Basketball, on the PC, has been dominated in recent years by EA
Sports’ NBA Live series. Earlier this year, Microsoft released NBA
Inside Drive 2000, a title that shocked many basketball fans with
it’s emphasis on solid gameplay. Now, Fox Sports Interactive has
come off the bench with their basketball title, NBA Basketball 200,
promising a game with Fox attitude.
It seems the competition for the top spot among basketball games is
heating up, so let's take a look at what Fox Sports has to offer.
NBA 2000 certainly doesn’t shine in the gameplay department. The
computer AI is one of the worst I have seen in any basketball
game so far. I found it way too easy to score on any difficulty
setting and unfortunately, so did the computer. The defenders just
stand around like lifeless dolls making dunking a regular event. I
almost felt like I was playing NBA Jam, with nearly every play
resulting in a slam-dunk. You must be thinking to yourself, "This
can't be true, there must be at least some offensive fouls called".
Sadly, offensive fouls seem to be non-existent, even if you trample
the other player while dunking. Defensive fouls are called just as
rarely as offensive fouls, even with the foul setting set on high.
From all the games I've played, I have not seen one single illegal
defense called. Maybe it’s a feature they forgot to put in? And if
all that doesn’t convince you how good this game is, it only has 4
modes of play: Exhibition Mode, Practice Mode, Season Mode and
Network. I was really disappointed that it didn't have some sort of
Internet play. Compare this to NBA Live 2000, which has 8
different modes of play, and it’s clearly a few steps behind
already. Is it fun to play though? It should be quite obvious by
now that it isn't, and the lack of challenge that the game offers is
what makes the game so boring. Scoring 130+ points in a
regulation game is the norm here in NBA 2000. I most certainly
don't want a game where you can run down the court and dunk
anytime you want. Where is the realism in that?
Not all is bad in NBA 2000. As far as I know, it's the only basketball
game that has pre-game warm-ups. Another little interesting
feature is that when you dunk and you hang on the rim for too
long, you might fall off and land on your back. Jumping and
dunking is well portrayed, with players not being able to jump
three feet above the rim. Although they used motion capture on
real basketball players, the jump shot is quite ugly. The control is
very sluggish and simplistic. You have the typical shoot/pass/fake
etc. buttons, but you can only do a few basic moves, as opposed to
NBA Live 2000, which is way more complex. You are able to do a
simple crossover and spin, which every single player in the game
can do. What is the point of having a dribble rating if every single
player can do "fancy" moves? Statistics are well kept as any
basketball game nowadays.
The graphics in the game are somewhat outdated. The blocky,
polygonal characters remind me of NBA Live 98, which in this case
is not a good thing. The floor textures are really bland and seem
to be of low quality. Fox Interactive tried to make the game look
more realistic by adding player portraits on the models, however
some players look nothing like their real life counterparts. It pails
in comparison to NBA Live 2000. The crowd animation also isn't as
fluid as in NBA Live 2000. The player introductions are probably
the best graphical feature NBA 2000 has to offer. The menu
graphics are as good as any other game, so nothing special there.
The sound is what you'd expect from any typical basketball game,
with your normal shoe skidding sounds, ball bouncing on the floor,
dunking the ball, etc. The only annoying thing I’ve noticed is the
grunt sound a player makes when he dunks the ball. The menu
music is fairly decent, although some of it sounds "hissy”. The
in-game music is similar to what they play at basketball games,
and at times adds to the authenticity of the game. The play-by-play
is done by Greg Papa and Doc Rivers, and is fairly well done. They
react well to unique situations although the variety of their
comments is quite limited. EA Sports still tops the rest of the pack
in terms of play-by-play, but NBA Basketball 2000 does a decent
Fox Interactive’s first attempt at a basketball game is not too good.
It suffers from technical flaws, outdated graphics, sloppy controls,
and lack of playing modes, making this probably the worst
basketball game to bear the year 2000 mark. If you want a real
basketball game, I’d suggest you pick up a copy of NBA Live 2000,
you won’t be disappointed. I'm afraid Fox has a lot of work to do if
they want to make the starting lineup next year.