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September 26, 2006



- Once you practice and learn the freestyle moves for your favorite team and players, you’ll quickly increase your winning percentage

- Court action still as up-tempo as ever



- A.I. can still be manipulated way too easily on both offense and defense

- Graphics still are Draft Lottery-awful, in need of a major upgrade

- Too many button choices (dunk lay-up, shot) while selecting a shooting option on offense add an unneeded layer of complexity



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NBA Live 07

Score: 8.0 / 10


In the infamous words of Philadelphia 76ers superstar Allen Iverson, we’re talking about practice, man. That’s what you’re going to need if you want to find success on the virtual courts of competition in Electronic Arts’ newest version of its long-running basketball title, NBA 07. With a ridiculous amount of freestyle moves (literally hundreds) that break down defenses at your disposal, you’ll need to practice, practice, and practice some more to learn those moves well. These specialized moves, which are designed to be unique to each player, particularly the superstars like Allen “Mr. Practice” Iverson himself, are absolutely necessary to learn and utilize to be a consistent winner on NBA Live 07’s hardwood.


nba live 07          nba live 07


These true-to-life moves, along with the overwhelming integration of ESPN into NBA Live 07 (with live sports tickers and SportsCenter updates when you’re logged in to Xbox Live), bring much more realism to the gameplay experience (once you get “practiced” in the art of the freestyle controls) and overcome some of NBA Live 07’s flaws, particularly weak graphics and some uneven gameplay on both offensive and defensive ends of the court without – yep, that’s right – practice time before you start playing NBA Live 07.


Once again, the gameplay is very arcade-oriented, with fast-paced up-and-down-the-court activity, although it certainly proves more entertaining if




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you have a good mastery of NBA Live 07’s many controls. Ironically, despite being a up-tempo game, the speed of NBA Live 07’s players doesn’t seem to be that fast, as even using the speed burst while running doesn’t to the naked eye have any effect on the player’s rapidity.


While the gameplay is good, NBA Live 07’s A.I. 


can be manipulated to your advantage on both offense and defense. On offense, the A.I. can be beat consistently by getting close to the basket and dunking over and over. Even a team with outside gunfire from sharp-shooting snipers is better off dishing underneath and dunking with a big man. As you are playing defense, the A.I. can be tricked into shooting into your defenders’ hands for blocks by having your defensive players jump toward the would-be opposing shooter early. Jumping toward him seems to force him into a shot attempt sooner than intended, resulting in a block or a miss. If you play back on “D”, even when it seems you have perfect defensive positioning, too many times a basket will be scored over you, usually on an in-your-face dunk.


Freestyle control rises above the rim to another sky-high level, but that requires you to really play a lot (to practice) to acclimate to each individual player’s skills with regard to said freestyle controls. If you don’t become expert in freestyle control, it’s going to be hard to win games on a regular basis. Even the basic shooting controls are tougher to master, as there’s a controller button to not only shoot the rock with a jumper (with better shooters such as Ray Allen having signature jumpers), but there are also controls for dunking and lay-ups. A few games under your belt, and it won’t be as tough, but, again, it’s another facet of gameplay that needs practice time. There’s also an X Factor ability, which essentially acts as a momentum boost. Certain players have the X Factor, which allows them to step up big in key situations, like making a clutch shot or a shutdown defensive stop.


nba live 07          nba live 07


There are a more than a few modes to get your hoop groove on, from the season mode to the somewhat improved dynasty mode, to my favorite, the All-Star Weekend highlighted by 3-point and dunk contests. It’s good that NBA Live 07’s gameplay and modes are appealing, because the game’s graphics are really revolting.


Do you know the Gatorade commercial featuring Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade, Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter and Jenny Finch? The one where they have disturbingly big heads on even more ill-fittingly disturbing little-kid bodies? That’s what the player visuals of NBA Live 07 reminded of, in a bad way – weird big heads on seemingly smaller bodies. This is certainly a game that could use a dramatic increase in visual charisma. Thankfully, the announcing tandem of Steve Kerr and Marv Albert do an above-average job of calling the action and making good color commentary remarks.


I know that EA Canada (the game’s developer) is trying to differentiate the twelfth man from the superstar by introducing a insane plethora of new moves, but without practicing, many of these new moves are never even implemented by the average gamer, and it really serves to bring too much complexity to the move schematic and shooting controls. Also, the A.I. can be manipulated into bad defense and bad shots and there’s still unsightly-like-Shaq-shooting-free-throws graphics.


Still, NBA Live 07’s gameplay, best described as arcade-style and closer to little-brother title NBA Street than a true simulation, is still enjoyable taken as a whole with some good gameplay mode offerings. While NBA Live 07 might not be starting-lineup material, it sits comfortably in the sixth-man spot, indulging its longtime fans of the franchise with another reliable rendition to get their “basketball jones” on.


- Lee Cieniawa


(October 30, 2006)


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