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Visual Concepts

Sega Sports


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For all those ballers out there Sega Sports has released yet another basketball title. But does this latest entry live up to the series' excellent past?

Nothing beats playing a little round ball with the boys. Whether it's shooting hoops in the backyard or slamming against sweaty bodies, fighting for a much-needed rebound, basketball is one hell of a good time. Ever since the conception of sports based video games, the basketball sub-category has been one of the most difficult game to master. If there's one series that has continuously come through in the past few years your mind should immediately jump to Sega's NBA 2K series. But will the series be able to make the transition from the beleaguered Dreamcast to the monstrous Xbox? What do you think?

The game plays out exactly like a real NBA game would. Players react accordingly to specific situations and coaches call appropriate plays and well timed timeouts. The gameplay of the game is by far the greatest ever conceived. Offensive and defensive plays can both be called on the fly by using the right analog stick and Sega has even put in the necessary time to add zone defense into the fray. Now you'll be able to combat the ferocious offense of your opponents with a 2-3, 1-3-1, or a 3-2 zone, or you can just go with the standard man-to-man.

Team specific offensive plays are also available for you to call on your way down the court. The Lakers run their standard triangle offense and the Jazz perform the classic pick-and-roll combination perfectly. The option to apply different types of pressure to specific players (either tight, loose, or normal) is also available, as is the option to double-team a major scoring threat. You have the ability to call for a pick to get open from a suffocating defender and to commit an intentional foul to stop the clock in a close game. If you could envision a game with all the imaginable options within the actual game, then you can imagine what NBA 2K2 is.

The controls of NBA 2K2 serve their purpose quite well and offer for an extremely high level of playability. The standard formula of pass, juke, icon passing, and shooting is allotted to the A, B, Y, and X buttons respectively on the offensive side of the ball. For defense the same buttons are used to switch players, steal the ball, switch the closest man to the basket (which can be used to block a man driving to the hoop), and jump for a rebound or to block a shot. The black and white buttons are used to pass to the closest man to the basket and to call for a screen on offense, and on defense are used to cause an intentional foul to stop the clock in clutch situations and to call for a double team on a scoring threat. The L and R triggers are used to face up and sprint on defense, and to back down and spring on offense (more on posting up later).

The game modes in 2K2 are fairly standard to the rest of basketball crowd on the Xbox featuring Season, Practice, Tourney, Exhibition, and Fantasy. However, thanks to two notable additions NBA 2K2 soars high above its competition. What might these additions be you ask? Why, Franchise and Street of course.

We'll begin with the Franchise Mode, which allows for the same level of depth and enjoyment of any of today's football games. You'll get to play through multiple seasons with your favorite squad of ballers and then draft a new set of rooks to take their place as they retire.

The second worthy addition to an already stellar package is the Street Mode which allows you to choose 2-on-2, 3-on-3, 4-on-4, or the tradition method of 5-on-5. You then have the option of choosing a venue of play, which range from a standard park to a practice center. Basically the mode provides a fun environment for you to talk some major smack, away from the eyes of forty thousand screaming fans and allows you to get down to the heart of basketball, handing out a good ole fashioned butt whoopin'.

The artificial intelligence featured in Sega's newest basketball title is quite possibly the greatest ever seen in a basketball game. A new addition to this year's entry comes in the form of shot disruption. Let's say that a player is driving to the hoop and jumps in an effort to make a right-handed lay-up when suddenly out nowhere a hulking center comes to block the shot. In NBA 2K2 the player will try to switch to the left hand or do some acrobatic aerial move to dodge the block which turns out to be visually pleasing and quite unpredictable. Other nice additions appear in defensive rotations, something that has been absent from every basketball game that I've ever played. Centers will rotate over to stop players driving to the basket after your point guard has been schooled. The pick and roll also works to a lesser degree of success thanks to the defensive switching that now occurs.

Graphically NBA 2K2 is slightly over shadowed by the categories of the game. The visuals are somewhat blocky when compared to the smooth textures and player models featured in Inside Drive. The stadiums are nicely detailed with flashy lights and solid court graphics. My only complaint with regard to stadium details lies in the reflections? Since when can you see a player's reflection on the court? Are they that shiny? I don't think so.

The crowd in the game hurts the graphics spectacle a bit. The members of the crowd appear very blocky and apparently all have the exact same wardrobe as every third person or so is wearing the same outfit. The motions of the crowd are also fairly uniform, every so often arms will fly into the air but they are all a bit too uniform to be considered realistic.

The audio portion of the game is another stifling aspect of the overall performance. The announcers of NBA 2K2 stray away from the excellence of NFL 2K2 (they stray very far away). For some reason the announcers don't recognize free throws as points. After the opposition makes two free throws the announcers will still blurt out something to the effect of, "They're on a 8-0 run here" (in reference to the team who now has the ball). The crowd and sound effects perform adequately but the repetitiveness and inaccurateness of the announcers is unacceptable for such an excellent game.

Multiplayer in NBA 2K2 centers on you kicking the snot out of your buddies in any of the game's many modes. You and three of your buddies can play against or with each other on any team in the league, or you can take part in (my personal favorite) the Street Mode, which is always good for a laugh.

Customization in the game is definitely a strong point of the title. You can create your own team along with your own players. Depth of the player customization goes as deep as any other title, it features the standard options of player attributes along with the added visual touched such as knee braces and facial hair. The only shortcoming that I was able to find in this portion of the game is the inability to import your created team into a franchise; instead you are limited to only one season.

Overall NBA 2K2 is by far the best basketball game available on the Xbox. If you already have the first two Xbox b-ball games, this title is still worth picking up just so you know what you wasted your money on. Sure, the game stumbles a bit in the audio and visual department but that isn't what gaming is all about. What really matters is the fun factor of the game and that is where NBA 2K2 delivers above any other.

Gamer X
Tried rebounding in baseball and was thrown out of the game.

NBA 2K2: The Scores













The Final Word:  Sega delivers in a huge way with NBA 2K2. If there are any ballers out there who have played the first two basketball titles out for the Xbox, it's definitely worth 50 bucks to run out and pick up this exquisite title.

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