Review by Gruel

""Believe in yourselvef, Believe in yourself!""

The Game

Sega Sports and Visual Concepts are together again for another round of basketball, and again, with no competition at all. EA Sports doesn't want to have it's famous NBA Live series here, and neither do any of the other 3rd Parties. Last year's game was so acclaimed, that it and NFL 2K went down as some of the most realistic console sports games ever. So will Sega deliver another smash hit? Let's get onto the review and find out.

Graphics

Visual Concepts outdid themselves once again. All the players look exactly like their real life counterparts, in terms of size, tatoos, and the tiniest of face details, from the eyes to the goggles they wear. These sizes of the players effect there playing abilities too, like a midget on the court can't dunk, and a really tall man like David Robinson and Shaq can seldom make 3-pointers. Everything on the court is super realistic too, to the hard wood floors, and to the backboards, where you can find a url to the teams web site at the top of the back boards from certain angles of action replays. The coaches also do some really cool animations, like raising there hands whenever you make a field goal or 3-Pointer. The players on the bench look a lot better than last year. The arenas look great too, the audience are the same, great, animated sprites from last year. You can make out other little things like the score board, and shot clock, and even fans wave foam sticks to distract the visiting team from shooting free throws, really impressive. The action replays are back, and seen from several different angles, all which look great and just like off tv.

I really love how the new street courts look. These courts are actually based off real life street courts. There's four different courts here, most of which are black top or pavement courts. You'll notice how most of the courts are caged, and all the surrounding like the skyscrapers, and side streets and playgrounds. Now add on a tv camera angle, and you'll get a true feel for street B-ball. There's plenty of overlays of stats during game play which pop up usually after each basket, or rebound indicating key strengths and weaknesses of your team. Nobody seems to notice this, but your VMU keeps track of what's going on during the games, putting up occasional, ''Splash'' or ''Dunk'' messages on there when you nail baskets. Everything moves at a fluid rate, but I do notice an occasional skip here or there. The only thing with this year's version I don't like, is the opening FMV, which is just random footage of real life NBA action with rants from the commentators.

Sound

Let's start off with the most important aspect of the audio in this game, the commentary. We got the same commentating team from last year, and they call the action right down the line. Oh, and if you didn't know yet, these guys are hired voice actors, who portray basketball commentators, and actually sound like the real thing and you'll be surprised by the amount of stuff that spews out of there mouths without repeating, because these hosts have spent days on in recording studios making sure we get the most accurate play by play ever, unlike in most other basketball games like NBA Shootout, and NBA Live, where the hired pro commentators, only spend a few hours in recording studios, getting barely enough commentary in, and sound pretty repetitive. Now the commentary is only about 75% of the sound here. You also here the PA announcer doing great player introductions and play-by-play as well. Also the background music you hear during menu navigation is here, and it's a pretty nice sports tune, but for some odd reason, I like last year's one better. The rest of the sound is player and coach chatter, an innovation in basketball games that no other series has attempted. I really like how you hear the players trash talk to each other, and how much you want to kill your coaches when you're losing badly and they say, ''Believe in yourselves, Believe in yourselves!'' Of course, if you don't like player chatter then you can simply dim it, or mute it out completely. You hear little clips of famous music tunes playing over the PA throughout the game. And on the final note, I really like how the sound is pulled off playing Street mode, where there is no commentary, PA announcer, or music at all. Just player chatter, and comments from the few watching the game, which gives a surprisingly realistic feel. Great effort on the sound here.

Game play

The game controls exactly the same as it does last year. On offense, you pass, shoot, or do a special type of dribble by pressing B, and can call plays. On defense, you can steal, block, and call plays, there are also other special moves you can do during plays like alley-oops and whatnot. The same, innovative, free throw system is back. While some may not like this feature, I applaud it. You shoot free throws by lining up two arrows over the basket by holding the shoulder triggers. The lower your free throw attributes are, the more pressure sensitive the triggers are. The only problem with the controls, is that shooting is really a pain, I know the game goes by the attributes of the players, but it's just painful watching an unblocked player missing the easiest shot just a few measly feet away from the basket.

