I must start off saying that the sports genre of video games is my forte`. That's what keeps me coming back year after year... all the other games are just fillers until the next version of my favorite sports game comes out.
I also have a weird thing about not being able to play a sports game if it is not currently "in season". NBA2K3 is an exception right now, since it... for once, came out before the current season.
I have read all the previews of this game coming up, and was expecting the end all be all of console basketball... unfortunately, it comes up short in areas that should have been fixed in last years terrific game.
The presentation is great, and uses its ESPN license to the fullest. The menus are easy to navigate, and seem familiar... if you've been playing NFL2K3, you should feel at home.
Enough of that, let's get to the meat... the game. Graphics are a little sharper than last year, but very similar. While the faces are good, most are not as recognizable as you may have read. It looks like they made an effort with the big "stars" with the rest of the league looking just like last year... coaches look the exact same. The new "replay" feature sucks in my opinion and I turned it off. It colors the guy you made the basket with, and everything else is in black and white, or sometimes pastels. The new "sweat" feature is barely noticeable, but you can see it some, and we you DO see it, it looks pretty good. The crowd is rendered in polygons, which I hope does not take more "juice" than it should from the rest of the game, if you know what I mean. (okay, I'll say it... I have seen some slowdown in the game... usually it happens right after the replay).
There are some different controls... the pivot button, which is basically a "let the other team automatically steal the ball from you" button, and passing with the right analog stick. Here lies my big beef with the game... last year there was a problem being able to pass to who you wanted to at times, but not a huge issue... well NOW it IS. I could only pass to whom I wanted in 2K3 about 50% of the time, and when they do pass it, it may be a lob or a bounce pass... obviously it should matter which, but you seem to have limited control. It is supposed to be pressure sensitive I would imagine... but it's not as far as I can tell. Another problem with the passing is how your guys react to a pass... the STOP where ever they are to catch the pass... I have yet to get a fast break... you can not "lead" your players like you should be able to. You can try to use icon passing if you have quick fingers, but I can't do it, myself...
My wife pointed out that everything looks less "natural" as well. Though there are some great new moves and shots, and individually they look great, the transition animation can get a little jerky.
As far a stats and franchise type info... you're in heaven. It clean, it's nice and it leaves it up to you. You could easily similate all the games and just be a GM if you wanted.
There are other little things. You can no longer "face up" a guy that is out of bounds... I have no ideas why they would change that. Rebounds have a COMPLETELY different timing than last year, and take insane bounces at time. There is also a thing that your defense pulls their hands back from the rim, as if scared of goaltending... it seems to look more like their scared of rebounding at times.
Sound is the same... HOWEVER... you'll hear a sound that sounds like popcorn popping in the background, and you'll swear it's your sound.... but it the players shoes hitting the wooden floors, and it's annoying if you have a good sound system.
I know this review is mostly negative, but I was a little disappointed (too much hype?). The passing is very frustrating (wait until your teams bobbles passes OVER and OVER), and I think that is VERY important. The slides don't help that as far as I can see.
The ONLY reason I won't go back to 2K2 is the presentation, the updated rosters... and the most important... 2K3 is going to be on LIVE.
On a 1 to 10 scale, I'd give it a 7.3
NBA2K2 last year I would give a 8.9 (just because it was SO much better than anything else out there).
I'm not saying steer clear of the game... just putting out my thoughts.
Enough of that...
Just a small thing about Colin McRae 3.... I played a demo of it tonight and I think is an outstanding game!!! I can't WAIT for the full version!