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Day Two E3 Report Two – 2K Sports

It’s well known in the gaming industry that when you launch a new console you have to have a fleet of sports games to go along with it. Titles like Madden or the 2K series have massive followings; without their presence no console will be a success. The 360 had a full lineup from both EA and 2K Sports available at or soon after its launch, but for whatever reason none of the games really felt ready. 2K is now showing off their section revision next-gen sports titles, and they’re looking more than ready.

2KSports Booth
2K Sports’ booth on the E3 show floor is
constantly packed with sports fans.

NBA 2K7 is looking really amazing. Its improved graphics engine delivers some very impressive results. The wooden floors are layered with subtle reflections that highlight the seams between the boards and hint at what’s hanging from the rafters. Player models have been draped in some of the best representations of fabric shorts and jerseys ever seen in a videogame, resulting in uniforms that sway and flow and reflect light just like you’d expect them to.

College B-Ball 2K7
College Hoops 2K7 adds the college feel
to next-gen b-ball action.

Each pro player is also immediately recognizable, both thanks to detailed facial scans as well as the inclusion of many of the top NBA players’ signature moves, whether they be a particular style of jump-shot or simply a habit of fixing their hair on the floor. Their college version, College Hoops 2K7, looks equally good, and features college-specific features like cheerleaders, fight songs, and mascots. NBA 2K7 will hit the 360 and the PS3 this fall, while Hoops is set for an August launch on the 360, and will surely see a PS3 follow-up after.

NBA 2K7
Improved graphics and impressive fabric effects make
NBA 2K7 one of the best looking sports titles ever.

Another game that didn’t get much love for its first release on the 360 was NHL 2K6.NHL 2K7 hits this fall with a wholly new skating mechanism designed to quell fans of the series who didn’t like the feel of the last release. A quick play session didn’t actually feel all that new or improved, but the game isn’t slated to hit the 360 or PS3 until this fall, so there’s still plenty of time to tweak. The ice features a truly impressive level of detail, with reflections gleaming off of skate trails and ghostly images of scoreboards floating on the surface. New this year will also be a system called “cinemotion” that purports to bring some feeling into the game through pre-game pep talks from coaches and some strong fan reactions during the game. We were unable to sample this in the playable version, but were pleased to hear that it will be something you can disable in the final version should it turn out to be not very inspiring.

NBA 2K7
A new skating mechanic in NHL 2K7 will hopefully result
in a better playing game than 2K6.

2K Sports’ second round of next-gen titles feature some subtle but very important improvements that should turn return their series to their previously high regard. It’s a shame they fumbled in the first round, but nobody’s perfect.

[Text and original images by Tim Stevens.]

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