NHL 07 Review
NHL 07 box art
System: PSP Review Rating Legend
Dev: EA Canada 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: EA 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Sept 2006 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 - 4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
Review by Colin 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
It’s hard to believe that a game with a generic sounding name such as NHL 07 could be so darn unique.
by Colin Thames

Perhaps NHL 07 isn’t all that unique since it’s so closely resembles the PS2 version – but that should be a good thing, right? Yes, you’re right. It’s a very good thing. NHL 07 for the PSP is a slightly watered down version of its bigger sibling’s hockey game but that’s only to be expected due to its limited processing power. But what the PSP manages to capture is the fun and ultimate playability of the next-gen console version. Comparisons are inevitable but there can be no question that this is the best portable hockey game available for any handheld unit.

NHL 07 screenshot

NHL 07 is not a perfect game but it delivers the goods where it counts. The physics is great, the shooting is accurate for the most part, the controls are responsive, the game is fast-paced, the AI is a convincingly fair opponent and the graphics are clean. On the downside, there are some instances when shooting, such as when skating backwards, where the accuracy is out the window. Some stock animations kill the real-time feel especially during body checks. The commentary is repetitive, and the online mode can at times be virtually unplayable due to latency.

Control of the puck is good. When you have the puck in your possession you can fake out your opponents by alternately pressing on the left and right buttons. This seems to be more effective than just pressing the triangle button, (which accesses a stock deke animation) especially when trying to fake out the goalie. The nub will take some getting used to but it does work smoothly, offering a variety of control options. There are nine different areas that you can target on the opponent’s net. You have to make sure that you’re in the right position to make the shot otherwise it won’t be very accurate. It did take me a couple of hours to feel comfortable with the shooting system but now I’ve got the feel down. You can only develop this feel with practice.

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Thanks to the good puck physics you can bank angles much like you would on a pool table or air hockey game. You can rebound the puck off the corners and deflect them off other players. It gives you more scoring options. But despite the arcade-style of gameplay, there are some very realistic elements that contribute to making this feel like you are playing a real hockey game. Overall there is a tremendous sense of speed to the game which does not seem unrealistic. Pressing the sprint button causes the player to put it overdrive, but it comes at the cost of handling the puck. The faster that you go, the more difficult it is to maneuver and remain in control of the puck. You’ll find yourself more vulnerable to having the puck stolen at higher speeds. You will also find that your shooting accuracy decreases as you skate backwards or shoot backhanded. One-timed shots are also downplayed and don’t make up a significant portion of the scoring strategy. You will find that one-timing requires you to be set up almost perfectly in terms of passes and position relative to the net. It’s too fussy of a system to rely on for consistent goals but as in real NHL games, it’s a rare treat when all the planets align to facilitate it.

NHL 07 screenshot

The AI plays a realistic game. They are not overly aggressive but tend to play somewhat conservatively with their offense. They are not entirely predictable however, they do play a good passing game and can really put the pressure on by occasionally skating circles around your team. When you’ve had enough of this, it’s clobbering time. You can body check, poke check, side check, dive and hook. All of the controls are managed by the face buttons. Some of the checks will just temporarily stun the opponent. You’ll have to work harder than just pressing a button in order to steal the puck from these guys, but at least it’s a great outlet for your frustrations.

A passing game looks easy for the AI, but it’s not the best way for you to play. It just doesn’t flow. Your teammates never seem to be in the best position making it a risky proposition to relinquish control of the puck.

NHL 07 screenshot

The Dynasty mode is included and is basically identical to the PS2 version. It allows you to play as any NHL team as well as some European teams including the Czechs. In this mode you will have plenty of options including signing, trading and drafting players. You will also be able to select players with different attributes to join a line in hopes that their chemistry meshes. You will obviously want to choose players with different attributes for different positions so that the entire team will play as one multi-faceted hockey organism. Just like the Habs used to be before you were born. Ask your grandfather about them. Using the connectivity between the PSP and PS2 you can trade Dynasty data from either system. That means you can take everything in your PS2 Dynasty and play it on the bus – or while waiting in the principal’s office to catch hell for playing your PSP during school time.

The online mode just doesn’t work well. Sometimes it crashes before you even get to play and when it doesn’t crash there is some terrible lag (delays) between command and execution. Considering that there are plenty of other good, playable modes such as Dynasty, World Tournament, Season, Free-For-All, Shoot-Out, and local multiplayer modes, you shouldn’t be too disappointed with the crappy online mode.

NHL 07 screenshot

The crowd cheers in all the right places and the sound effects, although subtle, are realistic enough. The commentary is repeated too often and should just be turned off. There is no music during the actual game but there are tunes leading up to face offs, during penalties, offsides and when accessing the various menus. Graphically it’s a clean looking game, but if you read between the lines that could also mean void of detail, which in this case is exactly what that means. The players are a little stiff but they do control well.

Hockey season is off to a great start with NHL 07 for the PSP. For far less than the price of a ticket for an actual NHL game, you can have twenty times as much fun with this purchase.

Features:

  • Join the Revolution—Experience a realistic sense of team control on the ice. Command every movement and make precise passes with controlled velocity and accuracy.
  • Realistic Player-Specific Models—NHL 07 players act like their real-life counterparts with six different player types, including Danglers, Playmakers, Snipers, Power Forwards, Offensive Defensemen, and Defensive Defensemen.
  • Live the Life of a GM—Build team chemistry, sign and trade players, and negotiate contracts under the new salary cap to meet an owner’s expectations. Earn trust points with every positive move then purchase upgrades for the team.
  • Elite League Expansion—European Elite Leagues return with the addition of the Czech Elite League and an all-new Elite League Dynasty Mode that clearly distinguishes the differences between European and NHL hockey.
  • Rule the Hockey World—Online or across the room, turn your closest friends into rivals with head-to-head Multiplayer Wi-Fi games.
  • PSP to PS2 Connectivity—Transfer your Season or Dynasty mode files back and forth between your PSP system and your PlayStation 2.

    By Colin Thames
    CCC Freelance Writer

    Rating out of 5
    Rating Description

    4.2

    Graphics
    Good view of the ice although the camera angles can be distracting at times. Player look a little stiff.

    4.7

    Control
    Once you get the hang of the nub you'll enjoy the variety of control options which are intuitive and not overwhelming in their diversity.

    3.2

    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    The announcing is terrible. Turn it off. Otherwise, turn it up.

    4.0

    Play Value
    Tons of modes to keep you busy. Don't even bother with the online mode, it's broken.

    3.8

    Overall Rating - Good
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
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