So far, NHL 2K7's graphics look 360-worthy. We especially like seeing the snow dynamically build up on the ice as skaters make fast turns and stops. The reflections, lighting and atmosphere all help create a realistic experience, and completely new player animations add smoothness to the game. The transition from skating at full speed in one direction to turning 180 degrees and skating in the other direction is already seamless. Also, the players feel heavier - no more unrealistic turns or floating around like frozen fairies. The gravity of the skaters doesn't slow things down, but it does add more realism and makes those big hits even more satisfying. The only thing that bothered us was that the faces didn't look refined; the generic coach pumping up the players in the locker room had eyes akin to a Dead Rising zombie.

Crease Control, Pro Player Control, and On-the-fly Coaching all return, joined now by a new option, Pressure Control. Using the left bumper and right analog stick, you can select an opposing player and instruct your teammates to apply varying levels of attention. As you up the pressure, more of your teammates will start checking him. Of course, take it too far and you risk putting someone in the sin bin. Drop passes are now "officially" supported; you could pull them off before, but now the AI is ready to react and scoop them up. And for those who are new to the game, a "Hit the Ice" section features tutorials for all of these features, as well as a Free Skate mode that gives you a chance to practice them however you want.


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