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989 Studios



E (Everyone)



March 16, 2005



- Looks great for a handheld game

- Mini-games are fun

- Multi-player mode is smooth



- Lackluster controls

- Oddball shooting interface



Review: NBA Live 2003 (GC)

Review: Street Hoops (GC)

Review: NBA Ballers (XB)



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Score:  6.1/10


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NBA for the PSP, like many of the other PSP sports titles is a hard game to review.  On the one hand, NBA is by far the best-looking basketball game ever to grace a handheld; on the other hand, NBA looks rather drab and boring in comparison to the current console basketball titles.  On the one hand, the gameplay is remarkable for a handheld;  on the other hand, it wears out its welcome in only a few plays.  In the end, it is probably only worth a purchase if you are a huge basketball fan and just have to have a five-on-five, NBA licensed basketball game for your PSP.  Everyone else should pick up Street instead or wait for next years' model.


The best way to think of NBA for the PSP is that it is a like the final generation of PSX basketball games, but with a little better graphics.  The animations are smoother and the character models, though small, are more detailed.  The frame rates are more consistent also, but, really, that is about it.  Sound-wise, the game is right on par with those Playstation titles.


Unfortunately, the gameplay remains about on par with those titles also.  It is nearly impossible to lose a game on any setting from the first game on.  It is simply too easy to hit jumpshots after only a modicum of practice.  The A.I. on defense is laughable.  The first few games or so, you will likely have many shots blocked—some remarkably unrealistically—but as soon as you adjust to taking shots with an extra cushion of air between the player and the defender, the defense stops providing any problems.





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What can cause more problems than the defense is the unintuitive shooting controls.  Each shot (well, most shots) in NBA require two button presses, with an on-screen cue as to the best time to release the shot.  This works decently, but feels clunky and slow.  Worse, is that dunking is done through canned animations triggered by one button press near the basket.  It is nearly impossible to tell if you are going up for a 


dunk or to shoot a lay-up, and if you shoot a lay-up, a second button press is required.  This is usually needed before you know it, so expect to miss a lot of lay-ups.  This turns the game into a jumpshot shooting contest that really isn't that much fun.


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I did appreciate the full-featured (for a handheld game) modes available, including a smooth multi-player mode and a couple of cool mini-games.  Hopefully next year's model will expand the mini-games and add a deep franchise/dynasty mode to give the game more longevity.  That is assuming Sony punches up the gameplay enough that I'd want to play longer.


Danny Webb

(July 31, 2005)


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