Three NBA titles put you on the court

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

The Associated Press

For NBA fans, this is the time of the year that really matters -- the playoffs.

For NBA video game fans, this is also an excellent time. There are a number of good basketball titles on shelves right now, no matter which system you pledge your allegiance to.

Let's take a look at one for each of the current systems, and see if we can pick a winner.

Now appearing on the PlayStation 2 is Konami's version of NBA play. "NBA 2Night 2002" is a decent overall package that won't disappoint.

I found the offense to be the easiest to handle, although it can match up against the other titles, spin move for spin move. There are the key options you have to have for a complete basketball experience, including Franchise mode and create-a-player.

Graphics are good, with nicely detailed players and a great crowd. Passing is a treat; hold down the L1 button and button symbols appear over the heads of your teammates. Simply hit the button representing the player you want to get the ball and it's done.

Game play is fast and there aren't a lot of fluke steals or turnovers to tempt you to throw your controller at the wall.

Give it a B. It's a solid alternative to Sega's all-conquering "NBA 2K2."

Xbox owners should take a look at "NBA Inside Drive 2002." High Voltage Software has done a decent job of putting a solid, comprehensive package together for Microsoft's mighty machine.

"Inside Drive" offers a wide variety of options to let you make the game yours.

The arenas are good, the uniforms are excellent and only the players themselves seem a bit like they were whipped up in some science lab. The expressions are cold, like a space alien posing as human. A 6-foot-8-inch human.

Commentary by Kevin Calabro and former star Marques Johnson is adequate, although it suffers from the repetition problem. There are only so many funny things you can say about basketball before you start tripping on your tongue.

I found the shooting to be inconsistent. A shot I bagged on one trip down the floor clanked like a hammer on an anvil the next. Steals are common, traveling is a plague and that 10-point run will soon be wiped out by the console's 12-point string.

The game is also missing some of the more common sports features. No franchise mode. No make-your-own-player. On the plus side, there's a whole page in the manual given over to "dekes," those tricky moves that get a player free for a shot or a drive.

The game's biggest problem, however, is that Sega isn't hogging "NBA 2K2" for its own system anymore. The premier basketball title is available for Xbox, and if you want the best, that's it.

Not awful, not great. Give it a C+.

I tried "NBA 2K2" on Nintendo's Gamecube. Visual Concept's spectacular creation is even better than the last version, with improved ball handling, solid fundamentals and the best look yet.

I love the perspective. When you take the ball out under the opponent's basket, you can see the entire court, not just the half you're on. This opens up great opportunities for passing and dunks aplenty. You're rewarded for solid team play, but you can also shake-and-bake one-on-one, if that's your game.

Every option you can think of is included. Adjust the speed of the game, obey or ignore NBA rules, post-ups, picks, create-a-player, franchise -- it's all here.

Graphics are excellent, including the players and the arenas. There can be only one NBA champion, and there can be only one top title. "NBA 2K2" gets an A. It's simply the best.

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