The latest in Take 2's basketball series.
Xbox 360, PS3, PS3, Xb
If you're like me, you will be left utterly confused by NBA 2K7's lack of a main menu. When the game is loaded, it appears that you have selected two teams for an exhibition match... it took some messing with the controller to realise that the right stick brings up the main menu to decide what game type you want to play.
Once you've found your way in, NBA 2K7 gives almost every game type you could ever hope for in a basketball game. 24/7 is a one player mode where you create a NBA hopeful, playing "Street" games at trials for Rep to become more recognised. From the outset it feels strangely like a Tony Hawk game, minus the stunts at the playground. Your friends guide you through story mode, giving advice on what you should do next and praise or tips after each match.
Character creation is great and you could spend hours creating players. I created a 6'4" player who was not much good in the trials. I made the same player 6'10", and suddenly the game came alive and he started to impress.
"Players look the part, and with all the official squads from the NBA, this must have been no mean feat."
There's also the obligatory Xbox Live and multiplayer options. NBA 2K7 is all about head-to-head gameplay against human opponents, and slamming a dunk down on your pal's defender is the business. There are no problems on Live, and the choice of options from making a 1-on-1 street game to the two all star teams playing each other, really set it off.
That's not the end of the options either; having a look through all the menu will take some time in itself, however I recommend everyone visit the mini-games, air hockey (also found in NHL 2K7) and a darts game. They won't distract you from the main game for too long, but they're certainly worth a wee half hour of your time.
Graphically NBA 2K7 looks excellent; and players sliding round the court, replays of major shots and dunks are pulled off very, very well. Unfortunately the camera can be slow, especially when playing out from your base line after an opposing goal. Here it can take a vital couple of seconds for the camera to catch up with your players running toward your opponent's net. If the player you are controlling is out of the screen it can be particularly difficult to try and work out where he is. This is even worse when defending and your opponent is charging up the court towards you.
Player animation is NBA 2K7 really makes the game. Players dribble the ball up and down the court with bags of style and dunks and alley-oops fly through the hoop in an impressive variety of ways. Players such as Shaq look the part, and with all the official squads from the NBA, this must have been no mean feat.
"Once you've found your way in, NBA 2K7 gives almost every game type you could ever hope for in a basketball game."
Gameplay for NBA 2K7 really captures the feel of basketball, and it's high-speed end to end stuff from start to finish. You'll find your passes all go where you want them, although your team-mates can pass back to you a little quickly sometimes, before you have had a chance to find more space. What's frustrating about the game is how good your opponents are at defending. Getting past players can be very difficult and in a game where goals are scored so frequently this is a major frustration. Practice with the left trigger and you'll learn the spins that get you past your opponents, however if you have more than one man marking you this is still very difficult.
My other main gripe is that the 24/7 mode goes on for far too long with little happening. You need to get 100 Rep to unlock the next court, but the game doesn't tell you this anywhere. It can become disheartening playing game after game with no clear indication of what you are trying to achieve. You receive text messages to your phone telling you what you should be doing, however I felt these would have been better if they had one of your friends tell you in a cut-scene. It's quite easy to miss the icon on screen which appears then disappears, telling you that you have received a message.
The season mode is also very difficult and I'd recommend picking a highly ranked team to get a feel for the game as opponents much weaker on paper than you can still prove to be very tough on the court. Of course difficulty won't be a problem for players keen to put some time into NBA 2K7. Aside from the starting difficulties for the noob, NBA 2K7 is very sophisticated. Anyone with an interest in basketball will find everything they are looking for in NBA 2K7.