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Nov 26, 2008

Review: NBA 2K9

2K Sports, Visual Concepts
Available for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC, PS2

The videogame sports season is in full gear again which means it’s time for me to learn how to put down my RPGs and RTSs, and pick up the NHLs, NBAs and NFLs. This week we’re heading back to the hardwood floors to play a little b-ball with NBA 2K9.

2K Sports has consistently held the title of king of NBA games, but with EA bringing a better game year after year, 2K Games had to step up their winning formula this year and remind the gamers why they hold the title for best NBA game franchise.

Hitting the hardwood in single player mode, you find some very solid gameplay that is a noticeable step up from last year’s game in many ways. Offensively, the AI has been much improved and seems to accurately force you to make good shots and run plays on the defence. Defensibly, it takes players speed and size more accurately into account now, so you have think about who you send to cover who on the court or you could end up losing large over and over again.

It was nice to see the player’s speeds were finally fixed, so they were running at a more natural pace this time around. In past games, they always seemed to barrel down the court like they were in a Sonic the Hedgehog game or something. Shooting in post is still a game of hit and miss though and hook shots are always a pain in the neck to make, but these little problems are made up by the great perimeter and midrange offence.

Online play allows you to play some 5 on 5 with each player being controlled by a different gamer online. The living roster feature also allows you to update all the players stats in the game based on how they’re really playing in the NBA that season. Pretty cool, huh?

In the Association 2.0 mode or GM mode, you have the ability to manage the team of your choice as GM, which allows you to pick your roster, manage who will play what position, encourage and inspire your players, and manage all the little details in order to bring home a winning team.

The graphics in this year’s game are fantastic and so realistic that this is probably the best it’s ever been. The crowd looks and reacts just like a real crowd does (drink throwing not included), and the court has that perfect glossy shine to it. The players, though a little ugly in the facial area, did come out looking quite real this year and mimic a real NBA player’s so much you’d think you were watching a game on TV instead of playing a videogame.

The highlight reels which saves all the footage from your gameplay and then splices them together to mimic a real playback montage on TV is pretty neat to watch and never once did I skip pass the replays, just for that reason. The on court animations, both offensive and defensive never repeated enough for you to notice them, but the off court animations need a little more work as they were a little choppy.

The sounds of the game are excellent from the cheering and booing of the crowds to the squeaking of the sneakers across the hardwood floors. Almost like you were there, but remember, no amount of screaming at the TV makes your team stop losing.

All in all, NBA 2K9 proved that it can still blow away anything EA can bring to the table for the NBA franchise and I think all basketball fans will be more than happy with the latest instalment in the franchise. So lace up your sneaker, grab your Gatorade and hit the court for some b-ball with NBA 2K9.

Rating: 8 out of 10
Buy it!

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