NBA '07 Review
Sports games have become more and more realistic in recent years, but NBA 07 bucks that trend and takes a different approach. Not only does the gameplay on the court share more in common with arcade style basketball games of the past than today’s other NBA games, it’s almost secondary to the game’s other modes. If you’re looking for a top-notch NBA simulation then you’re better off looking elsewhere. If you’re looking for something a little different however, you may just find it here.
First let’s take a look at the on-court action. I know that I just told you that it’s not the primary focus of the game, but seriously, who’s going to buy an NBA game and not hit the court for some league action? Anyway, back to the gameplay. NBA 07 makes use of a color-coded shot indicator. The goal is to hold down the shot button until the indicator goes from red to green but before it goes back again. The timing is pretty forgiving when you have a good player close to the hoop, but it can be tricky when shooting from downtown with a perennial bench warmer. This is the way it should be and it works well for adding a timing element to the shots without throwing off the percentages. In practice, though, you won’t be using the shot button nearly as much as you will be making use of the layup/dunk button.
The game allows you to do various crossover dribbles and juke moves using the analog sticks and this system works pretty well. Works too well actually. When you take into consideration the fact that the computer is a master shot blocker and steals passes with amazing regularity, it is just plain easier to juke around until you can get close enough to the basket to dunk. The game becomes an exercise in keeping passes to a minimum and driving to the hoop. On defense there’s not a lot you can do since it is very difficult to steal the ball of off a dribble or a pass, so you’ll just try to keep a man between the basket and the ball and time your jump right to block the shot. Needless to say, the games are pretty high scoring affairs. I told you that this was arcade basketball. The game does add one innovative touch in that an indicator appears to show you where to go to fight for a rebound. In theory this sounds like it would add a bit more realism to the game since real players usually have a pretty good feel for how a ball will bounce of off the basket. In practice it really just serves to take the drama out of outside shots. If you see the rebound indicator than you know that the shot has already been destined to miss before it even reaches the hoop.
NBA 07 comes with exhibition, playoff, and season modes, but there’s not a full-featured franchise mode that has become the de facto centerpiece of sports games in recent years. The season mode just lets you play through the 2006-2007 NBA season and the GM aspect is pretty much limited to trading players. Still it does probably have the easiest “pick up and play with a friend” aspect among this year’s crop of NBA games.