Last year, EA released its first basketball title on the Xbox 360. It was its first next-gen title. The decision was pretty much unanimous: It was a disappointing game. First off, it didn't even include the standard gameplay modes that have come to be standard in the current-gen games. Not Dynasty, or even the freestyle controls. Sure, the graphics were great, but in no way did it make you think next-gen. This year, EA hopes to make up for that title. The good news is that the gameplay modes, such as Dynasty Mode and All-Star Weekend, are included, making for a more complete game. The bad news is that it still does not feel like a next-gen game. Simply put, it's not that fun.
But let's talk about the positives. Dynasty mode is included, and this is where the bulk of your time will be spent. You will again be able to take your team and players and manage them through their careers. The freestyle controls also are on the 360 for the first time, and you'll be doing the usual moves with your favorite stars in no time at all. The stars look good doing them too. All-Star Weekend comes on the scene as well, and you have all the events at your disposal. There's the dunk contest, 3-point shootout, and you can even play the rookie game. All-Star Weekend is a refreshing addition, and a good distraction from the usual game modes.
Back from last year's game is the loading screen feature. When your selected game is loading, you will be able to shoot around as your favorite player on the familiar shiny black court. This makes for an entertaining wait, if nothing else.
NBA Live 07 looks goodâ€”most of the time. The player models are excellent for the most part, and in general they move pretty well. However, the animations and movement flow is often very poor. When a player is dribbling, there is often a choppiness about the movement that is very distracting. Shots are the same way. They often look very jerky, and it takes away from the feel of the game. The stadiums and crowds though, are wonderful. They shine, glisten, and shine some more. This is only accented by the great in-game sound. The commentating is actually quite good despite lack of making sense from time to time, and the crowd noise is the best to date. The soundtrack is your usual hip-hop stuff, and won't disappoint. Overall, the graphics make some nice improvements, but it disappoints more than anything else because of the choppiness and jerkiness.
The gameplay is not good. It's not even really that fun. The AI is poor, the decision-making is poor, and, well, most things are disappointing. There is a third button for shooting, which can be helpful at times, but is mostly just annoying. It is still impossible to play any kind of effective defense, as the computer will score no matter what you do. Free throws are next to impossible to make. The mechanic is just too hard to figure out, and doesn't touch 2K's pull and release mechanism. Stealing and passing are both sketchy, and are too inconsistent to even try sometimes. You can't even do simple things on offense like call for a pick when you need to. The movements do not feel tight, and you simply don't feel like you're in control the majority of the time. Should a next-gen game feel that way? The achievements for your gamer profile are, for the most part, pointless as well.
Overall, NBA Live 07 does a good job of including the game modes that should be included, but it fails where it counts. It's simply not that fun to play, and is not what gamers should expect from a next-gen title. If you need a basketball title to get you through the season, go get NBA 2K7 from 2K Sports. It is the clear choice.