Who says you have to grow up? Here at SI.com's Game Room, our staffers review the latest sports video game titles to hit the market and welcome your feedback.
8/03/2006 02:32:00 PM
Sneak Preview: NBA 2K7
Posted by Jacob Luft
This is the only way I can watch an NBA game -- on my XBOX 360. Or, as was the case here, the XBOX 360 the nice people at 2K Sports allowed us to play last week when they showed us their demo of this upcoming game.
The most unwatchable pro sports league has at least this much going for it: it plays well on a console. The latest installment of the successful 2K hoops series is such an example. Though their debut title for the 360 -- NBA 2K6 -- felt rushed, they appear to have gotten it right this time around. Here are a few observations from the demo:
The graphics are insane. Everything from the arena lighting to the beads of sweat on the free throw shooter's forehead is rendered to perfection.
It doesn't have the dynamic, behind-the-player camera angle that I liked so much in their NHL 2K7 demo, but it's still fun to mess around with the different vantage points. If you have a widescreen TV and pick broadcast view it looks just like a real telecast of the game. If anything, it feels too much like I'm watching an NBA game. I almost reached for the channel changer.
They hired actors to mimic the moves, mannerisms and shooting forms of most, if not all, NBA players and create hyper-accurate animations for this title.
As far the game play, 2K Sports focused on enhancing the realism of this title. Deflected passes, for example, will actually carom around like a real loose ball would instead of simply floating into a defender's hands.
Apparently as a response to the popularity of the hoops street titles on the market, they added a sidestory where you can play a streetballer trying to earn cred on the playground. It's not finished yet but the part we saw seemed half-baked. I have to wonder if their resources were not better used elsewhere. The best part about it was the use of the create-a-player player engine 2K Sports borrowed from the RPG game Oblivion, though it's too bad they don't allow you to import your custom characters into the regular NBA games.
That's all we have for now on this title. We'll let you know more as we get closer to the Sept. 25. In the meantime, I'll go back to my full-time job of trying to avoid anything that has to do with the NBA.
I gave up on hockey video games years ago. Somewhere along the line, console hockey gaming stopped being fun. Even though new features were added every year and the ice kept getting shinier and the polygon count expanded exponentially, the gameplay was always more complex than it was engaging. Too many buttons doing too many things.
If you were to trace the arc of hockey video game history, you would find it is a lot like the popular band U2: The early stuff was the best. Boy represented U2 in its natural, punk form. October and War were honest efforts, too. Everything since has been an exercise in pomposity and selling out. (Yeah, I said it.) A similar case is Pearl Jam, seeing as how Ten was one of the handful of best albums ever recorded and Vs. was a great follow-up, but I had to check out after Vitalogy.
The best video puck action ever may very well have been the first one many of us remember playing: Ice Hockey for the NES. There were only six teams and no real players, which is what made it fun because you could construct your own team from the three stock characters: skinny guy, medium guy and fat guy. The glory years followed with the EA series on the Sega Genesis: NHL Hockey 94, NHL 95, NHL 96, etc. I believe the fact that the Genesis had only three buttons to choose from is a big part of what made these titles so addictive.
Every once in a while I get the hankering to play a hockey game, but then I remember I left my NES at home when I went away to college and my Genesis is probably in a landfill somewhere. But maybe that won't be the case for too much longer: In September, 2K Sports is coming out with the NHL 2K7, and it's a lot different from anything I've played in the past decade or so.
A couple of days ago, 2K Sports invited myself and Adam Levine, our assistant managing editor here at SI.com, to their offices in downtown New York to play a demo of this title for the XBOX 360 as well NBA 2K7. (Check back here tomorrow for my early thoughts on that one.) At this point, you are probably thinking, "Lucky bastards! They get to play these games way before us and will land free copies while we have to pay $60!" or something to that affect, to which my only response is, Yes, that's basically true. Hey, somebody has to do this job, why not us? Did I mention they fed us pizza, too? Look at the bright side: We'll be there to give the thumbs up when a game is worth your dough.
Anyways, here are some quick bullet points NHL 2K7:
Say goodbye to the tired old top-down camera angle. Instead, this game brings you down lower to the ice and gives you a panoramic view of the action. Wherever you are on the ice, you'll be able to see much more of the rink than ever before.
The skating is tight. Plus, if you pull down the left trigger you can skate backwards!
The commentators have a lot to say and are pretty spot on, but I've never cared much for talking heads. NHL 2K7 offers an alternative: Cinemotion. Instead of commentators droning on, click on Cinemotion and you'll get a musical score that plays to the momentum of your game.
Hey, maybe I just had puck goggles from the 60 inch, wall-mounted plasma HDTV they allowed us to play on, but I'm hopeful that this is the hockey game that old schoolers have been waiting for.