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February 5, 2003
Sega Sports NBA2K3 - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
4/4/2003SegaVisual Concepts1-4$99.95

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Getting major air.
Basketball fans can rejoice as Gamenation are about to release the Sega Sports titles in Australia, including this game, Sega Sports NBA 2K3. With the games already out in America many are seeing the Sega Sports range as a much preferred option to EA Sports' stalling sports titles. As stated in the official materials for this game boasts "jump shots so real players actually adjust their movement in mid-air based on distance from the hoop and defensive pressure, a passing touch that gives you the control to skirt a defender or start a fast break, and dribble moves that let you jab left, rock right, crossover, spin and much more". It certainly sounds exciting and while Sega Sports NBA2K2 never made it to our shores in early April Australian gamers will also be able to enjoy the thrills of Sega's latest title.

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Behind the back.
So it's basketball. Pretty much all basketball games have had similar gameplay mechanics from way back in the early PSOne days with Sony's own Shootout. Sure, the graphics have been improved, as have the number and quality of the animations. But what makes games stand out these days are the little touches. The small bits of magic you see in the real games. Sega Sports NBA 2K3 promises to deliver that. The game has an all-new ESPN broadcast styled presentation which stays true to the sports fans, player introductions, game highlights, replays, scores and more. Sega picked up the rights to the ESPN brand when Konami let it lapse last year. At last the ESPN license looks like being put to good use - unlike Konami's pathetic sports titles.

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Check out the cheerleaders!
When it comes to the actual gameplay Sega Sports are promising an extended passing game so you can control the pass type and direction and fake a pass to put your opponents off. The low post game has also been worked on with new fronting, faking, pivoting and facing up actions and the ability to change the direction mid-move. When it comes to game modes the developers have worked to improve the one-on-one street mode where you can pick any player from the teams to play outside. The game also includes an all-new franchise mode where you can recruit, hire and fire both coaches and players. A couple of alterations have been made to the 2K2 game to make this version more realist. Firstly, the shooting from the floor by the CPU has been dropped from a ridiculously high 70% to a much more modest number, the goaltending has been fixed and the shots going under the backboard has been removed.

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Time for a slam dunk.
This game is also very solid in the looks department. Employing an "Advanced Animation System" the developers claim to have the players moving more naturally and with increased facial detail and expressions. Sega Sports have added new steal animations and dibble moves as well as over 50 new motion captured dunks for added realism. One of the biggest new animations is the players diving for a loose ball, often sending them into the crowd. Terrific. From what I have seen I have no hesitation in saying that the animation and graphics in this game are equal to, if not better then, those in EA's NBA Live 2003. The commentary has also be improved further from the reportedly excellent commentary in past games in the series. The game also boasts sounds from coaches, music in the stadiums, chants and effects such as trainer scuffs on the floor.

All is looking very nice indeed for the release of this game in early April. The only disappointment at this stage is the probable loss of online gameplay. Not yet confirmed, but almost certainly gone.