Review by Marvel Man X

"One Of The Best Basketball Games Around"

Basketball games come and go these days. Few have stood up to the NBA Live franchise, but the NBA2K series almost outperformed the Live series last year. This year's incarnation is a big improvement over last years effort. That said, this game takes NBA gaming to the next level.

Graphics

The graphics are what caught the attention of gamers in the first of the 2K series and with the 2K1 series it has started a tradition of being ahead of it's competition. One of the things that makes the graphics as great as they are is the details on the players. They have their exact tattoos just like in real life. For instance, Allen Iverson's tattoo on his neck is in the game and so is the little head with the afro on Damon Stoudmeyer's arm.

Something that was missing last year was all the player's trademark gear. This year's installment has all the trademark basketball gear. From Allen Iverson and his black finger holder to the headband of Scottie Pippen, it's all here!

One of the things you will be glad to see is that the crowd in this game has tons of reactions and is very fluid. Also, the players on the bench move just as much as the crowd, and are just as fluid. The other thing that impressed me is that the bench has polygons. Even though they don't have as much as the players or the crowd, it's still impressive to see it, since NBA2K is the only other game before NBA2K1 to do this.

Details of the basketball courts and jerseys are another thing that adds to the NBA atmosphere and it seems like Visual Concepts took note of this. They have the actual designs of both the inside and outside courts, meaning they have the details of the "Cage," which is a Street Court, and they have borders and banners in the Alamo Dome, which is an indoor court. Hell, if you take an up close look at the players jerseys you will notice that they actually have the basketball jerseys air holes in them, so seeing this impressed me and showed that Visual Concepts means business.

The graphics are not completely perfect. For starters, the player's arms are too long. In fact, they're extremely long, and sometimes stretch a little to far. You will mostly see this occurrence when you see dunks coming from places where a lot of people can't dunk from. Another problem is that the player's hair is not always accurate. While some might say this is nitpicking, when you are trying to make a simulation, you should try and make everything as perfect as you can. For instance, Gary Payton has braids in his hair, and from what I have seen in the NBA, he has only had them in his hair maybe once or twice. Another problem is that some players look a bit overweight. Guys like Ike Austin have a certain pear shape to them and seem a bit molded together, while players like Chris Webber seem larger than they should.

Sound

The sound in this game can be great because the announcers are constantly talking and hearing them will get you into the game. While it usually gets you into the game, certain times the play by play can be a bit off. This
hurts the score since your going play by play, but truly might not be going play by play since the announcers aren't calling the right things. For example, I was playing a game as the Sacramento Kings and Chris Webber had
40 points, and when Webber hit number 40, the announcer burst out and said "Adrian Griffin has hit 40 Points in the game!" Now, I was thinking where in the world did he get Adrian Griffin from, since he plays for the Boston Celtics, and I am the Kings playing against the Cavs. There is also the problem when they say the guy that is going to the foul line is somebody
else on the court when it's not actually the guy going to the free throw line. Other times the announcer will say "the team has turned-over the ball," even though you just deflected the ball and it is still actually in possession of the other team.

The on court sounds are great, from the sounds of the "switch up" (when the
opposing team tries to make a pick and your teammate thinks you won't move
fast of enough to make actual defensive stoppage, so you switch up) to the
sounds of you playing street ball, with people yelling, cars passing by, and
the loud basketball noises being made. What this does is give you the
feeling as if you where on the basketball, court inside or outside.

There's only one song in the game, and it's called "Da Goodness," which is performed by Redman and Busta Rhymes. This is why you see the Def Jam records logo on the back of the NBA2K1 CD.

Controls

I would give NBA2K1 an 'A' in the play control category, since the controls are top notch. What makes it great is the effectiveness the developers put into the controls. For instance, when you go into the post, the controls are actually tight enough to where you can either put up a hook shot, or go for a fade away jumper. The controls are also great for crossovers and spin
moves on the open floor. If your on a fast break and don't think your going to get by a defender, the controls are good enough to where a crossover will do it to get by that defender. If you think that you will charge over the defense, you can go for the lay-up or use the spin move. They're all easy to perform, but it's how you use them which will determine how effective they are.

Now, the main reason why I felt NBA Live 2000 was better than NBA2K was that the game play in NBA Live 2000 was better than NBA2K. But things have changed. To begin with, NBA2K1 has online play, a franchise mode, a season mode, a playoff mode, street ball, and all the other standard modes of a basketball game. The game itself has improved, with a new post up system, change of speed system, and other things to make the game look more like theclosest simulation of NBA basketball you will find while still having arcade elements.

For starters, you can't get 300 points a game and have players with an average of 50 points a game if you are playing on the hardest difficulty level. Now you have to earn every point you score. Unlike NBA2K, the people don't jump up every time you go for a pump fake, and this time you can't get a million blocks and a ton of steals per game. Everything you get in NBA2K1, you have to earn out there. So this means, you have to use the crossover to get free. You have to play in the paint and post-up and your defense has to be golden. Another thing is that the artificial intelligence (AI) in this game is pretty smart. They know who to feed the ball, who to let get the rebounds, and who to work the paint. Like if your playing against the 76ers, Iverson will most of the time take the most shots.

Another thing you will find out is that, 89% of the time the stats are right on the money. The high scorers will be the high scorers in the game and do best what they do best in reality. You'll also find out that all the bugs from last year have been fixed, but there are now new bugs, such as when the computer throws long passes and when you run into the player and hit the push button the ref won't call the foul. Another glitch is in the playoff bug in franchise mode. If your the number one seed and if you sweep the computer, the computer takes two of your wins.

The outside courts are just like your local hood, without the shootings, forties, and cursing. But they're are a few cons to it. Now we all know there are truly no fouls in street ball, but in a video game you need some. Now there are a few fouls on the court, for instance if you get fouled, you take that ball right back out. Well, in NBA2K1, you get free throws, a foul count, cetera if you keep fouls on, but if you turn it off you don't truly have a street game, so it really messes you up if you want to have a true life like street ball game. It really depends on what type of street ball you prefer. Hopefully, in NBA2K2 they will have it to where your setting up everything that should be in a street ball game.

The franchise mode is very in-depth. This is one feature that I am glad they borrowed from EA Sports. In franchise mode, player's skills raise while others go down during the season. Players can retire, older players play as if they are old, MVP's are made, players make the all-star teams, players have breakout season, playoff pictures change, younger teams build into a good teams and come up in the rankings, and much more is done in NBA2K1's franchise mode. This is why I feel as if NBA2K1 is one of the best basketball games of all time. It just has more realism than the rest.

Online Play is a mixed bag. It's fun the first few times you play, but most of the fun is when your playing with people you know or in a tournament. The gameplay is what makes this game so good and not online play, so don't let online play be the factor on you getting this game, because if so you will be disappointed.

* Online Play
* Street Ball
* Franchise Mode

These are 3 big factors that helps NBA2K1 become the best basketball game ever

Final Verdict

NBA2K1 is the best basketball game this season! It has all the elements of a great basketball game, and is only lacking a dunking contest and a three point shoot out. The game play is like no other, and features the best franchise mode in a console basketball game. There's always room for improvement, but as of right now NBA2K1 is the best basketball game to ever hit the shelf!


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/13/01, Updated 06/13/01


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