However, within 1 or 2 games it felt totally natural and gave a sense of control I never would have guessed a game could convey. Its one of those situations where its easy to learn but has the depth there to become a master. When you pull off a shot it just feels more rewarding than any other hockey game. You feel part of whats happening without the need of any of that Wii nunchuck nonsense. What makes the experience even more powerful is how the controls are connected brillantly with the rumble feature (See PS3 we still need rumble). When you take a shot or perform a body check you FEEL it. It seems like most 360 games have toned down the rumble feature from the original Xbox days but this game uses it to full effect. It does not feel superficial like it does in so many other games.

The graphics, especially in 1080i, are really, really nice. There is just a more realistic feel to them. I was concerned when I heard about flaky animations and framerate issues other reviewers cited. Some of the animations could use a little more Crisco but they are by no means ugly and I just noticed them because I was really looking for them after all the complaints. If you just play the game, I guarantee you will be just so captured up in the action that you was easily miss most if not all. I have not experienced any framerate issues but then again I never noticed frame rate issues in Quake 4 either so maybe my 360 is special. Online so far there was a short period of a hiccup but performs otherwise very admirably.

The thing that really takes away from NHL 07 is the lack of features. You get Quick Games, Dynasty, International Tourney and Dodge Shootout. Navigation through menus is pretty messy unlike last years EA Sports games but because there are not many features you won't be using it much. The Dynasty mode has a good amount of depth but there is no organic feel to it between managing the team and playing the game. It feels like to separate activities.

Finally, how did it compare to NHL 2K7? Big difference! NHL 2K7 is a good looking game and they did a great job with the ice effects. The animations are more varied and smooth especially skating. However, I think NHL 07 player models, coaches and audience look more realistic. There are so many things to see and do in NHL 2K7 that it feels like a trip to Hawaii while NHL 07 feels like Idaho. This can be a deal breaker for some especially for those who do not buy a lot of games. You definitely get your money's worth in terms of content with NHL 2K7 so if you want something that can really occupy your time you may be better off with it. However, keep in mind they are pretty much the same things you could do in NHL 2K6 if you have that game already. This also goes for online features which is another area that NHL 07 is in dire need of next year.

The Cinemascope feature in NHL 2K7 is the biggest change this year and it does make you feel the drama and glory of the game. The music, as many have said, is nice but just way to soft to get you really into it. NHL 2K7 tries to immerse you with its audio and visual effects while NHL 07 tries to immerse you with the actual gameplay. What it really comes down to is the experience. NHL 07 is truly an evolution of Hockey just as Fight Night Round 3 was for boxing. Once playing it I could not help but feel kind of detached from the game when I went back to NHL 2K7. Its that big of a change. If you want to go for something different I stronly suggest giving it a try. However, if you need the more robust features or just hate EA Sports then you will not be disappointed with NHL 2K7. I am sure that NHL 2K8 will come up with its own shot stick next year so you can always wait until then.

Thanks for reading my review.