The 2K Team's last NHL entry on the 360 left us a little wanting. While NHL 2K6 introduced a snazzy new feature, Crease Control, the game didn't do much else to separate itself from its current-gen counterparts. NHL 2K7 steps back onto the ice after an intensive overhaul - it sports all-new animations and a host of new presentation and gameplay features. It's all great stuff in principle, but how does it all hold up on the ice?
There are hundreds of new animations - not only have old animations been replaced, but new transitional animations have been added to smooth out those quick turns and fast stops. The physics have been modified to more realistically simulate the skaters' momentum - no more spinning on a dime - it takes a moment to slow down and start moving in another direction. The more weighted players add a nice touch of realism, giving you more to think about when you try to turn into an opponent to deliver a big hip check.
Despite the new animations, the graphics still don't seem as good as they could be. Take, for example, the cheering fans; they all appear to have had their fingers chopped in half. But we can forgive the sideline shortcomings - during gameplay the new athlete animations look great, and an array of little graphical details, from the dynamic snow that builds up on the ice to the players' frosty breath, come together to complete the experience. It's only when the close-up cut scenes play that things feel lacking.