NBA '07 Review
NBA 07 provides basketball fans with a bit of a mixed blessing. On the one hand it packs in a ton of gameplay in a large number of modes giving you plenty of ways to enjoy NBA action on the go. On the other, when it comes down to it the actual basketball play in the game has some serious issues which put a major damper on things. This is a shame because if the game could have put up on the court, then it would easily be one of the best portable sports titles of the year.
NBA 07 starts off with a bang by including the coolest new gameplay mode to appear in a sports game since the invention of the franchise mode. Conquest divides the country into a network of interconnected cities, each of which just happens to be home to an NBA franchise. Each team is given the opportunity to move in turn and challenge another NBA team in one of the cities directly connected to its city. The challenge takes the form of a game of streetball between the two teams with a few twists thrown in. The first is that there is no direct scorekeeping. Instead each team is given a power meter that is filled according to the relative strength of the team’s players and when a team scores it causes the opponent’s meter to drain correspondingly. The game is played without fouls, instead penalizing you for your mistakes. If an opponent blocks a player’s shot, a player fails to defend a three point basket, or he throws the ball to a defender, then the player is dazed until his team can score again. Dazed players move significantly slower and take a hit to their stats. The game also throws a bone to the team that finds itself behind by creating temporary bonus circles. If the team can make a shot from the bonus circle they’ll put a bigger drain on their opponent’s meter. Now for the really cool part. If you win a game then you win your opponent’s team. You not only take over their city, but the players don your uniform and are under your control. You are then free to swap players between the teams under your control and to use them to go after other cities. There is also a penalty for losing a challenge that you initiated – the winning team can swap one of your players for one of theirs. There’s no need to tell you that the loser comes out on the short end of this forced trade. There’s a lot of strategy to this mode that makes it really engrossing. Picking your battles is crucial to your success, as is moving your players to the right cities. If you collect all the superstars in one place, then you leave yourself vulnerable to an attack on the city where you dumped all of your sub-par players. Spread your players evenly and you may not be able to stop a good team from running across your territory like Sherman in Georgia.
NBA 07 also comes with a host of mini-games including HORSE, dodgeball, and a streetball game in which you pick players just like on the playground. There are also arcade games like skeeball, pinball, and a mini-hoops game. Add to these the various skills competitions that are a part of the All-Star game like slam dunk and three point games and you get a ton of gameplay here. To be honest, none of these mini-games will monopolize your game time like Conquest mode will, but they’re all nice short diversions for gaming on the go. Of course the game has your standard basketball game modes, including exhibition and season modes. The season mode is pretty basic though, allowing you to follow a team through the 2006-2007 NBA schedule but there’s not much else to it outside of support for trades.