NBA Basketball 2000
Windows - 1999
Description of NBA Basketball 2000 Windows
A Formidable Task
NBA Basketball 2000 is the latest in FOX's series of sports games. Up against the highly enjoyable NBA Live 2000 and the simtastic NBA Inside Drive, this game has got its work cut out for it.
I'll begin with the good news. An NBA license is essential for any basketball title. The world's greatest basketball association, featuring the best players and the most money, the NBA is simply the best known league around the world, from Singapore to Seattle. FOX has gotten all 33 teams (if you're still counting the Bulls as a team, that is) and the rosters seem to be pretty up-to-date. Gameplay choices are many, from a friendly exhibition to running through the entire 82-game regular season, possibly followed by playoff matches. Missing is a one-on-one playground feature such as that present in NBA Live 2000, but the reason for this is obvious once you get to the gameplay.
That takes us to the bad news. Since NBA Basketball 2000 is (ostensibly) about basketball, that's where the game either fails or succeeds. And in this case there is little doubt. While there are plenty of moves to program into your controller and while the ball physics seem okay, the game as a whole suffers because of virtually non-existent defense. It is far too easy to slam the ball home from close range. With a few passes, a sprint, and a fake, you are through the defense nine times out of ten for a lay-up or dunk. The ease with which you can do this means that the added risk of a jump-shot or a three-point attempt is too big compared to the two-pointer that you can slam home each and every time. Naturally, three-pointers are in basketball for a reason, and the exclusion of them as a viable play alternative is one of the biggest possible failures of a basketball game. Since the AI doesn't seem to realize that it could constantly run past the defense, it misses the occasional three- or two-point jumper, which in effect decides the outcome of the game since you can score almost at will.
In my only second game of NBA Basketball 2000, I was able to beat the Bulls with the Knicks on the hardest difficulty setting. Granted, the Knicks are good and the Bulls speak for themselves, being 1-12 at the time of writing, but it only took a few minutes to imagine how a 20-game season would pan out. With no real challenge, getting through such a season would be work rather than play. I have a tough time just sitting through those ridiculous 300-point NBA All-Star games each winter; I find it virtually impossible to play through a couple dozen similar contests.
The graphics we see in NBA Basketball 2000 are good and on par with the rest of the genre. There are some nice sequences ahead of each game as the home team is presented and celebrated and the rest of the game is very much like what we see in other basketball titles. NBA Live 2000 seems to have slightly better graphics for the individual player, and Inside Drive might possess smoother animation, but, unlike the above, none of this is an obstacle to enjoying the game.
There are some very nice animations for dunking, slamming, and whatever. Sometimes the game will switch to a replay of the crucial play and hit you with some appropriate sounds. It's flashy and nice, if the commentators would only shut up. They tend to repeat themselves and even if they don't make that many big mistakes, they do get annoying when presenting the same ridiculous FOX Fact of the Game for the nineteenth time. The idea of having the commentators discuss one of the players or some interesting statistics is great, but the variation is not enough for even 15 games.
At the FOX Sports Interactive message board for this game, I found the following introduction: "With 33 teams and 340 players, the best graphics ever, FOX announcers and FOX attitude, this is the best hoops video game ever made. Now here's your chance to voice your opinion on the game. But we already know it's awesome." Those are FOX's words, definitely not mine. The bottom line is pretty simple. No sports game is better than the actual gameplay and in NBA Basketball 2000, it is too easy and unbalanced. While the surroundings are good, with graphics and sound that can measure up to the competition, it's just no fun to look at pretty pictures of basketball while you play a game without any real challenge to it. NBA Inside Drive and NBA Live 2000 are both a whole lot better than FOX's meagre attempt at NBA basketball.
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