i bought this the day it was released. i've purchased the nhl 2k games for the past 5 years or so, and i'd say this is the best version so far. i bought the ea hockey game this year about a month ago, i thought it was awful. nhl 07 is a lot more of an arcade style than simulation. when i play sports games, i want simulations. nhl 2k7 has once again made the best hockey game.
the graphics aren't the best, but they are still good. if you liked the graphics of the game last year, you'll like them this year. if you hated them last year, you'll hate them this year. there is pretty much no difference in graphics this year. i'd say about 20-25 percent of the league's players are represented really well, the rest are hit or miss. superstars look like their real-life counterparts, and that's all that really matters to me. i don't care if the faces of average players aren't dead-on. also, the characters aren't cartoonish looking like in ea's nhl 07. on top of that, the animations in this year's 2k hockey are fantastic. the movements are very lifelike, and some of the goalie saves are incredible.
the sound is really good. the commentary is much better than ea's hockey game. if you're a fan of the ea announcers, then you might think 2k7's are boring. however, i prefer announcers who don't sound like they should be talking for a monster truck rally. the announcing is how you would hear it on tv, and that's what i like. the crowd sounds great with team-specific chants, and the sound effects are perfect.
the presentation is very well done. cutscenes are great, and the replays are phenomenal. instead of getting one replay of a goal like in nhl 07, 2k7 will show a replay from 3 or 4 different angles as the announcers comment specifically on how the goal was scored. if the puck went off the goalie's glove and into the goal, they'll talk about that at the same time the replay is being shown. also, cutscenes will tell stats of players while the announcers talk about them, and replays are shown of important parts of the game that may have happened 10 minutes earlier. the presentation is once again very similar to a television broadcast. i can't say enough about how the presentation of 2k7 kills nhl 07's.
finally, the most important aspect, gameplay. i hated ea's nhl 07's gameplay. the deke button was awful, there was virtually no defense, and it was way too easy to score (even on the highest difficulty with the shot sliders turned all the way down). 2k7 is the opposite of all the ea negatives. to deke, you use the right joystick and push it in the direction you want to deke. the defenses for both teams will set up to play whatever attack the offense has chosen. there aren't many breakaways in 2k7 like in nhl 07. games are much lower scoring than ea's offering. with 10 minute periods, the average goals scored in a game is about 5 or 6 (between both teams).
in conclusion, ea has a hockey game that is an arcade style, more fun for a party atmosphere. nhl 2k7 is a simulation of the sport and much more accurate as to how the game is played. if you prefer an arcade style game with cartoonish looking characters and average presentation, go for ea's nhl 07. but, if you want a simulation with phenomenal presentation and realistic looking characters/animations, pick up nhl 2k7. oh yeah, 2k7 is only $20.
overall rating (for the ps2):
nhl 07- 4/10
nhl 2k7- 9/10