reviews\ Oct 21, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Sega Sports(tm) NBA 2K3 - PS2 - Review

You can’t say that Sega Sports doesn’t listen to its devoted supporters because each year they offer all the improvements sports fans have been asking for and Sega Sports NBA 2K3 is no exception.  With its introduction to the PS2 after the untimely demise of the Dreamcast, sports games got a taste of some really good basketball.  So, do you think you’re ready for the full meal?  


There are six different modes to test your skills on the court: Street, Season, Franchise, Playoffs, Tournament and Network.  Street offers up a game on the asphalt courts of Venice Beach or Franklin Park playing two-on-two down to a five-on-five game. Season takes gamers’ favorite team through an entire season while realistically throwing such things as player injuries and draft and trade deadlines. 


The Franchise mode puts you in the role of General Manager, Coach and player and lets you call all the shots from the manager’s desk to the coach’s bench.  The Playoffs takes gamers directly to the playoff, simulating a full season.  In Tournament, you can create your own single-elimination tournament featuring anywhere from four, eight or sixteen teams.  And Network, the highlight of the game, features online play.


NBA 2K3’s controls are never burdensome or irritatingly complicated and gamers familiar with this series will quickly notice the difference in the handling of the moves.  You block shots in an entirely different way and when a quick pass is made there are times when a player doesn’t quite catch a hold of it or sometimes you miss it completely and have to dive for it.  Dribbling is more fluid even when using the turbo boost.  Dunking the ball is also a lot more pleasing to the eye since the game boasts more two hundred motion capture dunks.


You can customize the game to fit your style of playing the game in any of the multiple categories available and some of them even change the game dramatically like the Crash Board option--for more aggressive rebounding--or Fast Break (moves up the pace).  The AI opponents are also challenging enough to play the offense and defense intelligently . . . and fairly since they too are realistically prone to make some boneheaded mistakes.  


As far as multiplayer games go, NBA 2K3 is a sports fan’s ultimate dream come true.  Not only can up to eight players (using the much appreciated Multitap) play through the various game modes but the game also supports the PS2 Network Adaptor so you can take on a whole new group of online basketball players from all over the country.  You can even download extras or post your personal stats to win “prizes” or just to show off.  With so many different multiplayer options, it’ll be hard to get bored of this game.


Graphics-wise the game has been noticeable improved from the last year’s game.  While NBA 2K2 featured some really sharp looking graphics with recognizable pros, 2K3 just piles on the wonderful details such as glistening sweat on the player’s skin and better facial details on the faces of star athletes such as Allen Iverson.  This version also handles player contact much more realistically, especially when it comes to collisions.


Joining the graphics with its added details is the sound, which benefits from the ESPN presentation design.  The game feels and sounds like a televised event with its spot-on play-by-play commentary by Rod Brooks and Bob Fitzgerald and background noises that include the muffled voices of fans or other players cheering their teammates on while on the bleachers.  The other sounds, such as the PA announcers hasn’t really changed . . . then again, why mess with perfection. 


Sega Sports has done it again and has brought sports fans a basketball title they can really sink their teeth into.  With online capabilities, this is the ultimate Must-Have game well worth the price of admission. 


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 8.7
Control-wise nothing has really changed, although now there are a collection of new slam dunks so the same dunk isn’t repeated over and over again.  Getting all the moves down to an art requires gamers to experiment with the controls since something as simple as a lay-up requires you to push two different buttons at once.  


One of NBA 2K3’s best features is the ability to control pass types and even the direction.  You can bounce a low pass or fake a pass--throwing off your opponent.  Crossovers and spin moves have been redesigned so more fluid moves are available to you.  All in all, this is a game that gives gamers full control of the game.  


Graphics: 8.6
Basketball games do not get any more good-looking than this game and the highly detailed players look amazing as they fluidly perform intricate moves and physically touch the rim (a noticeable glitch in last years game).  There are a number of details that are just way too satisfying to point out such as the scrupulous physical details of star players like Kobe Bryant’s new short-cropped haircut or Allen Iverson’s carefully braided do.


Sound: 9.1
NBA 2K3 also excels in the sound department with it’s excellent play-by-play that does a good job of keeping up with the game in progress.  It’s great hearing Rod Brooks and Bob Fitzgerald calling the plays . . . although the banter is never really colorful nor playful, but it does point out defensive mistakes that are useful.


The ambiance sound is among the best I’ve heard in a long time and you can hear everything from the stomping of feet to distract the opposing team during a free throw or the PA system playing snippets of inspirational tunes to pump up the crowds.  And dribbling the ball produces that oh-so sweet sound against the hardwood floor of the arena. 


Difficulty: Medium
The AI of the opposing team is a lot smarter and can put up quite a fight when it comes to offensive plays.  Depending on the difficulty level you choose (Rookie, Pro and All Star) or the customizable settings you fitted the game with, this is one challenging game.  Fail to devise a reasonable strategy or lag behind in your defense and the other team will be all over you.


Concept: 9.5
Thanks to ESPN’s Sports Center style presentation, NBA 2K3 looks and feels like an authentic televised game complete with weekly wrap-ups and season-ender awards like MVP or Rookie of the Year.  And once again the Create A Player option offers plenty of unique designing details with everything from ear size to arm tattoos so you can create a pretty bizarre-looking team.


The Franchise mode is also, by far, the most in-depth franchise mode presented in a basketball title.  Other games such as NBA Live 2003 or NBA Inside Drive 2002 hardly touch the number of options and control that this game has.


Multiplayer: 8.9
This is what multiplayer hoop dreams are made of . . . a multiplayer mode for up to eight players (oh that beautiful Multitap).  You can play through a number of game modes with a group of friends and even things out by playing a four-on-four game or customizing the game to fit the number of gamers playing at once.  Talk about multiplayer heaven!


Yet the main multiplayer feature is the option to play online using the PS2 Network Adaptor. The modes are somewhat limited to an exhibition game but that’s really not bad at all. Surprisingly, the game runs smoothly on both broadband and dial-up and the game allows up to anywhere from two to ten players.  You can download some sweet extras (like updated rosters to keep up with the current NBA season) and even post your stats as well as review those of other players.      


Overall: 8.9
Basketball doesn’t get any better than this and with plenty of game modes, including online play, Sega Sports NBA 2K3 is sure to be a favorite among sports gamers everywhere.  Be sure to pick this one up, you won’t regret it.  


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