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NBA 2K7 (X360) Review

For the longest time, it was all about EA’s Live series when it came to b-ball. But when 2K Sports started churning out their own brand of simulation-style sports, the intensity of the competition greatly increased. And for 2007, another battle is brewing, but who can take home the hoops crown this year? Does EA prove themselves the capable winner, or can 2K Sports offer up a better option with NBA 2K7? Well, lets just deal with the latter for now, shall we?

The Xbox 360 has presented several top-notch visual presentations in its first year of existence, and while 2K7 doesn’t quite measure up to the likes of Oblivion or the recently released Splinter Cell Double Agent, it’s still pretty darn impressive. Play animations are clean and smooth, there’s a ton of detail everywhere you look, and even though the characters themselves have that plastic-y appearance, they’re still meticulously designed. The replays suffer from some serious issues and a few truly bizarre player faces might frighten the snot out of you, but all in all, the graphics are mostly excellent.

The sound includes a large rap soundtrack, decent crowd noise, and better-than-average commentary on the floor. The sound effects are almost flawless, complete with every assortment of sound bytes you might hear on the court and overall fantastic clarity. If you’re not that interested in rap, you’ll have difficulty finding anything worth listening to on the soundtrack, but you should’ve expected that going in. The dialogue in the “campaign” 24-7 Mode can be a little painful, too, but much like the graphics, the complete package is solid.

And then, of course, we get to the gameplay. One of the first remarkable aspects of NBA 2K7 is the fact that 2K Sports has taken large strides in finally giving the 2K b-ball games some character. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of posturing and preening in the sport of basketball, and while this might not be an honorable trait, it’s still a trait…and an obvious one at that. Therefore, if you set out to create a simulator, you must attempt to capture that attitude and all-encompassing cocky atmosphere. This time around, 2K definitely got it right.

Most of the prominent NBA players are here with several signature moves and animations, there’s some good ol’ hangin’ on the rim in the playground games, and you’ve got to uphold your “rep” in the surprisingly deep 24-7 Mode. Even the little things are here, like the quick “hold-your-shot-technique” pose after nailing a long-range three and that hop-skip after throwing down a massive dunk. If this doesn’t help to capture the NBA environment, nothing will.

The core of the gameplay centers on the top-notch control, as the game somehow manages to be both immediately accessible and realistic at the same time. You can pick up and play almost instantly, but you really do need a basic understanding of the game to ultimately succeed. You can rarely just drive the lane for a lay-up or dunk; you must first break down the defense with the help of a pick or good ball movement. Uncontested shots fall easier than contested ones, a team in foul trouble is in actual trouble, and good defense relies on your ability to balance steal attempts with man-to-man guarding and timely rebounding. Now that, my friends, is basketball.

You’ve also got a well-designed free-throw system (shock!) and the Shot Stick is back and better than ever. When driving to the hoop, you can use the right analog to choose to lay the ball up on the left or right, or attempt a normal, flashy, or reverse dunk. To top it all off, you’ve got the typical bevy of features and modes, including the appropriately deep season mode, the single-player campaign-esque 24-7 mode where you rise through the street-ball ranks, the always popular quick exhibitions and two-on-two playground dunkfests, and the incomparable Association mode.

If it all ended here, we’d have a “AAA” title, no doubt about it. But unfortunately, there are a few glaring issues. First and foremost is the menu interface, which is just plain weird. It just doesn’t seem to be optimized well with the 360 controller for whatever reason, and you’ll continually make mistakes just because…well, the button setup for the menus makes little sense. Also, unless you really fiddle with the sliders, you’ll find yourself missing a ton of short-range shots, although we’re not sure why. The ball likes to bounce around the rim and fall out again and again, and that can be uber-frustrating.

There also seems to be something resembling rubber-band AI; when heading into the final quarter, opposing teams tend to really turn up the heat, with or without reserves in the game due to foul trouble. This isn’t something you want to see in any game you claim to call a “simulator.” Lastly, the AI remains a touch questionable. If you simply cover closely, you can oftentimes steal away the inbounds pass. The computer players will inexplicably stand stock still when they’re trying to inbound the ball, and you can really take advantage of this little glitch.

Overall, though, the good far outpaces the bad. The game of basketball is so well depicted in NBA 2K7, you’ll certainly be able to deal with the negatives while getting lost in the truly immersive NBA world. It’s got a boatload of style, and most importantly, the game looks and feels exactly the way a basketball game should. You have to know a little something about the sport, and that’s precisely the goal of a good simulator. Furthermore, with top-notch multiplayer and online capability galore, you won’t soon be putting down NBA 2K7.

So here’s your undisputed 2007 winner. Hands-down.

2K Sports
Visual Concepts/Kush Games
Release Date:
September 26, 2006
Final Rating:

Author: Ben Dutka

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