Now, before I write this review, I should mention that I am not the biggest fan of basketball. In fact it really ticks me off when there is a Washington Capitals game on and it gets pre-empted by the pathetic Washington Wizards. I do however play basketball on my computer, and for the last few years I have been hooked by the excellent NBA Live series on the PC.
However, now that Sega Sports is back after their release of NFL 2K (the winner of GiN’s Sports Game of the Year), I decided to give their NBA 2K a chance. Once again, Sega Sports proves to me that they are back and they are better than ever.
For those lucky ones who have played NFL 2K, you know what I am talking about. Everything about it is amazing. Whether it is the amazing presentation, the 60 frames-per-second animation, the smooth control, or the godly play by play, it was something to prove that Sega was back. Now it seems that NBA carries that over to the year 2000. Well, almost.
Sure, NBA Live has the same smooth 60 frames-per-second engine that Visual Concepts used for NFL, and the play-by-play is still as impressive as before (it even is so accurate, that when the score changes, the play by play mentions it while other games mention only the previous score.)
The control isn’t as tight as it was before though. I particularly noticed a problem with direct passing. What never was a problem with NBA Live, a simple pass to a teammate might at times go awry, leading in an out of bounds. There is an option to pass to a direct player, a la NFL 2K, but it can be a pain to do. Also, selecting play formations is done by tapping the D-pad followed by a button. It does get to be a pain at times, and makes play calling a pain.
Free throws are also a pain at times. Before, free throws were controlled by a moving ball that you had to stop at the right time. But now, NBA 2K requires you to hold the L and R triggers at the same time and the same level. This may be innovative, but it can also be real tough to do. And at times when I thought I had the arrows lined up, they would snap back into place right before the throw, resulting in a miss.
In addition, you may have noticed that I mentioned the excellent play-by-play, but I didn’t say anything about the sound effects. They are a mixed bag. Most of the time it sounds as good, but I have noticed a lot of breakups or glitches as the game went on.
Otherwise, the game is the same high quality that Sega Sports and Visual Concepts are known for. The graphics engine is top notch (watch the player introductions for proof), and the game plays quite well.
Even the VMU is used well on here. Granted it isn’t a play-caller like in NFL, but it can provide vital information, such as your player’s stamina levels, how many fouls each player has, or how many timeouts are left. It can be useful to plan out substitutions or calling time outs. Other publications claim that this game is more towards the offensive side, but hey, basketball is a very offensive-minded sport. It’s the only sport I know that you get fouled for trying to block or steal, so deal with it!
On a side note, as I was at Pentagon City last week, a computer store there presented both a display of NBA Live on the PlayStation on a 13-inch television, and NBA 2K on a 19-inch television. It goes without a surprise that NBA 2K was the game getting all the attention. A couple seconds later, I saw at least 5 people with copies of NBA 2K. From what I have seen, they won’t be disappointed at all, and a rating of 4 1/2 gems would fit this game nicely, with a half gem taken away for the control problems (touchdown passes, free throws, etc.) and the audio glitches.