September 12, 2000

NBA2K - Review

Release Date Publisher Developer Players Rating RRP
23/3/2000SegaVisual Concepts1-4G $99.95
VMU Game Difficulty Save Size Vibration 60Hz 50Hz Border
NoMedium198 BlocksYesYes None

Click To Enlarge ImageWhen Electronic Arts decided not to develop titles on the Dreamcast the future started to look a little bleaker for Sega. Electronic Arts' sports titles are the most popular by far when it comes to sport games and they have created some amazing franchises including FIFA Soccer, Madden NFL and of course, NBA Live. But Sega need not worry as Visual Concepts proved their skill with the awesome NFL2K which was a Dreamcast launch title in America. Their second title is NBA2K, a basketball game.

From the moment you boot up NBA2K for the first time you know this is something special. The intro is exciting and the music is fast paced. The main screen shows a wealth of options including exhibition matches, seasons (of variable length), playoffs, or practice sessions. It is also possible to select various camera angles and replay modes. There are also two different styles of gameplay, arcade and simulation, both of which offer plenty of excitement. NBA2K also includes an impressive 28 stadiums to play in, each of which has some rather active crowds.

Gameplay in NBA2K is almost perfect with Visual Concepts easily matching the excitement found in other basketball titles such as NBA Live and Total NBA. Pretty much any move that can be made in a real basketball game is here. This includes dribbling, passing, shooting, blocking, stealing, fake shots, crossovers (switching hands), sprinting and even shielding the ball with your body. It is possible to set up plays on the Dreamcast d-pad so you can call them at any time. The VMU is also used wisely to show the energy remaining on each player.

Click To Enlarge ImageControlling the players in NBA2K is an absolute joy. While it is easy enough to just pass an shoot the ball performing some of the tougher moves takes a lot longer to perfect. For instance, ally-oops are easy to set up but hard to pull off, just like real life. The computer AI is fairly good although at times the opposition seems too perfect. Rarely will the opposition miss a pass or even a 2-point basket.

While the game may sound almost perfect there are a couple of faults that really should have been fixed prior to release. The biggest problem is that your passes can occasionally go way wide of the mark, even if the intended recipient is only a few meters away. Another fault is that as soon as you run into a defender your players momentum abruptly stops. This makes passing a defender an agonising task. The other minor niggle is that simple shots are missed so often by your team and yet the opposition can get almost every shot. Still, it's a fairly balanced game overall.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about NBA2K are the graphics. Visual Concepts have taken sports games to another level in realism with TV styles presentation and some amazing texture mapping on the players. There is even an option to create your own players with almost every possible feature on the players able to be modified, often with extreme and amusing results. The game also has some amazing animation. Visual Concepts motion captured over 1600 different moves for NBA2K. The game runs at a constant 60fps and has almost no slowdown at all. The only extremely minor niggle is that the collision detection can be a little bit off with some players arms passing through opponents limbs.

Click To Enlarge ImageVisual Concepts have obviously spent a lot of time on the sound in this game. The first thing you will notice while playing the game is the very fluid commentary. The commentators are very accurate with realistic speech and phrases that don't sound like a series of sound bites strung together. Ambient effects such as the crowds cheering, players shoes on the court, PA announcements and players talking are equally impressive.

Sega may not have Electronic Arts' NBA Live or (obviously) Sony's Total NBA, but NBA2K has proven itself to be a more then worthy title. If you love sports then this game is a "must have" game. The speed, excitement and action has never been captured so well. You won't be disappointed.

Graphics Sound Gameplay Value Overall