The crazy Eskimo (sorry, Inuit) that saw a frozen shit laying around and thought by himself: “I bet I can get it between those two ice pads with my stick” should get a statue as since then mankind has gotten an additional hip sport. A sport that according to EA gets associated with young angry urban punk rock as from the very early start the electric guitars and high voices scream out of your speakers. Eat your heart out, Zornik. Quick, hard and most of all loud. That are the keys in NHL 2007 in which you get to “check” your opponent against the glass wall or on the ice, or even start a fight with him to get that puck past the local Jason Voorhees clone.
Qua gameplay things are quite alright; despite the limited controls you can let your team do a lot more than just passing, shooting and intercepting. With the R1-button you have an arsenal (4 that is) of trick moves at your disposal which will make you shoot puck after puck in the nets. And that’s a bit of a downer as it wouldn’t have hurt to have things a bit more difficult. Except the fact that the overall AI tends to fall through here and there which results in you not being able to finish your tactics and strategies in any way, you can keep doing the same thing over and over again and gather points that way.
While things go pretty quick and even hactic during matches, the boredom strikes in the main and management menus (in Dynasty mode). After quite long loading times the whole interface reacts extremely slow (which can also said from the controls in-game) and the UMD needs to make overtime for even the smallest amount of information. The medium of the future, right?
As manager in Dynasty mode you get a certain number of tasks like winning as many matches as possible which makes confidence in your person rise. This also means more stars which result in being able to buy upgrades. This means a better team and more matches that can be won.
Well, NHL 07 is one of those games that’s worth the wait as despite a bit of aliasing and a reasonable anorectic audience, the game does look ok compared with other sports games and there are no problems with the framerate during play. (animations like getting the Standley cup or players that enter the field for an important game do have some problems and the players seem to do anatomically impossible things). But where everything seems to go pretty good on graphics, the sound does let you down. That the disk space of an UMD doesn’t allow endless amounts of different combinations of commentary is something you notice after five minutes, but that this commentary comes way too late and is seriously outdated is a bit over the top. It will be more than once that you hear the commentary say “he scores, (loading time) and that puts his time with two in the lead”, almost imitating a Mexican soccer commentator, while you’re already back in offense to make the third goal.
Sports games get their replay value for a large part from the multiplayer and NHL isn’t an exception to that. Next to a well-built single player part you can hockey ad hoc or through infrastructure, but prepare for occasional heavy lag. NHL 2007 is a decent game that doesn’t only focus on the playing but with the Dynasty mode also carries a good management sim. Still, although you can request a lot of player stats, the in-game menu itself is very limited and during play you’ll get hardly any information on the progress of the match. Also there’s only music while going through the menu structure, during actual play you’ll have to suffice with the commentary.
I remain with mixed feelings. Compared to other games on PSP it’s worth an average score but EA does drop the ball here and there which doesn’t take away the fact that this game did spend quite some time inside my PSP