ESPN NBA Basketball
I am going to be honest. I am no sports enthousiast, I never was en never will be. However, playing “This Is Football” or “NHL” on the magic black box has entertained me for weeks. The same principle can be applied with “ESPN NBA”. I don’t care if they managed to get licences or if the models match the real-life players, which they do quite well actually according to a friend of mine. From my point of view a video game should all be about having fun and feeling good and not about how realistic it is because, let’s face it, you are playing basketball with a controller on a television. No game can match the real deal, what it can do is provide you with a really good alternative that makes it possible to do things you can only dream of, like a race in the heart of London at rush hour or an opportunity to shoot people like a mad man. Not that I would ever want to put such things into practice as some ignorant outsiders with a lack of knowledge would dare to claim, but in another world it can heat up the tension and get you out of this stinking world for a few hours. So for those of you who don’t believe in or haven’t found a third place, at least now you know mine.
Enough chit-chat. The first thing I noticed were the supreme sound effects. I can’t differentiate the sound of the sneakers when they bounce over the floor from the one that I’ve heard while seeing a match on TV. There is one thing though, which you’ll find in almost all of my reviews, the commentary is very repetitive. Luckily the options offer a wide range of possibilities and you can adjust everything you can imagine. Guess what? I put a mute on Tom Tolbert. After some research I found out that he gives commentary on real games too.
The graphics really squeeze the last drop of energy out of the heat producing core, so if it’s cold in you’re room, turn you’re ps2 around and keep you’re hands in front of fan. I’ve already mentioned the quality of the models, but other elements are also more than average. The floor shines like a mirror, audience is better than in other games and everything is balanced so you won’t find any bad or disturbing things that ruin your illusion. But I expected nothing less, what did surprise me, were the proper surroundings for menu’s en stuff like that. It made me feel as sitting behind the tellie watching a game, which immediately creates the proper atmosphere. And that is what I mean with providing a really good alternative, it feels as if the stakes are higher and that the world is watching you and all these things combined makes sure that you live the game in stead of playing it . But there is a downside to everything, loading reminds me of turning on a Pentium2 and waiting for XP to complete his bootstrap.
Games like these came a long way so you’ll know that gameplay can’t be bad. After so many generations they’ve gotten so many opportunities to debug and adjust it to the gamers needs. The accent lies on simulation. You won’t be able to pass the ball, rush to the other side and dunk. The ball will have to be passed around until the defence makes a mistake and you get a chance to pop the bal in. This is more difficult than it sounds, and defence isn’t easy either. Bashing down the x-button to snatch away the ball like in other games won’t be possible here, because then there will be a big chance that you will make a violation. So, precision and timing are keywords, because the with good AI equipped opponents will immediately take advantage of your mistake. Inexperienced gamers will have to practice and adapt the gameplay. The more advanced ones will also have a handful learning how to handle the new isomotion.
If you don’t like classical tournaments or quick-games, no need to fear because a whole lot of alternatives are here. Most worthiest of praise is probably the 24/7 mode. Which I think is the ultimate and should be implemented, or at least something like it, in every game. It comes down to a sort of career mode where you have to create a man, fully adjustable with tattoos and everything. You’ll then take this character and start with him at the at the bottom, learning all the basic skills and then continue your way to the top by winning al sort of competitions and challenges. This really adds so much to a game. It reminds me of the “story mode” with “Need For Speed: Porsche Challenge”. This is a race game and although die hard race fans will also have a good time racing, this mode kept me occupied (and frustrated) for many days. And it doesn’t matter which genre it is, such modes are, with some adjustments, possible to implement in every game. I should also mention that before starting the game, you should adjust you’re clock and date in the ps2 browser menu, because the 24/7 mode will give you an alternate path playing in the evening or at noon. It goes even further, when you haven’t played for a week some of your efforts will be cut back, so you should try to play regularly. Besides the classical and the 24/7 mode there is also a street mode, where rules of professional basketball aren’t as tight so you can play more freely.
So, if you are into basketball, this is definitely one you should consider. There are a lot of different modes where in everybody should find a goal they would like to achieve. Graphics are excellent, sound adds what it should to create a proper atmosphere and the gameplay is difficult though refined. A bad thing are the excessive loading times. Don’t be impetuous however, there are a lot of basketball games to choose from, so read some other reviews. Suppose all basketball games are equally good, you will like one better than the other.