NBA 07 Review
NBA 07 on the PlayStation 3 doesn't have the fun story mode that the PlayStation 2 version has, but it does have most of that version's flaws, and some new ones.
- Multicolored shot meter works well
- NBA replay is fun for a short while.
- The Life story mode is nowhere to be found
- No announcers
- Unimpressive graphics
- Poor artificial intelligence and buggy gameplay
- $20 more than the superior PS2 version.
For a number of years now, Sony's first-party basketball games haven't been very good. In fact, SCEA recently benched the series for a season in an effort to right the ship. It didn't help much, though the hiatus did spawn one interesting feature in NBA 06--a story mode that followed the on- and off-court life of a rookie NBA player. The Life was further refined in NBA 07 on the PlayStation 2 and was easily the most enjoyable aspect of an otherwise unremarkable game. Unfortunately, The Life didn't make it into NBA 07 on the PlayStation 3, and the game suffers for it, because there's nothing to hide the shallow season options and flawed gameplay.
Most of NBA 07's game modes aren't particularly deep, but there are a handful of ways to keep yourself occupied. You can play a single game or season, or jump straight to the playoffs. The season mode is shallow and encompasses only the 2006-07 NBA season--there's no multiyear franchise option. You can trade players without having to worry about the salary cap, but general managers are a little smarter than they were on the PS2, so you can't do something like trade P.J. Brown for Dirk Nowitzki anymore. It was a little easier to swallow the lack of a franchise mode in the PlayStation 2 version of the game because of how much depth The Life offered. Here, there are no such distractions, and the omission of a multiyear play mode reeks of the game being rushed out the door. NBA 07 does have a bunch of minigames, most of which are enjoyable for a short time. From the NBA's all-star weekend, the three-point shootout is playable, as is the skills challenge, where your dribbling, shooting, and passing skills are put to the test. There's no dunk contest, which is curious, since it's in the PlayStation Portable version of the game. You can take on the computer or three other players in own the court, where you try to hit jumpers to take control of circles of varying point values that are spread around the court. None of the handy drills from the PlayStation 2 version of the game are here, which is a shame because they were really helpful in teaching some of the finer points of the controls.
While The Life has been stripped from the game, at least one concept made it over, albeit in slightly modified form. NBA replay has 50 of the best individual performances from the 2005-2006 NBA season. There are two challenges each week, and you unlock the next week by accomplishing all of the goals that go along with each challenge. After selecting a challenge you're given a list of objectives that must be met, plus another list of optional goals. One of the first challenges gives you just under three minutes to score eight points with Kobe Bryant, with the caveat that none of those points can come from three-pointers and you've got to win by two. Sometimes you'll need to dish out assists or limit the performance of opposing teams and players. Games of the week mode is a modified version of NBA replay that features the five most impressive performances for each week of the current NBA season. After beating each of a particular week's challenges, you can upload your scores to a global online leaderboard. For some reason there are no online leaderboards for the basic NBA replay mode, which makes trying to accomplish the additional "extra mile" tasks rather pointless.
The replay mode is fun in small doses, but there are a number of issues that limit its attractiveness. For starters, the difficulty is all over the place--it starts off easy, then it gets hard, and then gets easy again; it's very uneven. There's also not a whole lot of variety to the game scenarios. They mostly revolve around individual statistics, particularly scoring and dishing out assists. Occasionally, you'll need to maintain a lead or hold opposing players to a certain point total, but you're rarely rewarded for steals, rebounds, or blocked shots. It's also a pain to check your goals and how close you are to achieving them. A message will appear onscreen when you've accomplished a goal, but once you've started a game the only way to find out what you have left to do is to pause the game.
On the court, NBA 07 gets a few things right, but they're overshadowed by the things it does poorly. The timing-based shot meter that uses red, yellow, and green to show how well you timed your shot is helpful and works fine. A marker that shows where a rebound is headed is supposed to make it easier to hit the boards, but the ball just ends up magically appearing in a player's hands, so it's not very useful. Because it only appears for missed shots and it appears as soon as the ball is shot, you know as soon as the ball leaves your hands whether the shot's good or not. This takes quite a bit of suspense out of the game. You can perform jukes, crossovers, and spins via the right analog stick, and this system works quite well. Alley-oops can be thrown by pressing R2 to send a player toward the hoop and then X (or triangle for a no-look) to pass. When it works, this method feels great, but too often it's hard to tell which player is going to make a run, and by the time you figure it out, the pass is too late. One aspect that the developer did nail is the post game. You can start backing a player down with L1 and then flick the right analog stick when it's time to make your move. This control scheme is easy to learn, yet still allows you a lot of freedom. Playing defense primarily is a largely futile endeavor that involves frantically trying to keep the defender in front of the ball handler and then pounding the triangle button to block the shot. But even your best won't prevent the game from quickly becoming a dunkfest.
NBA 07 uses the Sixaxis' tilt-control to let you perform spins, jukes, and crossovers. There are no tilt-control moves on defense. Rotating the controller clockwise causes your player to spin left, while rotating it counterclockwise makes them spin right. Moving the controller left or right performs a crossover in the corresponding direction, and juke moves are done by pushing the controller forward or pulling it back. Spin moves feel pretty natural and are easy to do, but crossovers and jukes require a lot of force to perform, and the game frequently fails to respond to the movement of the controller. Because it's so much easier to get to the rim by chaining together moves with the right analog stick, there's no reason to use the tilt-control functionality once the novelty of being able to control a player onscreen by spinning the controller wears off.