NHL 07

Two years. EA Canada spent two whole years locked away in an undisclosed ice fishing shanty, drinking beer and dreaming up the next generation in the NHL franchise. Hockey fans are getting a little tired of the waiting game, but after this year's crazy playoff season, our pitchforks and torches have been hushed momentarily. EA's Summer Showcase brought a little cool to the hot days of July in the form of a very playable NHL 07. From what we witnessed, we may need to relocate our rusty skates.

Innovating the entire control scheme fronts the "wow" factor for 07. Those wacky Canadians did away with the whole button thing. For the next generation of hockey, the thumbs will be shakin' and bakin'. With the left stick, you control the lower half of your player on the ice. With the right, you now control the top half of your skater. It takes some getting used to, but if you've ever played hockey, or watched enough to feel the flow; then you'll soon appreciate how brilliant and akin the new controls are to the actual sport.

No longer will gamers be stuck in the confines of scripted hockey hell. You can pull the puck back, stretch out, find the angle, and then rip one by pushing forward. Slappers work a la Tiger Woods; pulling the stick back, then bashing it forward. Pass with the trigger button. For the first time, controlling a skater feels as if the face buttons have disappeared. Hockey players designing a hockey game seems to be working out.