Video game reviews, NHL 2K7, EA NHL 07 and NHL 94
A fan posted this short clip of highlights from NHL 2K7 cover athlete Joe Thornton set to Dozer's "Drawing Dead" (Note: link to 2KSports official clip here). For a higher video quality review, IGN associate editor Jon Miller took a look at the XBOX 360 version.
Miller notes the improved game play, a contender-like cinema score that varies with how your team is performing on the ice, an improved skating engine with excellent backwards skating, new game modes (pond hockey, mini-rink, sky box), new adaptive rivalry features, and an extensive list of online options including 30-man seasons, tournaments and fantasy drafts. IGN gave the XBOX 360 version of NHL 2K7 an 8.9. The full written IGN review is available here.
Jon Miller also hosted a video review of EA's NHL 07. He notes that the new EA skill stick will take about 10 games to get used to, that new puck physics will add variety to the game play, and that Dynasty mode allows the player complete control over every aspect of a hockey team. IGN was not impressed with EA's online offerings, ranked and unranked play, and gave EA NHL 07 an overall score of 8.7 out of ten. The full written IGN review is available here.
A complete list of all the NHL video games for all platforms is available here.
More along my style, Eric McErlain recently pointed to an online league at NHL94.com. They have ported the Sega Genesis and Nintendo versions of EA's NHL 94 title, and created 4 online divisions with over 80 players. Take a look. Signups are full for this season, but contact them to participate in the spring.
[Update] In a recent Washington Post article, David Betancourt tried to beat EA NHL07 cover athlete Alexander Ovechkin at his own game.
We agree on a best-of-three format. The first two games he will play as himself and the Capitals, and I will play with the Phoenix Coyotes. The third game will be for national pride as I'll play with the U.S. national team and Ovechkin will take the Russian national team.
"Why Phoenix?" he asks.
I explain that the Coyotes were the team he scored his famous behind-the-back, no-look goal on in January and that I want to see if he had any more magic against them. That gets a laugh.
[Update2] IGN traveled to the Sharks practice facility at the Logitech Ice Center in San Jose and mic'd up cover athlete Joe Thornton.
The results were a little unsuspected:
2K Sports wanted the authentic arena atmosphere. They wanted to capture the players as they truly are, what they say and do on the ice and put it in the game.
Only thing is, if they use the uncensored content from Wednesday's practice session in San Jose where the Sharks, including cover athlete Joe Thornton were mic'd, the game would have to be rated M.
I had the headphones on as Thornton spit on the ice, blew his nose, then talked to his coach. When his coach spoke it was F-this, F-that, get in the F'n zone and score a F'n goal (paraphrased for the weak of heart).
Mic'ing Thornton would be good, but capturing head coach and quote machine Ron Wilson should also have been a priority. IGN reports that Thornton is a gamer from the days of "making heads bleed" on a Sega Genesis, and that Pavel Bure and Alexander Moginly were two of his favorite cyber hockey players. Both are good choices, but Al Iafrate with his 100 strength slapshot and 0 accuracy still gets the nod. #77 Ray Bourque was also unstoppable.
2KSports producer Ben Bishop also had to dodge players at the practice who wanted to confront them about their in-game player ratings.
"We have one guy, Doug Murray, who is an up and down player, and he had to send one of our teammates down so he could get on the roster and play. He couldn't believe he was a 60. 'A 60! What are you doing to me?' He wanted to see if I could talk to the guys who make the game. Put in a good word. It was funny, he got a good kick out of it."
The first few training camps defenseman Doug Murray attended, you could not help but notice one player consistently flattening opponents each time he took the ice. The audible crunches made everyone at the practice rink take notice.
It is great to see in practice, but that does not always translate into the game. Murray's first few NHL games he would line up and paste someone every other shift. Opponents began to take notice, and skate with their head up when he was on the blueline. He has a case when he claims that his ranking is underrated.
[Update3] Old School.
[Update4] Setting up a public EA or 2K Sports NHL lan tournament would be a great promotion here in Silicon Valley. Internet cafe's are a dying breed, but Euphnet is one of the stalwarts who have remained in business with two locations in the South Bay (downtown San Jose, Sunnyvale). Setting up a PC version of NHL 07 would be possible with the number of on-site PC's, but an Xbox 360 tournament would require a number of consoles. Contact me (jon at sharkspage) if you work for one of the related companies and you are interested in setting up a tournament.
[Update5] Link via Puck Update, Jason Kottke (purveyor of fine hypertext products) discovers a few NHL 94 videos and the above mentioned NHL 94 online league.