October 25, 2006
Bouncing and Behaving
When I play video game basketball, I don't want to see a storyline any more than a viewer of adult movies wants to see story-based films. Basketball games really just need to get to the action, or I'm out. Such is the case with "NBA '07."
It's ambitious. It comes with all these little cinematic scenes of you, the star player, chatting with coaches and lounging around. But when you finally take the court, the basketball players look and move as rudimentary as they did in games many years ago.
This is too bad. "NBA '07" for PS 2 and PSP could have given stiff competition to the other main basketball games on the market. Instead, "NBA '07" plays poor, looks poor and is moderately easy. It's rated "E" (one star out of four).
As for the big dogs of the NBA games, things are looking both up and down. Should you buy a new basketball game? Or just stick with last year's copy? If you're poor, you'd be fine holding onto last year's NBA titles. If you have $40-$60, "NBA 2K7" does offer some improvements.
In fact, "NBA 2K7" is the prime basketball game of the season. "2K7" gives you exactly what you want, if you're looking for a substantial experience. It does not give you what you want, if you don't want to contend with realistic fouls and tough defenses.
Then again, if you prefer to beat opponents easier, you can always go into the game's "options" menu and tweak competitors to play as lightweights.
Generously, in addition to the standard I-want-to-play-now and season modes, "2K7" also comes with a few mildly entertaining side games.
An included street ball game is all right, but it's not the kind of flashy, kapow street game you're used to. It's essentially just NBA gaming on asphalt.
There's also a side game where you play ball to gain respect, so you can earn your way from obscurity to NBA challenger.
All this flash and depth offers good bang for the buck. It's available for Xbox 360, Xbox and PS 2. It plays fun, looks great, and it's challenging. Rated "E". (Three and one-half stars.)
"NBA Live '07" is the NBA title I thought I was preordained to prefer, because last year's model was a joy, fluid and fun. But this year's "NBA Live" is, while almost exactly the same, saddled with one big problem. The visuals are incredibly choppy.
When you dribble the ball, at times it looks as if you are watching a strobe of the action. Clearly, this is weird and more stylistic than graceful.
What a shame. If not for this artistic screw-up, "Live" could've been a classic, with its slick play and its online capabilities to feed you sports scores. It's available for Xbox 360, Xbox, PS 2 and PSP.
Alas, "NBA Live" plays merely kind of fun. It looks fantastic, except for the gigantic flaw. And it's a tad too easy. Rated "E". (Two and one-half stars.)