System: Playstation 2
Developer: Visual Concepts
Released: January 16, 2002
Genre: Sports (Football)
Capabilities: Dual Shock 2 Analog & Feedback Compatible, Memory Card Compatible, Multi-Tap compatible for up to 5 players
Review Written: February 18, 2002
Segas cross platform plan continues with the release of NBA 2K2 on Playstation 2, along with other Sega titles on PS2 like Rez, and NFL 2K2. In this release, the developers down at Visual Concepts (the same people who developed NFL 2K2), debuts their basketball line of games that was formerly exclusive to the Dreamcast for the past two years. NFL 2K2 proved a worthy conversion from Dreamcast to PS2, will NBA 2K2 continue the trend? Lets get onto the review and find out.
Just like NFL 2K2, the visuals for NBA 2K2 are top of the line, and in my opinion, better than whats on the market right now. Just hop right into one game and try to prove me wrong. You start off each game with the best player introductions than any other basketball game on the market, complete with an actual PA Announcer and fireworks. When one of the many camera angles available to you in the game zoom in on a player, youll be amazed by the amount of detail they squeeze in there. The players eyes, lips, and even tattoos match up to the real thing. Dont believe me? Take a look at a recognizable player like Shaq (he was in that Kazaam movie any ways, so he should be pretty recognizable) and then think twice. Speaking of camera angles, the games default is the overhead view, I dont prefer this angle because of the constant switching angles whenever the ball changes sides, and it can mess up game play a lot, so instead I opt for the side view, that way there is no more constant camera switching.
The game has a solid presentation. All the arenas look nearly identical to their real life counterparts. You have the bleachers filled with animated fans who waves their foamys when the visiting team goes for free throws. The outer edge of the court is filled with all the standard coaches, bench warmers, cameramen, and cheerleaders. The street courts are just as good with the street and urban surroundings capturing the feel of outside play, though at least a couple of fans in the bleachers wouldve been nice in Street Mode. The instant replays look marvelous when they get great zoom ins, and you notice things you wouldnt even dream of like teams web site addresses at the top of the backboard. The game moves at a very fast pace with barely any slowdown at all. The loading times are very nice, and are several times faster than the other games out on the market. And just like NFL 2K2, it ditched the radial menus for the cursor-oriented menus. There are a couple of flaws that happen in the graphics engine, like in Vs. play, at least a couple of times in each game where the action gets really intense, the game ball will, make an over exaggerated animation by bouncing to the top of the arena and taking forever to land.
Just like in NFL 2K2, the developers hired voice actors to do the commentary. And they really add to the presentation. They call all the plays down the line, pointing out the tiniest moves done. Also, when a certain stat pops up on the screen, theyll go about how his shooting is down or the amount of rebounds they got. The Instant Replays is where the commentators shine though, that is where theyll go on about a certain feat accomplished on the replay like a steal or assist. They do get repetitive a lot though, and I often find them miscalling some plays. Like I make my first three pointer, and they said I was sinking them all night. The sound effects for the game are right on notch, with all the bouncing, shoe squeaking, and dunks sounding the way they should. Youll notice the crowd in the game plays a vital role as well. They are usually right on cue, cheering when the home team scores, and booing when the visiting team scores. In Street mode there isnt any commentators, just the sound of cars driving by, which makes the mode seem very realistic.
The controls for the NBA 2K series are the best Ive seen since the Live series on the SNES. Like most other sports games, they are customizable, and you can assign your buttons to shoot, and pass on offense. If you wait for a teammate to wave his arms in the paint zone you can perform an alley-oop. In defense you can do all your regular moves like block and attempt to steal. The real pain in the game is now doing the free throws. To make free throws, you have two arrows which you need to line up in the middle by applying a certain amount of pressure to the analog pads. In the Dreamcast version, you did it by the amount of pressure applied to the L and R triggers, which was really easy, but its not as easy with those analog pads. I only find myself making one out of every three free throws.
There are plenty of game modes here to fill your needs. First, theres the practice mode, which is improved significantly over last years game. Before, all you could do was just walk around and only practice shooting. But now you have the option of practicing free throws (which helps out a great deal, as mentioned above how hard it is to do free throws in this version). And you can now do scrimmages, which are just going against an opponent with no scoring involved. Quick start is a mode where you automatically hop into a game with default rules and two teams randomly selected for you. This mode is great for learning the controls the first couple of times around. Exhibition is a mode I find myself playing a lot where you pick any two teams and customize the rules to your liking. Tournament mode is where you can make tree of up to eight teams compete with elimination rules. Play offs mode is the exact same way, but with the actual amount of teams in the NBA Play offs. Season mode is here where you play a full length (or short if you want to) NBA season, and then go through the NBA Play offs to win the championship. If one season isnt enough for you, do Franchise mode where you keep on playing one season after another. When one season is over, you have off season options like re signing players, going through the draft, and even retiring players.
Finally, there is Street mode, where you play on one of several the most popular street courts in the US. They added a couple of new street courts in 2K2, and also made it so where you have to play up to a certain point total. Anywhere up to 21, with one point for all baskets, and two for shots made across the three point line. I was hoping for some other bonus modes like the 3-Point Shootout or Slam Dunk contest featured in the Live series, but no such luck. Just like in last years game, you can create your own teams and players. So hopefully you can remake Jordan, since only EA wants to pay his licensing fees. All the NBA teams are in here, and there are several all star teams from the past so you can play as all the old greats like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
Up to five people can play at once with a multi player adaptor. Season and Franchise mode should keep the solo player addicted to this game for several weeks. Add all the other new modes to the game, and the excellent Create a Player and Team modes, and you should find yourself not getting bored with this game for a while.
+: Spectacular Visuals, Best Commentary of all the basketball games, Lots of modes
-: Shooting Free Throws are a pain, Lot of unexpected shifts of the ball during game play
The Final Ratings Rundown
Game play: 9.3
Replay Value: 8.5
Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 9
NBA 2K2 is a great game on the market right now. And its a good thing that Sega finally brought it over to the Playstation 2. With all the modes offered to you in this game, you have to snatch this game if youre a basketball fan, or at least give it a rent.
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