Review by Kane
"This is as good as Carter's dunk on Freddy Weis! Okay, maybe not, but it is still damn good..."
This game is Sega Sports' second attempt to rival EA sports NBA Live series (which has been quite disappointing in recent years). NBA2K, while having a few flaws, made a strong impression on most Dreamcast owners: actually Sega's franchise -the game is developed by Visual Concept which is now owned by Sega- is the only good basketball simulation on DC out there. I am a big basketball fan, and I usually enjoy my simulations a lot: I want them to be realistic but also to be fun with high-flyin' dunks and above the rim play! NBA2K1 isn't that much different from its predecessor, as is the case with most sport series... The main addition obviously is the internet mode which lets you play opponents from across the country and show the world your ''ill handles.'' Is this addition worth getting the game for? Is NBA2K1 the best basketball simulation out there?
When I first saw NBA2K, the first words that came out of my mouth were ''Woa...''. Obviously, NBA2K1 is based on the first installment's engine... So it looks beautiful, and I mean it. You can easily recognize the players and the arenas. What's more, even the coaches look very real: Phil Jackson, Lenny Wilkens, Larry Brown, Pat Riley... They’re all in there. The players even have their real-life tattoos! I was very impressed by the amount of detail on the players. Their shoes and gear look very real, so don't worry, you will feel exactly like watching a real game on TV, except this time Carter won't miss that last jumper. The public looks great from far away but when using close views it really doesn’t look that nice. It really is the only graphical flaw I can see in this game. Even the menus look nice, but it's true that they could have been flashier.
When playing in Streetball mode, you might notice how the playgrounds resemble the real Chicago and NYC courts they were modeled after. The shadows on the players look very nice, too. I personally think that the players look a lot more real than on EA's NBA Live series. Visual Concepts based the looks of the players on last year, and also included historic players in it: you will be able to play as Earvin ''Magic'' Johnson, George ''Iceman'' Gervin or even Wilt ''The Stilt'' Chamberlain! No Michael Jordan though... It seems that the developers could not get the license. Oh well, you get Kobe and Air Canada instead!
The new breed, the new millennium... One word: E-LE-VA-TION!''
That is taken from the beautiful introduction of the game, made of a mix between old-school and new-school highlights. It gets you pumped up to play the game, and for once, the in-game animation doesn't disappoint at all. The players' moves are very fluid and realistic, and the jams are spectacular. For those of you who play basketball in real life, you will love to see how realistic the crossovers and three-pointers look like. What more is there to say? After committing a foul or throwing down a nasty dunk, the players show emotions... Who said that the DC lacked an Emotion Engine chip? ^_^
There are many different dunks, lay-ups and other moves in the game... The motion capture was performed by famous players such as Brian Grant and Bo Outlaw. For once, I think I will say it: I think the animation is perfect.
NBA2K1 is not a big step from its predecessor in terms of gameplay. But then again, I think NBA2K was excellent in this area. You have all your usual basketball-game moves in there... the Turbo button is still here, and it plays a big role in the game: tired players will not be very efficient. I think that there are a few new dunks and moves, too. Swat blocks are spectacular but they also raise your chances to commit a foul since you need to press the Turbo button. You can do alley-oops, show-and-goes and slick post-up moves. There are many strategies available for you all wannabe coaches out there. No worries, the gameplay is great overall. I personally don't really like the free-throw system. While it is innovative, it is quite frustrating sometimes, and even worse, it makes things incredibly hard after a few hours of play (you need to adjust the cursors using both triggers).
The only reason why I gave it an 8 is because as with every sports game, it could be improved... There will always be small things lacking, but for the first time I actually felt like I was playing basketball and not playing a videogame sometimes. And that is an awesome feat in itself.
Opponents are everywhere
You can play up to 4 players on a single Dreamcast for some crazy fun. The game is not really complicated so it can appeal to casual gamers as well... Just call your friends and work on your D and you’ll be set!
Yes, a perfect score... ^_^
I will explain: this game's ambiance is extremely good. You can hear the players scream when they dunk, the ball bounce on the court, the public cheer or boo the players during the introduction... You can hear the players say ''You can't stop me!'' in Street mode, for instance. The public is really realistic, you can hear whistles and comments on the players when the players are on the free-throw line. What's more, the players (and coaches) actually talk to each other!
The music is almost non-existent in this game, but the little music there is is alright. Visual Concept got some help from Def Jam records and Redman.
But the most impressive aspect of this game regarding sound are the commentators. I did not find them annoying or anything, and their comments are funny and always fit the action on the court (I must admit I laughed when I heard one of them say ''I love seeing this guy shoot'' talking about Shawn Bradley...). They have particular comments for most of the NBA stars and they are not too repetitive compared to most other sport games in my opinion.
This is a major problem with sport games in general: they usually do not have much replay value, except if your friends are really into these games. Unless the game is really good, I usually get bored of this kind of game pretty fast. But strangely enough, this does not seem to happen with NBA2K1. There is a lot to discover in this game, and playing against the computer can be VERY challenging.
Of course, you can play a season or exhibition games and you can customize the rules to your will. The Season mode is very complete, it simulates the calendar, statistics and even the injuries. If you’re an NBA fan, the franchise mode is for you: it lets you guide your team through season after season. There are a Tourney and Practice mode as well. I would like to draw your attention on the Street mode which is very fun, too. Nothing beats playing a two-on-two game with Kevin Garnett.
For a sport game, NBA2K1 has more than decent replay value. Not to mention the online part of the game...
internet play 8
Warning: People actually use the servers for cybersex... So don't be surprised if on your first connection you see people asking you to ''describe yourself'', hehe. But there are still many people who won't back up a challenge out there, and some of them are pretty good, mind you.
I had a few problems with the online part of this game. While it is a great experience to challenge people you don't know, some of the network errors make it frustrating... But when it works, it's just great. Gotta love playing an online two-on-two or prove that the Lakers are not just all flash. If you are reading this and have the game, let me know if you want to play sometime. ^_~
Bluelight works perfectly for NBA2K1... And this consequently makes this game's replay value longer. The server’s problems are nothing as big as I was told, though. Usually, it seems it either works perfectly or not at all. But I guess I was lucky because I only got disconnected once during a game.
Buy or rent ?
As you can probably tell, I was very impressed by NBA2K1. I hesitated for a while about whether I should get this game or not, thinking this might be ''just another B-ball game''. I was so wrong... If you can pick it up for cheap, it is definitely worth it, especially if you don't have the first game. When this game goes down in price, it is going to be a must-have. For those who have the first one and are wondering if they should get this one... It's a tough choice. The online part of the game might be enough, but sadly there are problems with the servers very often, or so it seems. I personally would not recommend this game to anyone who has the first part, at least not until it goes down in price... Not because it is not a good game, but because online play only might not be worth the purchase. But then again if you are a big NBA2K fan...
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 06/27/01, Updated 02/02/03
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