ESPN NBA Basketball - XB - Preview
E3 2002 – First Look
Sega Sports consistently focuses on two things when they ship out one of their sports titles: graphics and realism. Their titles have consistently been in the center of the ongoing best sports video games debates in the past few years. And now that they are in their second year of a partnership with ESPN, they’re quickly closing the gap (some say they’ve already passed) between themselves and EA Sports, the previously undisputed king of sports video games.
Visual Concepts has packaged NBA 2K4 to be even more realistic than last year’s NBA 2K3. The main factor? Speed. NBA 2K4 moves much faster than 2K3, adding more action to a game that is already the best basketball simulation on the market. Of course it’s not just the speed of the game that brings the action up a notch. The players this year are much more responsive and player specific, so super slasher Stephon Marbury can penetrate realistically and the lightning quick Tony Parker can go head-to-head with him on defense more responsively.
The other big addition to the NBA 2K series this year is the expanded ESPN presentation. The goal of Visual Concepts this year was to bring the element of television style presentation to the game, and they’ve done it with new camera angles, stylish wipes, and in-game stats. It won’t be surprising to see passers-by do a double-take with the new presentation.
Other improvements should further cement NBA 2K4 as the premier basketball simulation on the market. Whereas last year’s game featured thirty or so individually modeled heads for the star players, this year’s version throws mapped noggins on every player. Finally guys like Brad Miller can get their spot in the limelight along superstars like Tracy McGrady. The “progressive sweat” graphics are still there, but they still make players look like wax figurines instead of perspiring athletes. All the animations in the game have been smoothed over and improved, and the game moves along more like a real NBA game with shots being blocked from behind, more deflected passes, and more entertaining cutscenes. There are plans to incorporate a multi-player franchise mode, but the details haven’t been solidified. Both the PS2 and Xbox version will be playable on-line, complete with chat, downloadable rosters, and more.
NBA 2K4 will ship in Fall of 2003.