Preview By: Jared Black
|Developer:||SCEA San Diego|
|# Of Players:||1-4|
|Accessories:||PlayStation Network (Download new scenarios)|
Sony’s history as a publisher of sports titles is a spotty one at best, in particular with its own 989 Studios generally delivering inferior offerings compared to the competition (save for a nice run for the Gameday franchise on the PSOne) on a year-by-year basis. It’s the dawning of a new day however, and with a new generation of hardware comes a renewed effort by Sony to compete on the hardwood. Will next-gen exclusivity be enough for NBA ’07 to topple 2K Sports’ NBA 2K7 and EA’s NBA Live 07 this holiday season?
Even with the launch being less than two weeks away at the time of this writing, we still don’t know an awful lot about NBA ’07. Usually that’s a bad sign, but what we do know sounds promising. The biggest bullet point is that Sony claims that NBA ’07 will be the first sports game ever to run in 1080p at a full 60 frames per second. While we all know that graphics don’t matter as much as gameplay, admittedly that’s a pretty good claim to be able to make. After all, what sports gamer with a nice HDTV could resist that?
Aside from the resolution and frame rate, Sony is also promising realistic player animation (who isn’t?) and the most realistic presentation of the NBA yet. They’re taking this realistic presentation to an almost absurd level of detail, with an actual sweat engine that’s hopefully more than just a marketing tool, and having one of the Cell’s SPUs devoted solely to rendering uniforms as realistically as possible. Overall, NBA ’07 will almost assuredly be the best-looking sports title on the system this year.
Aside from the eye candy, the game’s various gameplay modes sound pretty promising as well. NBA Replay mode will allow players to re-enact memorable performances from last year’s NBA season, including Kobe’s 81 points game, Nash’s 22 assists, etc. Extending that functionality online, the game will also allow players to download five new scenarios every single week from real NBA games that take place during the 06-07 season. So if Kobe ups the ante and drops 100 on the hapless Bobcats, you’ll most likely be able to attempt to duplicate that feat in a mere matter of days. These scenarios won’t just be typical “score more than the other guy” types either, as you’ll have to accomplish specific goals like shutting down an opponent’s point guard.
There are also a variety of other mini-games, including “Own the Court”, 3-Point Shootout, and the PlayStation Skills Challenge. Sadly, the PS2’s career mode “The Life Vol. 2” didn’t make the cut, and in fact Sony still hasn’t talked about the game’s career/season mode at all to my knowledge. So it’s probably a safe bet that whatever is included won’t be nearly as deep as what the competition has. What did make it over from the PS2 version though is the Power Boarding System, which indicates where to grab a rebound, and the Open Shot Indicator showing where your open man is at all times.
Naturally, being a first-party title the game will also make use of the Sixaxis’ motion sensing technology, allowing players to perform jukes, crossovers, spin moves, and low-post moves all by moving the controller. Pushing the controller forward will create space for your player, while swaying the controller from one side to the other will execute crossover dribbles and spins.
Aside from most likely looking the best out of all three basketball titles hitting the PS3 this year, NBA ’07 sports some features that could make it a surprise hit at launch. However, while NBA Replay mode is definitely promising (especially if the downloadable NBA Replay scenarios prove satisfying), on the whole the game seems to lack the depth of its competitors. As a result, I’d wait and see how each title fares review-wise before making my next-gen b-ball purchase.
Posted: 2006-11-07 21:13:07 PST