November 13, 2006 - It can be difficult to measure the worth of a ported title to a newer, more powerful console. Inevitably, people will make comparisons to the previous version, gauging if the transition to the new system is any better (or different) than the original game or if any glitches or bugs have been fixed between versions. Most importantly, fans will want to know if they're missing anything by not buying the game again. In Sony's case, their first party basketball title, NBA 07 came out less than two months ago on the PS2 and PSP, and it's helping to lead the charge onto the basketball court for the PS3. But is this version of Sony's basketball title any better now that it's made the leap into the next generation, or should this game be benched for poor play?
Getting Ready For the Season
Apparently, the athletes in NBA 07 paid attention in digital training camp when they made the transition from the current gen to the PS3. Simply put, both your teammates and your opponents are much smarter than they ever were on the PS2. Players now actively run their assignments as if they're actually playing basketball, closing down lanes and sticking tight to their man or their zone. A lot of the defensive issues, such as approaching an offensive player on an angle or immediately taking yourself out of the play on steal attempts, has been addressed. Now, your players will slide in front of the defender and either put a body on them or throw their hands in their face, slowing down or stopping fast breaks and making quick jump shots much harder. What's more, the AI will start to decipher what you like doing a lot faster than before, forcing you to change up your tactics during transition play. If you like perimeter shooting, they'll start doubling up on the wings, which will make you pass the ball inside.
Players will also actively re-position themselves. You'll see team members fighting their way out of picks, anticipating crossover moves, and shifting back for rebounds or lane adjustments during quick cuts to the basket. Granted, every now and then you'll still be able to drive the lane or fly past a defender thanks to a quick move, but that's more attributed to that player making one mistake instead of the game consistently being unbalanced. You'll also pick up on every player on the court actively tracking the movement of the ball thanks to some redesigned head tracking for each player. No longer is there a second or two hitch before other players turn towards the basket in response to a shot; Now, everyone on the court follows the ball and prepares to make an attempt for an offensive or defensive rebound.
Speaking of shots, the colored shot meter that Sony's basketball series has become known for has been adjusted slightly to take advantage of the speed and power of the PS3 itself. The color meter hasn't changed at all: players releasing the shot button while the meter is in the red are still more likely to miss their attempt than actually make it, while yellow is closer to a fifty-fifty chance and green is almost guaranteed to go in. The timing for the meter, on the other hand, has been tweaked. Whereas the PS2 version had a small hitch before the meter started filling up, the PS3 version of the game starts building immediately, forcing you to adjust when you're going to release the shot button. It will probably take a couple of missed shots to get accustomed to the improved meter, but once you do, it'll definitely feel smoother than before. In fact, you may find that capitalizing on the included Smart Shot indicator (which gives you a heads up on the best time to take a shot) or the Rebound Hot Spot (which lets you know the best time to go up for the rock) is easier thanks to this redesigned shot meter.
The shot meter isn't the only thing that's been modified for the PS3 version of NBA 07. Thanks to the SIXAXIS controller, players can move the controller to perform juke moves, crossover steps and spins to either side of a player. Jukes to gain space can be performed by moving the controller either forward or backwards, which imitate jab steps or hesitation steps. Crossovers are done by moving the controller either left or right, and spins are done by twisting the controller either clockwise or counter-clockwise. While it makes you feel as if you're actually on the court performing the moves, the sensitivity of the controller, particularly with the crossovers and jukes, will make you rely much more on the right analog stick to accurately pull off the moves. Spins actually work well with the controller, but it can sometimes take three or four tries to get used to the movement you need to accurately trigger a crossover or juke. Even after that, you're not guaranteed to successfully pull it off. In fact, I found that performing a slight hesitation in the opposite direction I wanted to perform a move was one of the only ways I could trigger these moves. For instance, to crossover to the left, I had to make a move to the right with my hands before sliding the controller in the opposite direction.