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NBA Inside Drive 2002

High Voltage Software



1 - 4


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 seriously degraded.

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 grievances.

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.

Nate "Gamer X" Ahearn
Doesn't want to be like Mike.

NBA Inside Drive 2002: The Scores













The Final Word:  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.

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