Next-gen NBA games…

Well, it’s too bad, but EA Sports — the king of the sports franchise games, in my opinion — has pulled the plug on NBA Live for the next-gen consoles, which is a shame.

You’re left with basically two options. First — Sony, SCEA, has released its own NBA game, NBA ’07.

Your other option is 2k Sports’ NBA 2k7. Now, I originally started NBA games with NBA 2k2, and I loved it, but I moved to NBA Live because I was enticed by somewhat more fast-paced gameplay.

Now I’ve returned happily to NBA 2k7. I tried out NBA ’07, Sony’s offering, and while the graphics are wonderful, the game is a mess. It’s strictly “arcade” play — meaning the game is nothing but a dunkfest, with little defense, little strategy, little simulation value. Playing it online gives you the same problem amplified; it’s plagued by “cheesers” — people who exploit and abuse bugs or weak spots in a game instead of trying to play an honest NBA-like game.

NBA 2k7, when played online, can also suffer from the same problem, but there are many leagues you can join which ban “cheesing” and stick to playing a more sim-oriented game. In general, offline, though, NBA 2k7 is a great simulation game. It’s hard to play, it’s not a dunkfest, and you have to really try to play like you’re playing a real NBA game to win it. In other words, it’s the Madden of the NBA franchise videogames.

Some people may not like this game, and prefer the fast-paced dunking of NBA ’07, but there is no doubt in my mind that those who really like basketball will prefer NBA 2k7. And, by the way, the graphics in NBA 2k7 are just as good as those in NBA ’07; perhaps even better, as NBA ’07 is so obsessed with eye candy over gameplay that they’ve made the players appear almost plastic — and kind of creepy.

NBA 2k7 also offers a wealth of different modes to play; there’s something for everyone in the game. It may throw a few people off with its complexity at first, but once you get some of basic controls down, you will love this game.

I advise you to rent both titles first and judge for yourself, but as far as I’m concerned, NBA 2k7 is the new standard by which next-gen basketball games should be judged by.

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