Playing a video game should be a fun experience. It should be an immersive experience. The gamer should not feel like he is playing just to get through the game. In a basketball game, this means that it may be helpful to include more than just the games themselves. This is the direction that Sony has taken with its basketball franchise.
Last year's game, The Life Volume 1, was a fun game that brought an RPG effect to the basketball genre. It told a story, and was actually interesting to follow it. This year's version, The Life Volume 2, tries to take that formula and expand on it. How does it fare?
NBA 07 The Life Volume 2 is not drastically different than last year's version. The game modes are the same, as you have The Life mode, season mode, and online play. The gameplay itself is also pretty much the same, and this is not a bad thing. The controls are the same, and work very well. The movement and freestyle juke moves blend into each other very well with the analog sticks, making for a smooth ride. The passing, shooting, and other features blend very nicely to make for an overall very well-animated game. The physics in this game, surprisingly, are actually very well done as far as basketball games go. You'll see deflections, players adjusting to the flight of the ball, and the like. There are a refreshingly low number of glitches as well, such as the ball flying through a player who doesn't even act like he sees it.
As far as the Season mode is concerned, you probably won't spend much time here after a while. Controlling a team for only one season is pretty much outdated, and is far too easy to completely dominate by making trades and easily building a team of stars by trading for them. There is almost no depth, because all of the aspects of a dynasty or career mode that draw people in, such as money, rookies, drafts, managing, and chemistry, are not there. Essentially, the Season Mode is a bunch of exhibition games in a row, followed by the playoffs, in which you will breeze through the competition.
The place where you'll spend most of your time is in The Life mode. In this mode, you'll be tracking a couple of wannabe superstars named Big W and The Kid. You'll be controlling both players through their roads to stardom using mini-games and challenges along the way. The storyline, like last year, is very well done, and it holds together excellently. The gameplay is engaging, and the cut-scenes add to the experience. My only complaint with the Life mode is that sometimes the load times are a bit on the long side, and with all the loading it does, this can get very tedious.
This game looks pretty goodâ€”for a PS2 game. Again, the animations are relatively smooth, and everything tends to move well. The player models leave something to be desired, however, as they often look very blocky and mechanic. When you catch a glimpse of a player's arm and it looks like a 2 by 4, it takes away from the experience. For a PS2 title, it is... acceptable.
If the graphics are acceptable, then the sound is... unacceptable. In a sports game, especially basketball, we've come to expect commentary during a game. It has become standard. This game chooses to omit the commentary altogether. Instead of commentary, they tried to emphasize sound effects and other environment noises to make up for it. It does not work very well, and the lack of commentary is not only noticeable, but it's downright annoying.
NBA 07: The Life Volume 2 is a fun game that offers a different spin on the world of basketball. It plays well, and for a PS2 game it shows a lot of firepower. SCEA is doing something different with the genre, and that is always refreshing. It's not the best looking or sounding game, but the solid gameplay and entertaining story mode make it worth the time of any fan of the genre.