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NBA 07 hands-on

While publishers EA Sports and Take-Two seem content to chase each other with conventional basketball sims, Sony's NBA series is quickly distinguishing itself as a quirkier, more experimental take on the sport. And while the PS2 version takes the unusual step of putting you into the shoes of a single player, rather than a team, the PSP version has its own ways of redefining digital hoops.

The game is classic five-on-five, but NBA 07 adds something completely unprecedented: turn-based strategy. In the game's Conquest mode, you'll pick a team and will be assigned to defend that team's home city. The thing is, you won't be playing friendly games; this is war, son, and the winner will become the only basketball franchise in America.

On the map screen, you'll be able to challenge any team adjacent to your city, extending your reach with each town you conquer. Challenging a team takes you to street or park courts for a real-time, schoolyard-style pick-up game. Interestingly, nobody's keeping score here - instead, each team has an energy meter that's depleted when the other guys make a basket.

Win, and your players will get MVP medals - which eventually translate into more health - and you'll be able to trade your one of your players for the other team's. (Each player carries a letter grade, which makes swapping your worst for their best simple for non-experts.) Conquer a team in their home city, and you'll be able to freely shuffle their players with yours.

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