EA's NHL series is back for yet another year of hockey action. This was my first experience with a hockey title for the Xbox 360, and wow was I impressed. The graphic quality of the players, arenas and equipment is phenomenal. They've really enhanced the "reality" of the game compared to how it is played in real life. Puck movement is unpredictable, because it when it bounces off a goalie's arm, chest or leg, it can result in an incredible goal or a crazy rebound. With the new Stick Control, you literally control each and every puck movement and shot throughout the game. Dekes, skating and shots are all controlled with both the analog sticks. The new controls may take some getting used to, but if you want to you can always change back to "Classic" controls, which are simply the analog stick to move your player, a single button to pass, and a single button to shoot. But if you're in for more of a challenge, I would recommend the Stick Control. Depending on what direction you move your analog stick forward the puck may fly high over the crossbar, hit the post or score the game winning goal. Goalies are now much more realistic. Depending on their overall skill they may have quicker reactions than other goalies when diving for a rebounded puck, or when throwing out a limb to make a save. The Dynasty Mode in this game is what really makes it great. In this mode you're able to play through multiple seasons just like any other sports title, but more. Trades, Free Agency, Practices, and improving your facilities, minor league teams/coaches, etc. are what give this game the edge over other NHL titles, past and present.
Another strong point in NHL 07 is the sound effects. It gives you the feeling like you're there. The broadcaster voices, crowd cheering, and sounds of the bone rattling checks are spectacular. Not to mention taking your anger out on the other team with a strong uppercut to the face or low blow to the stomach while fighting. The realism of the game is so impressive that once while I was playing my Dynasty with my beloved Philadelphia Flyers, and played about two or three games, after playing the game they were playing a real game within a few minutes on TV. It felt as though I was still playing. Overall the game has many more ups than downs, but the one disappointment for me was that there is no "Tournament Mode" on Xbox Live. After experiencing one ranked online match, I found it to be very laggy and delayed. But online ability is not what I bought NHL 07 for. The single player modes and great replay value make NHL 07 one of the best sports titles to be released for the 360 in 2006.