Alejandro K. Brown is a contributor to GameCore, CBSNews.com's gaming column written by William Vitka and Chad Chamberlain.
Let's get this straight from the start: I'm not that big into sports. Players' stats don't concern me, I give commuters the sports pages to lighten my paper, I'll usually watch sports on TV if someone who is into the sport is watching. I own all of 2 sports titles in my extensive gaming library and both of them are multi-player wrestling games for friendly gatherings.
But I'm hooked on Sony's NBA '06 for the PSP.
The game play works to the PSP's strengths and keeps mobile in mind. Everything from the 4 minute quarters, to simple passing and shooting controls, to easily setting offensive and defensive plays with simple button pressing makes the game very accessible and easy to get into. Awesome for a non-sports-gamer like me.
Veterans expecting the complex control scheme found on its bigger-console version will find the controls have made simple to pull off basic evasive moves with the use of a modifier button. So, while the pro "B-ballers" won't be able to chain a nine-move custom maneuver, the PSP makes it easy to have your center post up, have your forward run the baseline, set a pick with your open guard, spin fake to the left, then take the open 3-pointer to the right, all with five button presses. The control is spot on and very responsive. I never found myself wondering about a command I entered that never happened, or was delayed. Great game control is when a game lets you focus on the game you are in, not your fingers on the buttons. I'm happy to say NBA '06 has this covered.
All the basic basketball game-types are here. Quick exhibition games make for a fun way to kill 18 minutes. The full-featured season will definitely interest the basketball veterans wanting to sink their teeth into the full team and player management aspect of the game. If you just want to play the best of the best, you can go straight to the playoffs series or jam with the cream of the crop in the All-Star game. You can even practice your shooting skills with a free throw session or shooting warm-ups.
To show that it knows how to break up its well-crafted basketball simulation with fun; you'll also find a nice assortment of mini-games. Challenge a pro to a game of "HORSE," where each player must repeat making baskets or get a letter. Spell "HORSE" and you lose. Run the full court while testing your dribbling, passing, running and shooting skills in the "Skills Challenge". The "3-Point Challenge" and "Own the Court" games test your shooting skills. Dodgeball, (yes, dodgeball!) lets you get a 6 on 6, head-hunting, smackdown for points. It's a little silly, but a refreshing break from all the hoopin' you'll be doing.
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