Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Monday, September 25, 2006

NHL '07 review, complete with Pink Taco joke!

Sorry for the lack of posts, mayhaps a quick game review could mend a fence or two? No? You don't care what I think about this game? Oh...well...uh...here it is anyway...

Any sports fan thinks this at least once in their video game playing lives: “I can do it better.” We watch in disgust as Alexei Yashin shrinks from pressure, Sidney Crosby flops like a Junior Forsberg and Eric Lindros gets his 5,000th concussion.

Mere seconds after my friend fired up “NHL ‘07” for the X-Box 360, I realized this wouldn’t be one of those games. The introduction of the “Skill Stick” is not necessarily a completely smooth one – for one thing, it’s really freakin’ hard to get used to. But that doesn’t change it from being the most immersive innovation in nearly a decade.

Honestly, I used to think that the “2K” series did a swell job of capturing the “feel” of hockey, but EA nailed the essence of hockey harder than the Pink Taco guy on Lindsay Lohan. I haven’t had the chance to play the newest 2K game … from what I gathered, it’s quite excellent with one caveat: it plays pretty much the same as the ones I buy year-in and year-out. Being that I score at least 3 goals per game because I know exactly when to shoot against AI goalies that go post-to-post slower than Joy Thibault...let's just say that's a little bit of a letdown.

NHL ’07 is the most realistic hockey game I’ve played, sometimes to a fault. You know all of those failed breakaways that were one precise pass away from a highlight reel? Yeah, there’s about a million of those in this game.

Passing is so bad, I pull a Pavel Bure and only do it when I absolutely have to. I was stunned by how robotic the checking is. I read about canned animations, but it’s absurd. I thought I experienced my last “magnetized check” in the PS-One days. And I’ve played a bunch of games so far, but I’m still not completely convinced the poke check works.

When I play 2K7, I can give an honest comparison, but this much I do know: no hockey game after this year can exist without a similar shooting mechanism to the Skill Stick. Obviously, the EA games need to improve defense and passing, but the sensation when everything feels right with the Skill Stick … it’s a beautiful thing.

The graphics are beautiful, the crowd effects and atmosphere raise plenty of goose bumps, the Skill Stick is sweet and everything else is pretty much a mess. I don’t think it’s worth a purchase, but I’ll certainly have my eyes on next year’s version.

Rating: C+

(I might share my predictions regarding a certain Pacific Division later this week...)


VeryProudofYa said...

I've got the PS2 version, and it's pretty swell. It took me one or two games to nail down the skill stick, but excellent once you get the hang of it.

I'd say the best part of the game, would have to be the feeling you get when you break in on a goalie and completely undress him before shoving it home.

Earl Sleek said...

I can pass like a motherfucker but I can't pokecheck with the R stick either.

On PS2 there's an L2 function that also does "pass/pokecheck"--that one works.

So I R-stick my passes and L2 my pokechecks.

(I might share my predictions regarding a certain Pacific Division later this week...)

I hope you're putting a lot of stock into preseason results.

Daniel said...

I wrote about this as well a few days ago, but mine was for the PC version. Maybe I am doing something wrong though, because I can't get any breakaways...Carney must have done some power skating in the off-season because he always catches up to McDonald...

jamestobrien said...

From what I've read, all non-360 versions have a "compromised" version of the Skill Stick and didn't receive nearly as much attention...