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NHL 07

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Warm up your thumbs, hockey fans - EA Sports' NHL 07 is just under a month away from release. EA skipped a 360 version of their frozen franchise last year while the world of hockey was in turmoil, but the company is ready to make it up to you.

EA's new presentation is super sleek. Anything extraneous was trimmed, giving it even more of that ESPN... um, OLN broadcast feel. The only downside is that your selected player is marked with a little triangle, and that's it, which means that you better know who your players are. Each player has a specific strength, so if you spend the whole game fighting along the boards with your snipers and shooting with defensive defensemen, you're going to have some problems.

The game isn't quite complete, but you'd never know it from the graphics. The dynamic skate marks on the ice, reflections in the glass and a gaggle of jersey-clad cheering fans are all superbly rendered, looking especially nice in high definition. The animations, especially for the goalies, look much more natural than they previously did. The goalies move like, well, goalies, but that's because they have to be able to stop that unpredictable piece of frozen rubber - and with improved puck physics, it can be very unpredictable. Slap one at the goalie hard enough and it just might trickle between his legs, or bounce off a pad, hit the cross bar and fall over the line. There's an infinite number of ways to light that red lamp, and you won't feel ripped off by scripted saves.

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