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While EA kept a next-gen hockey game on the bench last year, NHL 2K6 owned the ice by default. This year, the 2K team has added a whole lot on top of last year's installment. We got our gloves on a copy to see how it's shaping up.
Following up last year's Crease Control system, the key 2007 innovation is Cinemotion, a blanket term used to describe 2K's new presentation style. No longer merely aping TV broadcasts, a new "parametric" camera dynamically follows the action down the ice, giving more of a cinematic feel to the game without hindering gameplay - we never had a problem seeing the rink or finding our players. We like the dynamic music that changes depending upon the intensity of the game, softening into the background during lulls then building to a crescendo when the action increases. And with the addition of player chatter, you'll overhear players, coaches, and even fans in the stands. And it's not just babble, so you'd better keep an ear tuned - an open player may call for a pass or tell you to shoot when you have an open lane.
Of course, NHL 2K7 has to respect tradition or alienate its audience. Players who like what they're used to can switch to the traditional broadcast style, with the 3/4 camera and play-by-play commentary. If you like to have things your way, you can mash things up to create whatever camera angle, music, and commentary combination you want. Custom soundtracks streaming from your 360 hard drive are an option too - it's all up to you.
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