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Playstation 2









989 Sports



E (Everyone)



Q4 2003



- Online Play

- Easy to pick up and play

- Career Mode

- Voice recognition technology

- Create a dunk mode



- AI Issues

- Poor collision detection system

- Average visuals and frame rate problems

- Those looking for a more complex game of b-ball may not be interested



Review: NBA Live 2002 (Playstation 2)



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NBA Shootout 2004

Score: 7.0 / 10


Remember the good old days when 989 Sports and EA Sports battled it out on the PSOne giving the consumer the ultimate advantage? Well if youíre a sports fan like me, youíll probably remember those good old days. Those days seem like a distant memory as the Playstation 2 hasnít been an area of expertise for 989 Sports. NBA Shootout 2004 (NS) has made significant strides in improving the Shootout series, but unfortunately it's not enough to stack up to the competition.


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NS doesnít rely heavily on complex offensive or defensive formations. NS is a game with a very slight learning curve but there are three areas in which NS stands out above the competition. Most notably those being the career mode, voice recognition compatibility and the online play.


Most sports gamers are accustomed to the career mode. You take the same team(s) through season after season and carry out the duties of a general manager or coach. NS adds a new and interesting twist to the career mode. In the career mode you can create a player and play with him through a summer league. You end up playing their NBA teams, but against less skilled players who wouldnít be starters for a game. You build your attributes as you play more games and get more experience. Your performance during the summer league will dictate whether or not you get contract offers and have a chance to play in the NBA.





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There are only a few games which come to mind when I think about voice recognition technology, including SOCOM I and II for PS2 and Ghost Recon for Xbox. You can use a USB headset online and offline for both voice chat and calling out plays to your players. If you're playing offline you simply hit the L1 button and you can shout over thirty plays for your players to carry out. You can call for a screen or set up a 2-3 zone defense. It feels a little weird at first and takes some time getting used 


to, but itís convenient and a nice innovative addition. Even if you donít have a headset you can still call plays by the push of a button by using the D-pad.


The most impressive feature by far is the online play. NS has the best online set up of any game on the Playstation 2. NS supports both narrowband and broadband connections. The amount of features available online will make your head spin. Some notables include message boards, friends list, polls, surveys, email access, and tournaments. There is even a real sports ticker which updates you with all the scores from all the professional sports. There is even a special section in which you can send a message to the development team with suggestion or comments. The online play is extremely smooth and a lot of fun no matter what connection you're playing on but here isnít a very big online community yet -- itís sometimes difficult to find someone to play against.


Like I mentioned before, the gameplay is pretty basic. There are a few additions such as the ability to change you shot in mid air. There are some particular faults with playing offence. I found that some offensive plays are almost unstoppable. Using a pick and roll is always an easy way to get by the computer. It seemed to work a little too well. Itís the same when playing against a human opponent. 989 finally implemented the use of the right thumb stick for freestyle moves, but the addition seems a little to late and sloppy. Using the right thumb stick you can do crossovers, spins, fakes, etc., but pulling off these moves can actually be a little difficult. Often enough youíll keep doing the same move over and over. Playing defense isnít a whole lot different. I have been itching to find a simulation style basketball game in which playing defense is fun and enjoyable. NS hasnít scratched my itch yet. The most effective method of playing defense is using a zone defense. All you basically have to do is stand under the basket and hope for a missed shot. Your teammates take care of everything else.


There are two things which drastically hurt the game. The AI and the collision detection system. The AI is just plain dumb at times. They often leave a man open, making for an easy two or three points. The referee misses obvious fouls and goaltending calls. The collision detection system is poor as well. Youíll frequently see players hands passing through the bodies of other players or players going through the backboard when doing a dunk.


The graphics are much improved over its predecessors, but fail to compete with NBA Live or ESPN NBA Basketballís graphics. There is more detail on the player models and the animation looks good. But one thing that bothers me is the fact that all the players faces arenĎt accurately modeled. One of coolest presentation techniques is the new poster cam. The poster cam occurs whenever a player is about to go up for a huge dunk and all of a sudden everything slows down and just before your players put the ball in the bucket the camera speeds up.


The presentation at the beginning of games seems to lack the realism and authenticity seen in other games. You donít even hear the announcers introduce the players. All that is shown are the players warming up by shooting a few basketballs. Ian Eagle and Bill Walton provide commentary for the game. The commentating is excellent, fluid and never falls behind the play.


NBA ShootOut 2004 isnít a bad game of b-ball, but there are a number of better games available. Those looking for a simple game to pick up and play should give NS a try. 989 Sports keeps improving their franchise each year, but unfortunately itís too little to catch up to the competition.


- Siddharth Masand

December 12, 2003

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