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Where did this come from? Sony's been very vocal about sticking PS3 launch titles like sci-fi FPS Resistance: Fall of Man and the slash-tastic Asian adventure Genji: Days of the Blade in our hands. We've even been kept slavering with glimpses of dragon blaster Lair, actioner Heavenly Sword, and the mud-and-sand racer MotorStorm. But we haven't seen NBA 07 since E3. It's as if it's been tucked away in the workout facility all this time, running laps and pumping iron.
NBA 07 looks like a gamer, with good-looking faces, mostly smooth action, and lots of those little touches that impress even if they truly don't matter: Ben Wallace's puffy hair flops around when he jumps, and you can occasionally see a bead of sweat trickle down a player's shiny brow.
What does matter greatly is the gameplay, and it seems solid so far, though it took us a few moments to get used to using the Sixaxis controller to trigger special moves. A quick flick forward triggered a juke. Pulling back created space to shoot. Sideways was a crossover dribble, twisting the controller launched a spin move, and if we were posted up in the key, a forward motion saw our big boy shove the defender back. This stuff was all still being tuned, so we weren't entirely alarmed that it wasn't as responsive as we'd like it to be.
The game itself strips out the story based mode "the Life" from the PS2 version, but adds in something that many fans may actually prefer: NBA Replay. This is basically a scenario mode that drops you into various memorable moments from the 05-06 season and dares you to recreate them. Plus, once the 06-07 season gets rolling, Sony will add five new scenarios every week, taken from the most exciting moments of the past seven days.
Oddly enough, basketball is the most competitive genre in the PS3 launch lineup - though, NBA Live 07's MIA status lately has us wondering if it's going to be late to the game - so NBA 07 is going to need mad skillz to keep up with the masterful NBA 2K7. However, if the Sixaxis stuff and scenario mode get ironed out, this could be a closer race than we imagined.