Making its debut on the Xbox 360 this year, EA's NHL franchise finally got off the schneid and delivered a hockey experience that not only compared very favorably to the competition but also forced you to rethink how you play offense in a hockey game, thanks to the brand-new right analog stick-based skill stick. Unfortunately, the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PC versions of NHL 07 weren't quite so lucky. Innovation and updates are few in these latest iterations of the franchise, probably due in no small part to EA's focus on the 360 version. For those without the benefit of an Xbox 360, these other versions of NHL 07 do manage to provide reasonably updated rosters and a couple of tweaks here and there, but if you want more than that, you'll be disappointed.
To be fair, the older console and PC versions of NHL 07 do include a version of the skill stick, but it's not a very impressive one. Rather than shooting and dekeing, the stick controls passing: moving it side to side passes normally to nearby teammates, pressing forward throws a saucer pass, and pressing backward does a quick drop pass. Mechanically, it's sound enough, but it feels like a tacked-on change. There's nothing special or unique about the way the stick handles the passes, so you're left with a new control scheme that's been changed for the sake of having a new control scheme. It doesn't improve the flow of the game or the offense to any real effect. It also bears mention that if you have the PC version of the game, make sure you've got a good dual analog control stick, otherwise you won't see the benefit of this mechanic at all.
Of course, that's not to say the game still isn't quite a bit of fun. Though it's an overly speedy and periodically unrealistic game of hockey, the pace of the action makes for some crazy plays and hard hits that are highly enjoyable to watch. The only problem is that it's much the same brand of crazy hockey that it's been for the last few years. Defense doesn't play any better, goalies still make some boneheaded moves, and the offensive game feels relatively unchanged. Sure, there's that newfangled skill stick, and a greater emphasis on role-playing makes players of certain categories (snipers, power forwards, grinders, and the like) play their roles a touch more stringently, but again, it really doesn't change the feel of the game from what it's basically been since NHL 2005.
Every mode that was in NHL 06 is in NHL 07, and there are a couple of small additions to boot. The Czech Elite league has been added to the ever-growing list of European leagues available in the game, and now there's even a European dynasty mode to take part in. Granted, about nine people in the North American market probably care about that, but hey, it's there if you're into it. As far as the typical NHL dynasty mode goes, you're looking at a carbon copy of NHL 06's dynasty mode, which in turn was a copy of NHL 2005's dynasty mode. Owner goals still annoyingly charge you with tasks varying from winning the Stanley Cup (do we really need to be told to do that?) to getting the first overall draft pick in the following draft (bad teams ask you to do this, and it's not as easy as it sounds). There's also a slightly different twist to the owner feature, with the new trust system. Owner trust is now what affords you upgrade points for your dynasty, rather than cash, and what type of GM you pick (they range from boastful types to penny-pinchers to somewhere in the middle) directly affects how your trust is gained and lost throughout a season. It's a slightly more interesting risk-versus-reward take on the mode, but it doesn't fundamentally change the lame nature of the owner-goals system and ultimately makes getting upgrades a bit more of a pain.
One other notable addition to the dynasty mode is the proper salary cap, though it comes without the benefit of the 360 version's realistic minor league contract management and waiver system. You don't get the option to sign players to one- or two-way deals, so you can send whoever you need to the minors without any consequence of that player being plucked off waivers.