LAS VEGAS–Walking around the massive show space at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center for the NBA All-Star Jam Session one sees nothing but next generation NBA videogames. All of the big sports game companies were on hand, including Electronic Arts, 2K Sports, Atari, Sony and Microsoft to showcase their latest games like “NBA Live 07,” “NBA 2K7,” “NBA Street Homecourt,” and “NBA 07,” and “NBA Backyard Basketball.”
Nearly every booth, including Toyota, Fed Ex and adidas, had some type of Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 set-up for kids to play next generation ball. That’s outside of the booths that companies like EA Sports and Atari had set up just for their games.
I learned two things from talking to NBA All-Stars about videogames. Unless you’re on the cover of “NBA Live” or “NCAA March Madness,” both EA Sports games; the consensus around the league is that real gamers play “NBA 2K7” and Xbox 360 is the console of choice. According to the NBA, over 75 percent of NBA players are big gamers–and by big gamers I mean guys who bring their Xbox 360 or PS3 on the planes with them to travel–and play on plasma screens in flight.
Of all the NBA games I played at the All-Star celebration, the one that impressed me the most is the new EA Sports Big “NBA Street Homecourt” game, which is exclusive to next gen consoles Xbox 360 and PS3. The visuals on this street game are unbelievable. The fact that the NBA and WNBA pros (yes, six women are available in the game as an industry first) can play in a variety of clothing (including shirtless for the men), you can really see the muscles and glistening sweat on their bodies.
The level of detail is highlighted by some of the outlandish arcade moves that are easy to pull off in this game. What makes this title so addictive is the ability to jump off players backs for massive dunks and perform alley oops and other special moves with ease.
We’re now getting to a point this year with new releases like “Homecourt” that sports game makers are really starting to push the power of these next gen consoles. The lifelike visuals and fluid animation are only going to get better. Playing these games on a plasma screen is really getting close to watching a real game in HD. Basketball games, with no helmets or protective gear to hide behind, are a great barometer for next gen technology because you see the players up close and personal. From the looks of things in Vegas, ballers are in for some amazing new games this year.