Microsoft, the software giant, has just released NBA Inside Drive
2000 to further establish themselves as a strong sports game
developer. NBA Inside Drive emulates Electronic Arts’ NBA Live
series, which has been the leading series of basketball games, and
is a mix of arcade/simulation styles. Microsoft hasn’t quite pulled it
off completely, but their efforts were not fruitless as this game has
many good aspects. Microsoft has scooped up the official NBA
licensing and that is usually a good sign.
As with most sports games in the late 90’s, NBA Inside Drive has 3D
accelerator support via Direct 3D. Graphic options are
customizable for different PC’s, but the default settings will suit
most people. Upon entering the actual game, you will not be
dazzled by the graphics, but after some time you will appreciate
them. The player models are detailed, fluent and most importantly,
move realistically. The players have been modelled after real NBA
players, therefore each player has their own face on their model.
The crowds are, in fact, very impressive. As far as crowds go in
most other games, they are static. In NBA Inside Drive, they are
detailed and look as realistic as possible without slowing the game
The sound in general is acceptable and serves it's purpose to
convey the different sounds of a basketball game. The general
in-game sound effects, such as the bouncing of the ball, are about
as good as you will get. I come now to the commentary, which is
delivered by Seattle Supersonics commentator Kevin Calabro and
Marques Johnson. The play-by-play is realistic and quite diverse,
but the standard of the play-by-play does not much up to the
king-of-sports-games Electronic Arts.
NBA Inside Drive offers five different modes of play: single game,
season play, playoffs, practice and the “Tonight’s Game” section.
This apparently uses NBA schedules to bring you the game of the
day according to your computer’s date. The video intro is arbitrary
and doesn’t use adrenaline-pumping music to get one in the mood
for some fast-paced gameplay. The game menus are well
designed and easy to use, but seem to lack the originality of EA
menus. If you are unsure of a specific option, you can right-click on
it and a window will pop up giving an explanation as to avoid any
confusion. There is an abundance of options to tweak the
gameplay, rules and conditions. Difficulty settings range from
Arcade to All Star. Arcade, being the easiest, must have been
designed for five-year-olds and chimpanzees though.
As you enter the game, you are introduced to the players and the
game starts soon after. The game is technically correct in all
aspects, but it has no flair to keep one’s interest. Controlling the
players, at times, can be difficult. It is not suited to the keyboard
and I would definitely recommend the use of a game pad. For a
basketball simulation, it has the minimum amount of controls. The
default keys were slightly awkward, but this can be easily rectified.
Defence can be tricky as the computer has the inane ability to find
a gap in the defence. With sport simulations, you get all the facts
and statistics of the game. NBA Inside Drive is no exception and it
brings you statistics ranging from steals to rebounds.
Unfortunately, there are no networking options such as IPX, TCP/IP
or even modem. The only way to play against another human
player is to play on the same PC via the use of a keyboard, mouse,
joystick or game pad. This is rather disappointing, as Microsoft
could have easily implemented their Direct Play engine.
A common thread runs through the game and that is that each
aspect has been made as realistic as possible. This, in a way,
leads to its biggest downfall. The game is not altogether exciting
as it presents itself as more of a simulation. The game wears on at
a snail pace.
Overall, NBA Inside Drive 2000 is a strong, but slightly boring
game, with a few flaws. Though, I am happy to see that there will
some major competition for EA and this can only mean even better
improvements made in the basketball game field. If I had a choice,
I would still go for NBA Live 99, which is already nine or so months
old. Hopefully, in the future, Microsoft can pick up on some of EA’s