The Xbox's second basketball title plays well,
but does it live up to the expectations the basketball world? There's only
one place to find out, check it out inside.
The Xbox has an abundance of sports games, there's no
denying it. The football genre is completely overpopulated with three
superb football games, all of which are worthy of your hard earned cash.
As the second basketball title for the Xbox (after EA Sports offering),
NBA Inside Drive 2002 has a lot riding on it. Does it live up to the
astronomically high expectation set by all of us basketball lovers? You
didn't really expect me to tell you so early in the review, did you?
If you've wanted to play in the NBA but couldn't quite
match to grandmother in the skill department then Inside Drive will bring
you as close as you'll be able to get thanks to a very professional presentation.
The one fallback to the game's layout is the absence of the clock and
score on all plays. It will occasionally flash up while you're bringing
the ball up the court but even in the closing seconds of a half it will
hide itself from sight until the last moment. What this amounts to are
a few losses that could have and should have been victories.
The graphics are reminiscent of NFL Fever, which is definitely
a compliment to the developers. The players sport realistic faces and
the running animations appear to be dead-on with their real life counterparts.
The court reflects the lights placed in the rafters accurately and the
players cast vague shadows as they sprint along the hardwood. The crowd's
detail level could use a little work but that's definitely being a bit
picky. Some pixelation erupts when you get bit closer to the fans with
the game's camera.
The player and in game animations are easily the worst
part of the game's visuals. The pump fake animation is painful to look
at. The ball apparently leaves the player's hands as he brings the ball
back to his body. When watched in the replay mode, it's hard to believe
that this made it by the watchful eye of the developer.
The ball's animations are also unreal. Thanks to my years
of watching and playing basketball I'm here to tell you that not every
shot has an amazing amount of rotation on the ball. As the ball leaves
the hands of the players no matter on their position on the floor it
features a huge amount of spin which is how everyone would want to be
able to shoot, but sadly can't.
The net in the game is yet another element that suffers
from unreal movements. Even when the ball should smoothly swish right
through the net, the nylon seems to move as if the ball had come in at
a bit of an angle. While this doesn't hamper the overall feel of the
visuals it's just a little detail (one of many) that should have been
added to the game.
Where the visuals fall flat, the sound picks up the slack.
While the announcers do suffer from a bit of flat and unimaginative comments,
they succeed in keeping the commentary relaxed and entertaining. The
PA announcer in the game also succeeds at supplying some comic relief.
My personal favorite came when the announcer told someone in the crowd
that their car was on fire. The ball and players sound as realistic as
possible, which may be a small detail but had it been done without the
level of attention to detail it has, the quality of the game would have
The only small grievance that I have with the audio in
the game lies within the crowd. Let's say for instance you're dribbling
down the court unabated by defenders and you decide to pull off a stylish
juke move such as spinning or crossing over. For one reason or another
the crowd freaks out and start cheering and "oo-ing" and "ahh-ing" like
nobodies business. This isn't a serious issue, although it is yet another
element adding to the unrealistic nature of the game.
With a mixed bag of features as is, the gameplay features
only lower the game's overall playability. Inside Drive has only three
gameplay modes, season, playoffs, and exhibition. Sadly the absence of
the franchise mode seriously degrades the overall longevity of the game.
Hopefully next year this will be remedied as well as the aforementioned
The controls in the game handle a bit better than that
of Live's. It's much easier to play defensive in the standard defensive
stance that it is in EA's game. Icon passing is a breeze and the configuration
makes sense in comparison to NBA Live. Calling plays on the fly is done
by utilizing the d-pad, which is very easy and accessible when compared
to similar basketball games.
Gameplay in Inside Drive is medium paced, not quite breaking the barrier
between simulation and arcade and not quite slow enough to be boring. Dribbling,
shooting, and passing the ball are all easy thanks to the game mechanics
employed in Inside Drive. If there's one thing that keeps the gameplay
from soaring higher is the fact that it is too easy to block a shot. While
seeing the ball slapped out into the crowd is a welcome sight it happens
a bit too much. For instance, while powering the ball down low to Shaq
I happened to be in position for a two handed slam. Out of nowhere Vince
Carter comes up and slaps the ball away just before it going through the
hoop. Unrealistic? You betcha.
So is the computer not enough competition for you and
your immense skill? Care to play a little multiplayer? There isn't much
variety in the multiplayer experience when compared to the single player,
which is standard fare for basketball games but wouldn't it be nice to
have some kind of shooting or one-on-one option to play against some
of your buddies? Oh well, maybe High Voltage will implement it in next
year's game. We can only hope.
Overall the game isn't bad. It just doesn't have the
depth to keep up with Live or NBA 2K2. The gameplay mechanics almost
make up for it but the visuals and animations drag the title back down.
The audio provides some solace in a beleaguered title but sound can only
do so much. Keep an eye out for this one next year as it has got tons
of room to grow.
Doesn't want to be like Mike.
NBA Inside Drive 2002: The Scores
The game has a lot of potential but sadly this year's
addition doesn't quite live up to it. The graphical performance
isn't shabby but it doesn't live up to the intricacy
of Xbox's other sports titles. The audio portion does
a good job of immersing you in the feel of an NBA game.
With solid game mechanics and overall feel, watch out
for this one next season.