Every year EA Sports cranks out another iteration of its popular hockey franchise, invoking warm and fuzzy feelings from its loyal fanbase. Not content with resting on their laurels, the team behind NHL 2007 is bringing some innovative changes that will surely shake up the gameplay. The NHL series makes its debut on the Xbox 360, as well as returning to the current generation of consoles. No matter what system you choose, EA is sure to have something special for all the hockey nuts out there.
The most glaring change that gamers will recognize is the new “Skill Stick” system. With this new gameplay element, EA is attempting to fundamentally change the way we play hockey games. Previous games have mapped all gameplay functions to the face buttons on the controller. This year, EA is switching to an analog based shot system. The biscuit will be controlled with the right analog stick, while movement will be handled by the left stick. If EA can nail the controls, NHL 2007 should revolutionize the way gamers control the puck. Instead of pounding on buttons, players will realistically control the puck with the analog sticks. Hopefully, these new controls will make the player feel like he or she has total control over the puck.
EA is going back to basics when it comes to the presentation in NHL 2007. The idea is to create a more realistic hockey experience by eliminating the HUD and other on screen indicators. The result is a game that is more akin to a live TV broadcast than a video game. The only visible icon on screen indicates the player you are controlling, helping to immerse you deeper into the game. Player models, environments, and animations are all receiving facelifts, especially in the Xbox 360 version.
The changes EA is making to its flagship hockey franchise should definitely excite any hockey fan out there. The goal is to immerse the player like never before by removing button mashing and on screen displays. The “Skill Stick” system has the potential to reinvent the way we control the virtual puck with its natural style of handling and movement. Hockey fans, rejoice! A new season is on its way, and it promises to be unlike any hockey game you’ve played before.