|It seems like everybody and
their dog are putting out a basketball game these days. Thats not necessarily a bad
thing, I just thought Id point it out. It means that the competition is rough, so
the games need to be bigger, faster, and better in order to compete. It also means that
gamers can be picky and more demanding about the games they buy. Fox Sports wants a piece
of the action, and theyve thrown their hat into the ring with NBA Basketball 2000.
The results are, well a pretty decent basketball game, but nothing that makes it more than
any other basketball game.
The graphics on NBA Basketball 2000 are a mixed bag. The FMVs are great, and the graphics arent bad, but theyre not as good as other recent PSX titles. The character animations could use a little work as well. Sure Shaq is bigger than Kobie Bryant, but they both have shoulders like Hulk Hogan. It seems as if there are only three basic body types; small dudes, big dudes, and really big dudes. Their movement up and down the court is pretty fluid, as are their shooting and jumping secuences. Some attempt was obviously made to make the characters look like their real world counterparts, but the graphics lack the clarity and the precision to pull this off in all but a few cases. The arenas look pretty nice, with the exception of the crowd. The first few rows of fans are 3D, but paper thin. The rest of the floor and the cheap-seats are painted on in completely flat 2D that looks a lot like watercolor gone wrong. Its actually pretty interesting to check out, but it doesnt make for a very exciting fan base. The replay camera works pretty good; it doesnt jump in too often and it uses creative camera angles-- and some pretty neat split-screen, multiple camera replays.
The sound is pretty good, but nothing astounding. The announcers do an above average job of staying with the action, and only rarely fall behind. Theyre prone to a few slips every now and then, like giving you shot advice on defense, but over all theyre pretty entertaining and even offer play advicesometimes the advice is even helpful. The announcement routine is fairly shallow and gets old before too long, but this is pretty much standard in all sports games.
NBA Basketball 2000 also suffers from a bit of a control problem; it's way too slow. You can adjust to some of this by learning to compensate for the lag with impeccable timing, but sometimes this just isnt possible. Youll be starring down the CPU, backing him down, looking for him to pull up for the jumper. You see him start the shot, and slam down on the jump button looking for the swat. Unfortunately by the time you actually get into the air the attempted swat looks more like an attempted rebound. Going for the steal against the CPU is equally problematic and usually results in a foul. The CPU is almost always going to have a turnover advantage, and usually a pretty large one.
The game play is pretty good, with a few notable problems. Getting back on transition defense is darn near impossible against a determined opponent, but fortunately the CPU doesnt exploit this too often. You on the other hand, can almost always turbo down the court and drive the lane for an easy dunk. Defense on the whole is a little tough to play. When the Clippers are shooting seventy percent against you, you know you have to make some adjustments. I never really figured out what those adjustments were, so I had to be content with starting a dunk fest. Screw the pick and roll, dont even bother with the three pointer, just drive baby drive and dunk, dunk, dunk. Its Shaqs dream team. Okay, Im exaggerating, the pick and roll can work, but the three pointer rarely does, and that goes no matter what team you pick. On the positive side, the game has a fairly simple set up for calling plays, and even allows the L1 button to bring up your, "go to guy" for the quick dish.
It wont take too long to figure out that NBA Basketball 2000 has a few AI problems as well. The CPU is prone to do stupid stuff, like blow past your defense into a wide open lane, drive half way to the basket without a defender in sight, and then kick back the ball to a teammate in double coverage, who proceeds to take the jump shot. I guess if youre shooting seventy percent in double coverage than it doesnt really matter that much, but I mean come on-- its the principal of the thing. The CPU might take a two point shot when they need a three to win and clearly wont get another shot. They also wont foul you intentionally, and that makes it a lot easier to run the clock down in a tight game. Until youve played enough to get pretty good, the games all seem to stay relatively close due to the CPUs tried and true NBA strategy-- just sink pretty much every shot. In all fairness though, most basketball games end up with inflated shooting percentages.
NBA Basketball 2000 is a pretty good looking basketball game that has a few flaws, but still manages to be pretty fun as long as you can get past the control issues. Just dont rely on the AI to keep you entertained, after a season or so, this one's best left to the multiplayer game.