Developer – SCE Studios San Diego
Publisher – Sony Computer Entertainment
Memory Stick Duo – 256 KB
Wi-Fi Compatible (Ad Hoc)(1-2 Players)
Wi-Fi Compatible (Infrastructure)(1-2 Players)
Having reviewed the other two NBA releases by Sony on the PSP, it only made sense that I was to review their newest one, NBA 07. I think for sanity sake the majority of what I want to do is focus on the newest additions to the gameplay. I will give some mention to what is the same from NBA 06 but I don't want to take give too much space for it. I hope all you readers out there don’t mind this approach to my review.
The visuals in NBA 07 are pretty good, even when compared to the PS2 version. The game runs at a rock solid framerate and never misses a beat. The on-court action runs pretty smooth and can actually be somewhat frantic at times as the speed of the game’s framerate is quite quick. For those who really love their NBA stars, don’t worry they are all represented visually and you can tell who is who when playing. So you Kobe Bryant or Vince Carter fans can rejoice as they look very much like their real life counterparts on the PSP’s widescreen.
The arenas themselves are well represented too, but as with last year’s version the action takes place down on the hardwood so there is no need to make each arena that particular. What you will notice, and something that I found to be a nice touch, is the advertising billboards along courtside actually scroll with real life sponsors (e.g. T-Mobile) showing different ones during the game. There are also those scrolling boards along the stadium too that have in-game cheers. All of these small touches add to the authenticity of an NBA game on the PSP.
On a negative side, and something that did bring out an issue with the games graphic engine, are the actual replays. There is no way for you to control any sort of replay and you are only left with a TNT TV-style replay after big plays, in between quarters, and of course after the game. Here you may notice the odd glitch such as missed animations or players clipping through each other. This is not a particular deal breaker when considering the buying the game, but it is somewhat disappointing to see this as this is the 3rd iteration of Sony’s NBA series on the PSP.
The audio for the on-court action is pretty much the same as last year’s version. Everything form the traditional running shoe squeaks on the floor, the sound of the ball hitting the rim of the basket when you miss a shot and the crowd’s cheers and jeers is present in NBA 07. There is also music in the arena that plays during the game and you will notice a PA announcer too. Both of these aspects only further adds to the overall atmosphere of the game. The overall quality of these sounds is pretty good but I recommend you put a set of headphones on as it will allow you to appreciate it that much more then through the PSP’s own internal speakers.
Play by play announcing is handled by Ian Eagle and Mark Jackson. Now I am not a diehard b-ball fan, so I don't really know too much about these two. However, I found that there announcing was not that bad and it added somewhat to the game. Sure, as with any sports videogame announcing they did miss some plays now and then but hey, what can you expect given the limitations of he PSP hardware.
The actual in-game soundtrack is hip-hop based with music from such groups as Ryhmefest, Big Rich and Rakim. I am not too familiar with these artists but the music is ok should you enjoy this type of music.
For those not familiar with the Sony's own NBA series on the PSP, it is nothing like its bigger brother on the PS2. NBA 07 continues this lineage and focuses on the game of basketball alone. Sure, it has a few mini-games thrown in, but those looking for anything above and beyond playing a simple game or season of b-ball may want to look at the PS2 version of this game.
NBA 07 sees the return of many of the modes from last year's game. Anyone who played 06 should recognize the exhibition, season, playoffs, online quick play, shoot around and free throw modes that existed in the previous year's game. As well Sony made sure to include the All-Star Weekend too, including the Skills Challenge, 3-point contest and the All Star game itself. Added to this All Star Weekend is a new Dunk Contest which is, for a lack of a better description, rhythm/timing based. Each dunk you do is rating upon timing the press of the buttons that scroll down from the top of the screen. I found this somewhat interesting but yet somewhat confusing as this type of game mode (rhythm/timing based) seemed somewhat out of place in NBA 07. But hey, it does not hurt to try something new does it?
The newest addition to the individual game modes above is the option to play a pickup game. This is a mode similar to playing a real-life game of pickup in the park with a group of your friends. You are given a group of random players, NBA based of course, and you and your opponent (computer AI or real life friend) choose your players from the group. You are able to view each player's stats so you can base your team on what kind of player you may like. Once each team is chosen you play a quick no holds barred (no fouls or shot clock) game of 21.
Also new to NBA 07 is Conquest Mode. This is a turn-based strategy like game but with a basketball twist. Yes, you heard me right, a strategy game within a basketball game. Your main objective is to take over every single NBA team and each city they belong too (look out Los Angeles). The game is played in such a manner that you have a specific life meter that slowly depletes itself with each shot you take. Once all your health is gone it's game over. Rules are not your traditional basketball related ones as there are no fouls or shot clocks to be found. However, during game play there are some consequences to your actions. For example, if you miss a shot your player will become stunned which in turn affects their abilities on court, but they can be revived after your team makes a successful shot. Upon winning a match you are graded on such things as rebounds, shots made, etc. and you are awarded a medal which, when enough are collected (about 3), you are then given a star that adds to your life.
When I started to play the conquest mode I thought I was in for something that was just tacked on. However, after playing it for an extended time I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with how this game mode actually played. It was a nice diversion from your typical game of hoops and I have to give some kudos to the developers for taking a chance on something this original.
I should also note that there are a few new mini-games too in the form of Carnival mode. These modes are comprised of three separate games: Pinball, Hot Shot and Big Shooter. Pinball is exactly what it says, a basketball themed pinball game. Hot Shot is quite similar to those basketball games on a midway (in look and play) where you have a time limit to get as many baskets as you can. Finally, Big Shooter is based on those Skeeball machines you see at such attractions as Chucky Cheese or any other game strip. You are given 10 balls and you try to place them in one of six baskets. All in all these modes are a nice change as you are rewarded with virtual tickets for your performance and these tickets can be redeemed for one of 50 classic jerseys. This is a nice touch indeed.
The actual gameplay during any of the regular modes is somewhat similar to last year’s version. The shot feature, the colored hoop around the player mechanism, returns to NBA 07. For those who don't know, this has to do with a colored ring around the base of your shooter and the ring turns green for a good shot all the way to red for a really bad shot. Funny thing with this is that not is all well with this method, as green shots still miss and you'll still sink some red shots. It is kind of disappointing that this problem still exists and it is something I think should have been fixed.
My review of NBA 06 talked about some of the computer AI issues, especially defence. Well unfortunately some of these also carry over to 07. You will find that the AI is more hard-line this time around and they actively go after you. Where the frustration lies in is that you will find that the opposing player (human or AI) can drive through the lane without any challenges from any of your computer AI defence where as you will have to work at it to get the same chance as the computer AI opponents will have no problem challenging you. What the heck is that about? This is one of the main flaws of this game. While is can affect the overall gameplay, at least the developers did not allow for you to just walk all over the computer.
Multiplayer gaming takes place in the form of Wi-Fi Ad Hoc (PSP to PSP) as well as infrastructure (online). Now I have to say that I played very little online as my main wireless online PSP play is done at home and I have recently just moved. What limited experience I did get was pretty much trouble free. Connecting was quite easy and there is loads of stat tracking for those stat freaks. A plus for those desiring some multiplayer mayhem is that the Carnival mode (3 mini-games) can be played via the PSP's game sharing feature. This is a nice treat as you can play some mindless mini-games with a friend.
NBA 07 on the PSP is still a pretty good game with solid graphics, solid sound and some great mini-game additions. However, after three years it is my honest opinion that Sony’s series needs a shot in the arm to take it to a new level as there are still some computer AI issues that need to be worked out. That being said, NBA 07 seems to be the b-ball game to buy on the PSP.