The game comes loaded with modes. I'll refresh you with the returning modes of the games, which are exhibition, which is a customizable game between any two teams of the NBA, or several all star teams of the past using real past favorites, like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and other greats. Next, there is practice, where 5 players practice moves on the court for an unlimited amount of time. The basic tournament mode is here, where odds of 4 teams compete in a playoff like bracket to determine the king of the mountain. And the last of our usual modes we have Playoffs and Season modes. Which are completely customizable by selecting how many games are in each playoff or season. You can keep tabs on all the stats and injuries during these times also. All the same customizable features are back to, like creating players, teams, line ups, and plays. You can also do all the regular stuff like trade players and create free agents. Though one odd occurrence is every time after I create players for a team, they always are in there ''reserved'' section. I go and change and make them active and put them in the starting line ups, and save the changes I made, and it seems to be all fine. But every time I turn the power on, the line ups were back to the way they once were before I changed them, so I had to go over them again and redo all the changes. A big pain.

For the new modes of the game, we first got, Franchise Mode, where you are the coach and go through the NBA season, one after another, and make cuts, sign new players, resign old players, go through the draft, and go through the happenings of the news in the NBA while playing your season. The only bad thing about Franchise, is that you can't customize how long each season is. So you have to play each season at a full 86 games. Our next new mode, is the street mode, first seen in NBA Live last year. You pick from one of 4 popular USA street courts, and you play either 5-on-5, 4-on-4, 3-on-3, or give it a Jam feel with 2-on-2 action. You have no NBA rules here whatsoever, except for out of bounds, and there's lots of shoving and cheap shots coming in all the time, even by the computer, and all the teams have generic uniforms on too. And like I mentioned before, there's no player intros, commentary, PA announcer, or music. Just sound effects and player chatter, so you have one of the most realistic feel of basket ball ever. And the last new mode for this game is the network online play! Where up to 8 players can play at once through 2 Dreamcasts. Now I played about 7 games online, and the experience isn't as good as NFL 2K1 is. Only about 2 of those games I played where there was just bits of lag here and there, but for the other 5, lag was quite present, but not a major factor in the game, but sure was noticeable, and caused quite a few missed shots and moves. Every time you try to do a certain move in the game like attempting to steal or block, it takes about a half to a full second to pull it off on average, maybe 1/4 of a second if you're on a great connection. So just make sure to keep track of the latency bars next to the users when you challenge a person to play in the lobby.

Replay Value

The game is compatible with just about every single Dreamcast accessory you can imagine, except the Light Gun of course. Let's go down the row of compatible stuff. We got the standard VMU and Jump Pak Support, plus bonus 4x VMU compatible, we also got VGA cord compatible so we can use the high resolution of a computer monitor as our television screen. And finally it makes use of the modem to go online, and we can use the keyboard to type messages during online games, and enter the names of players and plays during customization screens. Also with up to 8 people playing, your friends will make lots of use out of this game. If you're by yourself, have a blast going through tournaments, playoffs, seasons, or the Franchise, or go against millions of people online. This game you'll have loads of stuff to do with until next year's version.

In Brief

+: The best visuals and commentary in any console basketball game to date, 3 brand new modes, actual players from the past are here all the back from the 50's

-: Game might skip here or there, hard to get shooting down, game doesn't keep track of line up changes

The Final Ratings Rundown

Graphics: 9.8
Sound: 9.7
Game play: 9.0
Replay Value: 9.4

Overall: 9.4

Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 9

Comments

This game is just unbelievable. In the past, it was impossible to do actual simulations of basketball games on the Playstation and N64, now the Dreamcast has changed all that. This is the most realistic basketball games ever, and ten times as better than last year's game! This just isn't a roster update folks. All the greats are back, plus new Street, Franchise, and the addition of online play makes this one sequel to buy!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/27/00, Updated 12/27/00


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