Review by Menji
"ESPN Dribbles, Isos, and lay-ins the ball for a solid game"
ESPN Basketball has gotta be one of the most complete hoops games available. I waited to write the review after I played the new 2K5 version and still prefer this over the 2K5 version. Back to the 2K4 version, you can do almost everything in a real game in this game. I'll explain the good aspects later but now I'll state the few problems that stop this from achieving greatness.
What they did wrong:
Blocking a shot is extremely easy in this game, if timed right a 6' guy could block a 7' in a game, untrue in real life. High three point shooters can somehow make crazy turn around fade away jumpers and swish right through. Which brings me to another point, one of the funnest things to do in a basketball game is to shoot a half court shot at the buzzer to gain a little extra help going into the next quarter. I have found that it is physically impossible to make a half court or further shot, even with a three point shooter and going into game sliders and moving three pointer all the way up, which takes a lot of the fun out of the game.
They also left some key components out of the game; Michael Jordan, Charles Barkely, and Dennis Rodman are nowhere to be found. They included the Bobcats as a team but you can't change the roster to what it should be. And created players names aren't spoken. There are other 2004 titles that can say created players names, I.E Madden 2004. I also wish there was a three point contest and a much better play calling system. But the worst thing that I wish that would be fixed is the fact that it is impossible to be wide open without crossing them over. For example, your guy can be double teamed at the three point line and you pass it to the guy that is open right under the basket, I've had this happen to me where I got the ball and shot it and the guy that should've been guarding me came from the three point line and swatted me.
The overall gameplay is quite good, basket shots look great and their are endless ways to do lay-ups and dunks, I recently witnessed the skill of a lay-up you can do at 100 rating. It was a 360 behind the back lay-up with an and-1. The difficulty take some getting used to, but once you can it gets quite easy to blow out the CPu by 60 points on superstar difficulty. So I spend 30 years in franchise getting 100% unlockables and find out there's a glitch that doesn't let you unlock Hall of Fame difficulty. One of the biggest problems was explaining the game, I had the game for a year until I found out you could make a player outside of 24/7 and change the rosters. Once I figured that out I thought why do I need 2K5 now? You can unlock and whole lot of cool stuff including music which is the best basketball music I've heard. You can unlock a whole lot of jersey's from the olden days but the ones that are missing are the rockets old ones, you can only play in the red ones.
Graphic wise, they're the basketball ones to date; except for 2K5. Live might have the dunk contest but ESPN kills it with the graphics. Faces look exactly like the real players, you can tell who they are without even seeing them in a jersey. Facial animation really reflects what emotion they are showing, would it be disappointment or anger you know what happened right before.
The music in the game is great, the songs are true street ball songs and you'll get them stuck in your head after the first few games. Commentary gets repetitive after a short time but the sayings are that good it doesn't even matter. You can change which voices are heard the loudest; would it be the crowd chanting, the announcers, the coach or other sounds in a game. This game as the perfect sounding.
I still play this game over GTA: San Andreas, this is a great hoops game that will keep you playing for well over a year. This is a great multiplayer game and can have some crazy ending outcomes.
This is one of the best Basketball games on the market, I recommend it to anyone that sees it for under $20. Since the new 2K5 is out priced at $20. It's fun to play for the 2003 roster, check it out if you can!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/20/04, Updated 07/16/06
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