NBA games are normally fast-paced and take great levels of skill to really play properly, and this year's version has got a whole bunch of new gameplay tweaks, just to make it that bit more complicated.
The core of the previous game remains the same in NBA Live 07, so if you owned that older version (or a couple previous to that) you'll be instantly familiar with this year's edition. But there have been a few more subtle changes - owners of last year's game will remember the Freestyle Superstar skills (High-flyer, Shooter, Scorer and Playmaker) which you could assign to certain players in your team before hitting the court. Now you can switch players' assigned skill modes right in the middle of the game.
A small icon underneath your player indicates what type of skill they're set to. At the touch of a button you can switch to a different skill mode, which allows you to set them up for the situation at hand before charging in on the offensive. It's too complicated if all you want to do is bounce the ball and pull off killer slam dunks, but we're sure hardcore fans will be well into the enhanced depth this brings.
These Freestyle Superstars have also been given the ability to mimic some of the fly moves you may have seen in real NBA action, but the flashiest of these tricks can only be performed by high-level players. You have to make sure your top player has the ball if you want the moves. Performing this skill and sinking flashy-looking shots raises your team's momentum (or moral), which gives them a performance boost on the court.
There's no doubt that plenty has gone into enhancing this game since last year's edition, but that can be half the problem - there are too many gameplay mechanics to think about. Each year the struggle to improve these games seems to result in the addition of a few dozen more intricate play mechanics to the already perplexing collection. Almost to the point where you can't be good at the game just by knowing basketball. You have to get your head around a hundred different control commands, skill modes and whatever else EA has crammed in there.
More is not always better, and this is the perfect example. All these mode-switching features and momentum bars don't make the game any more fun, or more like playing the real thing. It just gives you more to think about. But that doesn't mean NBA Live 07 isn't worth buying. It's a solid basketball sim, that's great in multiplayer both on and offline. Just think twice about the purchase if you own the previous year's game.
A solid b-ball sim as always, with added gameplay depth and new manager mode
- Freestyle Superstar skills can now be switched during gameplay, making for more variable control over your game strategy
- Dynasty mode lets you create and manage your own team, starting from the bottom of the league and working up to be the best
- New ESPN integration keeps you up to date with... ah, you know what it does - it's in all EA's bloody sports games this year
- All the new gameplay mechanics make the game more and more complicated with each year - bad for beginners
- Despite the added gameplay features, this is basically last year's game recycled so you probably need to own both