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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


NBA 07 (Sony for PSP)


By Michael Palisano

While the series still isn't on top of the heap, NBA 07 on the PSP shows some significant progress for Sony in the sports field. The game's improved engine and intuitive controls simplify the action to a large degree while an increased number of AI moves makes opponents less predictable. There's also a good number of online modes with wi-fi support, but the numerous mini-games and arcade bonus items definitely bring a unique feel to the package. It's not as fluid or realistic as some other games on the market but, NBA 07 is a solid and enjoyable basketball title.

Playing NBA 07 won't make you feel like you're a pro-basketball player, but the game offers some decent play-action that should please with an arcade-style feel. The game is fully licensed and offers all the pro-teams and players you'd expect it to, with recreations of the actual courts as well. You can select from one of several play for both single and multiplayer games. The standard game is decent with the usual single-game, season and franchise modes adding to the replay value, along with an innovative conquest mode. While it might seem like merely an elaborate version of the usual Franchise modes many games offer, the approach used in NBA 07 is a bit different. Conquest mode goes in a different direction and allows you to play through multiple games, complete different sections and add players to your roster, so you can dominate the league through multiple seasons. It's structure makes it feel more like a RTS game than an RPG. You won't be pushing statistics around in a balance sheet and instead can get your hands dirty on the court as well. As you play this mode, you can also earn credits and points that will allow you to unlock additional items such as extra jerseys, team colors and players. NBA 07's other modes offer a fairly standard game of basketball, with the action taking place on the court. The game's presentation is excellent this year, with a closer-in angle that puts you right on the court, making you feel like you're right in the center of the action. This enhanced presentation also extends to the player models, which show an increased level of detail and more varied animations than they did in last year's installment.

As far as basic mechanics go, NBA 07 hasn't changed materially from last year's installment and maintains a similar feel. Dribbling, running and jumping are fairly easy to perform using either the PSP's analog or digital controller. Like many recent sports games, you can give your player a quick burst of speed by pressing the right shift button, though this reduces their stamina a bit. The game's passing system is fairly intuitive, with players only needing to set up the icons to indicate with player to pass to. Most moves are fairly easy to perform, and trick moves can be used with the press of a single button. NBA 07's shooting system is also fairly simple, with players pressing and holding the shot button to shoot the ball. The icon around your player changes color, from yellow to orange to green, with the accuracy increasing the longer you hold it down. The game's free-throw system is also fairly easy to understand, and the game isn't too taxing in most modes. The gameplay unfolds at a fairly fast pace, allowing for quick comebacks from deficits and rallies that accurately mimic the feel of an NBA game, though only superficially.

Unfortunately, the game's AI isn't the greatest, and many of your opponents tend to become very predictable after awhile, making it easy to anticipate their moves and tactics in advance. The team rankings give you a general indication of the aggressiveness and skill of your opponents, but it doesn't make as much of a difference as you think it would. Another problem we faced with NBA 07 was the number of fouls called, which seemed excessive and somewhat unavoidable given the somewhat clumsy nature of the opponents you face. You can't control all the members of your team, but they don't seem to fall in line that well when you need them, which adds to the frustration to a large degree. Despite these problems, the simple controls and accessible controls make this an excellent game for beginner and novice players, as well as those looking for an arcade-style experience.

In addition to its standard game mode, NBA 07 includes a number of extra modes and mini-games that extend its replay value. The first few of these modes are fairly standard and include a shoot-out, 3 point contests, paint the court mode and one-on-one battles. In addition, the cool dodgeball mini-game from last year's NBA returns as well. There are also some other arcade-style contests called Carnival Games. These include a cool pinball game that's surprisingly addictive, cool variations of skee-ball and arcade shooting games and more. These are fun to play and the tickets you earn can be used to unlock additional items as well. In all, there are about ten of these cool mini-games included in the package, each one presents a unique challenge to master and are quite enjoyable in their own right. Their inclusion definitely helps the overall game feel more varied and interesting. In addition to these mini-games, NBA 07 also supports online play using the PSP's wi-fi adaptor with Infrastructure mode. Players can set up games in various lobbies and use different settings effortlessly, making for a fast-moving, intuitive experience overall.

NBA 07's presentation is fairly decent with excellent production values highlighted by excellent cut-scenes, close-ups and replays that give the game a solid televised look. A robust play-by-play commentary follows the action and adds excitement, while a Hip-hop soundtrack helps to set the mood. The game's camera system feels a bit limited, with only a few different angles available. However, the ones that are present are decent enough and effectively bring the action to life. It's overall feel and pacing are decent, with a robust recreation of the sport that succeeds in many areas. It does fall a little short in the gameplay with predictable AI, and average gameplay, but the game's accessible controls helps to mitigate these problems to a large degree. NBA 07's inclusion of mini-games and extras also helps to extend its longevity, adding a lot of value to the package with enjoyable bonus features that makes the game surprisingly fun. While the parts aren't all perfect, NBA 07 is a decent game because the total package offers a surprising amount of variety and entertainment. It's not the most polished or addictive professional basketball title on the market, but NBA 07 is still a fairly decent diversion that should please casual sports gamers.

Grade: C+

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