NHL ‘07 (Various Platforms) [Electronic Arts - $29.99-$54.99]
The arrival of “next-gen” systems always means major overhauls for the sports games we’ve come to know and love. Sure, all the love these days goes to the Madden franchise, but even since the days of the Sega Genesis, hockey’s been the sport that translates best to video gaming, and this year is no exception. This is the year hockey went the Smash TV route, with almost all the control in the XBox 360 version of the game handled by the two analog sticks rather than the buttons: the left stick controls the player’s feet, and the right stick controls the hockey stick. It sounds so simple, but it’s a revolutionary move, and it’s enough to make you want to invite over that dude that beat the hell out of you in NHL ‘95 12 years ago to give him the what-for in the new version. Plus, NHL ‘07 has been transformed into a budget title for the gasping-for-breath current-gen systems, making it the perfect gift for those budget-conscious buyers.