2K Sports and Visual Concepts have done a remarkable job keeping the NBA 2K series going over the years. They have continued to put out quality basketball sims, and in the last several years, the 2K series has replaced the NBA Live series as the game of choice for basketball fans. The series has not changed all that much over the years. The core gameplay has stayed the same, the presentation, although rebuffed to stay current, has been consistent, and the realism that is the staple of the series has never faltered. But why change? NBA 2K7, apart from graphical improvements and other tweaks here and there, uses the same formula it has been using for years. And that, my friends, is a good thing.
Don’t buy 2K7 expecting a revolutionary, changed basketball game. You’ll be disappointed. Again, it’s not a whole lot different than the games you’ve played in the past. The controls, gameplay, and game modes are mostly untouched. However, there are a handful of improvements that easily make this game worth the new price tag for the year.
The most noticeable enhancement is in the artificial intelligence. The computer controlled, players, especially on defense, are far smarter than you’ve seen in any basketball game to date. This, in turn, makes the game more difficult in a sense, thus making it far more realistic. Gone are the days of penetrating and dunking at will. Gone are the days of getting into the lane whenever you want to make an easy behind the back pass for a layup. If you do get by your man, the D will collapse and force you to give it up. Players will be in helpside position to back up their teammates. This intelligence translates to offense as well. Teams will actually run and execute plays. This is something that’s not been accomplished before, but in this game you’ll see sets being run. No joke. You can do it too, and you’ll be running pick and rolls, post plays, and give and goes before you know it. All this said, winning now depends on smart play-calling, quick ball movement, and good shot selection.
There are still plenty of moves on offense to keep you entertained, however. Back for another year is the isomotion control. This is executed by holding the right trigger and juking with the left analog stick. You’ll be able to crossover, spin, go behind the back, and more. It takes practice, but it is possible to use it effectively to beat defenders. There is also the hop-step button, which can be used to step back, spin, or lower the shoulder into defenders to create space for a shot. Also back is the shot stick, which is very useful around the basket for acrobatic layups. If you flick the shot stick to the right, you’ll lay it in with the right hand to avoid a shot blocker. This, like the isomotion control, takes some getting used to, but once you do, it will be very effective.
The controls contribute to the gameplay on the defensive side of the ball as well. Using the right analog stick, you can now simply flick the stick in the direction of the ball to make an attempt at a steal, often intercepting the ball or deflecting it away. It’s very intuitive, and contains an excellent risk vs. reward aspect. Once you get the hang of the steal mechanic, you’ll be picking off passes everywhere, and it’s very rewarding.
As far as game modes and features are concerned, this game can’t be beat. Of course there’s the standard quick-play, tournament, and practice options, but also returning is Association mode, and it’s deeper than ever. Scouting will play a big role this year, including pre-draft drills and activities so you can best choose which prize rookie to go after. You can hire and fire, organize practices, and do pretty much anything a general manager would do. 24/7 mode is also back, and this year it even contains a mini-story in it, of how you will work your way up in the rankings, and earn enough respect from pros around the country to get you to the big street showdown. It’s very engaging—even more-so than last year’s version. All in all, you won’t run out of things to do anytime soon.
The presentation is, in my opinion, the highlight of this game, and of this series. The menu presentation is out of this world, the halftime shows are awesome, and the number of visual options you can change are impressive. The main eye-candy in this game, however, is the signature jumpers. Kobe’s jusmpshot will look like Kobe. T-Mac’s leg raise looks like, well, T-Mac’s leg raise. You get the picture. It may not sound like much, but it really is cool to see. The visuals are very next-gen. It doesn’t look all that much different from last year, but they are still very satisfactory. The player models are excellent, and the animations all flow very smoothly. The framerate is smooth, and that is a huge factor in making this game look great.
NBA 2K7 is the basketball game of choice for 2007. The core gameplay is still here, which is a good thing, and hasn’t changed, save a few small enhancements. It looks great, sounds great, and plays great, and you can’t ask for much more than that. 2K7 Sports continues to impress, and this game is an easy recommend for basketball fans.