NBA 2K7 hands-on preview

One inconspicuous glance at the 60% complete second generation Xbox 360 version of “NBA 2K7” running at E3 reveals a substantially tuned graphics engine devoid of nagging inconsistencies plaguing last year’s version. 2K explains the player models have been rebuilt and lit in a more realistic manner to closer match their real-life counterparts. Now Nash’s hair appropriately bounces up and down as he runs the floor and other players physiques and faces aren’t blatantly hit and miss. Going along with this emphasis on a more realistic presentation, all the star players have been motion-captured for signature moves. This initiative is part of an ambitious goal at Visual Concepts to eventually mo-cap the entire league. Good luck trying to get every NBA ego to cooperate with that!

The arenas have also been brought one step closer to photorealism thanks to a broader and more accurate color palette, real-time dynamic reflections of the arena’s lights and advertisements on the hardwood floor, a new dynamic camera that switches views randomly and more polygons and pixels dedicated to the court’s immediate surrounding objects. For example, last year’s cheerleaders resembled mindless drones yanked out of an archaic Playstation 2 game. Now the cheerleaders, and other people seated near the court, are all dynamically lit and act independently of each other. Sometimes one cheerleader will get up and dance and other times two or all will join in the fun. The Phoenix Suns Gorilla coming out of the stands to cheer then returning to his seat is a real hoot.

Any gameplay enhancements at this stage of development are being kept under wraps other than a subtle tighter response from the right analog Shot Stick ” which after playing a few games with I still don’t want to use – and a new progressive fatigue system. This system was not a part of the playable demo but as it was explained, a fresh player will fatigue slower than an already fatigued player playing late in the game. Playing an overly tired player late in the game or consistently wearing players down to their last drops of energy will increase the chances of injury.

2K Sports promises more announcements are forthcoming, including one having something to do with the Shot Stick and dunking. Feel free to draw your own conclusions there.

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