Thursday, August 31, 2006

NBA Live '07 : PSP Edition

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Relief! It sounds like the guys at EA Sports have realised how much the PSP version of NBA Live '06 resembled the mechanics of a Bill Cartwright jumpshot and brought their 'A' game for the soon to be released version.
This blog by the Lead Producer of the PSP version gives us an insight into what is to come for '07. It seems that previously the PSP verison suffered the same fate as the XBox 360 version of '06 in that EA rushed to release the game on a relatively new platform, with poor results. First of all, my thoughts on the short-comings of the '06 version, which I hope have been improved:

- Substitutions: the CPU does not appear to be programmed to make substitutions at all, so their starters end up playing the entire game and being exhausted in the 4th quarter.

- Dynasty mode: one of the key attractions of NBA Live is the deep Dynasty mode, nurturing a franchise through many seasons, developing players and drafting as-yet unknown rookies - the fact that Live '06 did not include this severely limited its longetivity.

- Limited AI: point guards (and to a lesser extent shooting guards) have a high propensity to drive to the basket and rack up high scoring averages. The artificial intelligence (AI) of the game is geared in the wrong way in this respect - problems also are evident in some fast break situations where the CPU will hold up play needlessly. The fact that there are no sliders available (which are available in the console and PC versions) to adjust parts of the AI such as this really disappointed.

- Roster updates: as with the console versions, there is no ability to download roster updates through sites such as on the PSP version. One of the main attractions of the PC version for me is the ability to update rosters in tune with what is actually happening out there. The fact that the PSP has a USB link and access to memory sticks should mean updates would be possible - well, I would have thought so anyway.

Enough of the negatives. So what has been addressed in NBA Live '07 on the PSP? According to the IGN Blog linked above, we get the following:

- Dynasty mode with many of the deep features of the console versions (phew!)

- Link to PS2 - meaning that you can play at home on the console, then save the files across to your PSP and go mobile...

- New mini-games - these are often the best features of handheld versions of games, giving a different experience to the console version and this is no exception, with "2 Ball" and "Handles."

- MP3 music can be played during the game directly from your memory stick

- ESPN integration when you go online - though I don't see much purpose in this as it would only be active when you are hooked up via the USB

Many of the other new features that are coming to all versions of Live '07 will be here on PSP too -- for more on those, have a look here.

Let's hope it lives up to the hype.

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