TOKYO--European and American journalists were the recipients of some Japanese hospitality Friday evening courtesy of Sony, which held a press gathering at Sony headquarters in downtown Tokyo after the first day of the Tokyo Game Show. During the evening's events, Sony executive vice president of SCEE Phil Harrison, after unveiling a number of new features of the PlayStation 3 operating system, had one more surprise up his sleeve: NBA 07 for the PS3.
The game, which was under wraps until the party began, is one of the many PS3 games that demonstrate the PS3's 1080p capability and it really is something else to look at. Everything from the shine on the hardwood to the accurately rendered player models has a pristine look to it and the whole floor looks vibrant and alive with hoops action. If you aren't playing NBA 07 in HD, it seems, then you won't really be playing the game, as this is how it was meant to be seen.
Of course, not everything was perfect. Animations, particularly passing and stealing, looked off here and there, and the defensive artificial intelligence had a tendency to immediately and instantly change direction, "school of fish" style, during quick changes in possession; but these are issues that the developer probably still has some time to iron out. One thing that we certainly liked was the inclusion of the color-coded shot system, which remains one of the best features in the series. Whenever you take a shot on the court, a meter shows up above your player--if you let go of the shoot button when the meter is green, you've got a great shot at draining the basket--let it go when it's red or yellow, and you're shooting percentage just went down a few percentile points.
In terms of gameplay, NBA 07 shouldn't be confused with the story-intensive version found on the PlayStation 2 or the PlayStation Portable game, with its focus on minigames. Instead, the PS3 version of NBA 07 seems to be its own beast, with a number of straight-ahead game modes--such as quick game, minigames, and league--along with a few wrinkles that sound exciting.
One of those wrinkles includes NBA Replay mode, which sounds like a lot of fun. Everyone remembers when NBA 07 cover athlete Kobe Bryant went insane last season and dropped 81 on the poor Toronto Raptors. Now, in NBA Replay mode, you'll be able to try and do the very same thing, along with attempting a number of other game scenarios that will challenge not only your shot-making ability, but your overall skills on the court. You'll be scored for how well you perform against the scenario, and the high scores will be posted online via the PS3 network support.
Where NBA Replay mode will surely shine is once the season is under way. Then, Sony plans on taking scenarios from each week of the real NBA Season and translating them into five or six new replay challenges per week, which you can download and try out for yourself. Personally, we can't wait for the "Darko Milicic Drops 50 on Detroit Purely Out of Spite" challenge.
NBA 07 for the PS3 still has a few more weeks left in development, and producers told us they are still nailing down online details at the moment. We do know that the game will support online play in both one-on-one matchups as well as the minigames, but that's as far as we know at this point. We hope to see more of the game in the coming weeks leading up to the launch of the PlayStation 3 in November.