NBA Live 07 Review
NBA Live 07 box art
System: X360, PS2, X, PC, PS3, PSP Review Rating Legend
Dev: EA Canada 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: EA 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Released: Oct 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 - 4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
Review by D'Marcus 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
EA drops the ball...then punts it out of bounds.
by D’Marcus Beatty

A few years ago, EA Sports bought exclusivity rights to football titles so that no other developer can make a football game featuring current athletes. We should all thank the gaming gods that the NBA refused the same exclusivity contract with EA, because NBA Live 07 is one of the most disappointing basketball games to ever grace a console. While we are seeing gradual improvements in EA’s rivals, 2K sports, EA seems to not really care about their basketball game. While Madden is definitely the cash cow of their sports titles, the neglect that EA is showing their basketball fans may cost them some supporters this year.

NBA Live 07 screenshot

Obviously, one of the first things to notice are the graphics. NBA Live’s graphics are above current-gen standards but don’t quite capture that ‘wow’ factor that gamers are expecting from next-gen. On replays and up close the visuals shine, but during gameplay they’re usually less than impressive. The player models all look fairly decent, with great muscle, skin, and hair textures but their impact is terribly marred by the horrible animation. The players’ movements on the court aren’t lifelike at all, often coming across as choppy, awkward, and stiff. It does beat NBA 2K7 in presentation though. Also, the coaches and crowds look much better in Live than in the competition.

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The gameplay doesn’t do much to improve Live’s appeal either. The use of three different buttons for shooting, layups, and dunking seems unnecessary. Usually, when a player is in the paint and hits the layup or dunk button, he will either be called for an offensive foul or he will magically glide through the defenders to attempt the inside shot. Players don’t have to work hard to try for an inside shot and the ease of it makes it unsatisfying. Also, for some reason, the layup and dunk buttons aren’t disabled when the ballhandler is out of the paint. This means that if a gamer hits the layup button while on the three point line, the player will attempt to shoot an awkward jumper/layup hybrid from the perimeter that is almost assuredly going to miss. It probably would have been wise to make these buttons contextually sensitive, so that when it’s obviously impossible for your player to perform a post move, he can attempt something else, like perhaps a hook shot.

NBA Live 07 screenshot

NBA Live has Total Freestyle Control, which allows the player to choose how his basketball athlete behaves. With the push of a button, the athlete can change styles from a High Flyer to a Shooter to a Scorer or a Playmaker. While this does allow for variety in an individual player’s style, it seems awkward for a basketball star to be able to switch his entire gameplay style in the blink of an eye. Despite its unrealistic nature, the feature works fairly well, allowing any gamer to take a particular player and make him become the type of player that’s needed to win in any given situation.

EA has chosen to eschew using the ESPN license for presentation as fully as 2K Sports has done in the past. Instead, EA has a number of features that allow gamers to access fresh content daily via Xbox Live. Players are able to get ESPN Motion video clips, radio podcasts, SportsCenter Updates that inform you of the latest sporting news, and real time scores that run across the bottom of the screen in ticker format. These additions are a nice touch and well integrated into the game, but it would have been great to see the ESPN license being put to use within the gameplay without having to be connected to the internet since all gamers don’t have access to Xbox Live.

NBA Live 07 screenshot

One area where EA has always done well is in the commentary, and NBA Live is no different. The commentary between Marv Albert and Steve Kerr sounds realistic with pauses in speech and trademark mannerisms, unlike the fairly chatty announcers in NBA 2K. The announcers in Live speak less frequently than in 2K sports and their commentary is often more relevant. There is also a great well-rounded soundtrack as well, which is generally the norm for EA. EA just slightly gets the edge over 2K in this area, as many of 2K’s songs were exclusively written for their soundtrack, while EA has licensed songs that are more popular and well-known.

Last year, EA omitted a number of modes in the Xbox 360 version that made their way into current gen versions. This year, these modes return. Dynasty mode allows you play the general manager for a team and to micromanage everything about your players from their fatigue levels to their contentment. There is also the All-Star weekend mode which includes the dunk contest, the three point shootout, the rookie challenge game, and the all-star game.

NBA Live 07 screenshot

NBA Live is a severe disappointment to fans of the genre. While EA has added many of the features that were missing from last year’s offering, there are still too many issues that need to be ironed out, including the animations, the flow, the online gameplay, and the challenge. This game is only suitable for adamant Live fans. If you’re looking for a good basketball experience, NBA 2K7 is the route to go this year. Hopefully next year EA will shape up its game and come back ready to play some hoops.

Features:

  • EA SPORTS™ Total Freestyle Control: Take complete control of EA SPORTS™ Freestyle Superstars to perform the true-to-life moves of a High Flyer, Shooter, Scorer, or Playmaker, then elevate your game to the next level by changing skill attributes on-the-fly. Toggle through your Freestyle Superstar moves at any time to decide how your stars win the game.
  • Take Over the Game: Use the all-new progressive control system to maneuver your Freestyle Superstars to elevate their play and take over the game. Perform a spectacular move to dazzle the crowd and boost your team's momentum. Feel the intensity rise as your defensive stopper, veteran leader, or fan favorite steps up in key situations.
  • Hundreds of Moves: Freestyle Superstars now feature different levels of ability to replicate NBA players, giving you ultimate control over hundreds of moves. But only the game's greatest players can rise to the highest level so get the ball in their hands when the game is on the line.
  • Signature Jump Shots: The game's best players have their signature jump shots replicated in-game for true-to-life authenticity.
  • Unprecedented ESPN Integration: With the most advanced ESPN integration package ever offered, the worldwide leader in sports delivers updates, scores, breaking news, radio podcasts and ESPN Motion.
  • New AI System: Introducing an intuitive game engine specifically designed for Next Generation consoles. Take full control of your offensive game with team-specific plays, such as the triangle offense and the pick-and-roll. Assert your dominance on defense with the ability to elevate into the air to block shots or grab one-handed rebounds.
  • NBA All-Star Weekend: ESPN analyst Greg Anthony and TNT broadcaster Ernie Johnson call the action as you showcase your skills in the Slam Dunk Contest and 3 Point Shootout. The weekend includes the Rookie Challenge and the prestigious NBA All-Star Game.
  • Advanced Dynasty Mode™: Take charge of your favorite team by becoming GM and experience the challenge of managing team chemistry throughout the season. Scout players, propose trades and investigate rumors to keep your team on track from the NBA Draft to the NBA Finals.
  • Voices of the NBA: Former Chicago Bulls star Steve Kerr joins the legendary Marv Albert courtside. Together they call all the action from the best seats in the house, giving you expert insight on all the superstars.

    By D’Marcus Beatty
    CCC Freelance Writer

    3.0

    Overall Rating - Fair
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
    Rating out of 5
    Rating Description

    3.0

    Graphics
    Character models look good up close, but animate terribly.

    3.5

    Control
    The controls are decent but don't always match animations.

    4.0

    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    Excellent soundtrack and commentary.

    2.0

    Play Value
    Even with all of the new features, the game isn't much fun to play.
    Online doesn't offer much new either.
  • Screenshots / Images
    NBA Live 07 screenshot – click to enlarge NBA Live 07 screenshot – click to enlarge NBA Live 07 screenshot – click to enlarge NBA Live 07 screenshot – click to enlarge NBA Live 07 screenshot – click to enlarge NBA Live 07 screenshot – click to enlarge NBA Live 07 screenshot – click to enlarge NBA Live 07 screenshot – click to enlarge

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