Review: This game needs more Mongoose
Without a quick glance at the updated rosters of NBA 07, the latest licensed basketball game for PSP directly from Sony, one might get it confused with NBA 05, which shipped day and date with the platform itself in March 2005. And really, they would be forgiven for making such an observation, because the game really is a half-hearted update to the initial game, with only the neat little NBA takeover strategy game giving any reason to spend $40 to upgrade last year's game, which too was a pretty half-assed update in and of itself. If you want a reason to see why the PSP isn't exactly setting the world on fire these days ? NBA 07 is a sad place to start, but an obvious one.
NBA 07 has online play, a season mode, ad hoc exhibition contest, and the like ? the awesome 3-point contest is there...but it's the same as what appeared almost 2 years ago. Technology apparently hasn't evolved enough to include a Dynasty/Franchise mode, making it woefully out of date ? which is something because NBA 05 was horribly out of date too, but at least Sony could use the launch as an excuse. Instead, Sony has implemented a new strategy mini-game that's pretty interesting but still not a suitable substitute for a multiple season setup. In this strategy game, you choose a team and the goal is to topple all the others individually, taking them over and completely ruling the NBA. The problems, how many sports gamers want to play a quasi-strategy RPG? Gamers like me (who love both sports and RPGs) are a rare breed and everything.
The same color-coded shooting is back, refined a tad from NBA 06, but still a bit wonky. It's easy enough in practice ? when firing a shot, the ball glows either red for bad shot, orange/yellow for decent shot, and green for almost perfect. The problem is, the game is almost insanely block happy, making most shots fly out of bounds rather than into the basket. Sure it's been proven that a little sub-6 foot midget like Nate Robinson can occasionally block the shot of a giant Chinese dude, but not every single time you shoot
! It all makes NBA 07 very tiring to play ? the 3-point shootout is still amazing but only because that means nobody is around to block your shots every 2 seconds. It's the sort of hassle that could have been fixed ? and it has a bit because it's not as blatant, but still...man. Otherwise the game is playable and there's definitely some potential here if Sony bothers to do anything about it.
Nice glossy arenas that look very much like the real deals, solid player models (it's occasionally possible to pick out the right player even on a teeny PSP screen), a steady frame-rate and active crowds give the visuals some oomph, though again they're based upon the original PSP game, albeit with a bit more resolution and polish. The play-by-play is decent enough and the crowd makes their presence felt, and Sony has made sure to include some licensed tracks to play during the menu screens ? places most people spend little, if any time.