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NBA Basketball 2000 (PC) Review

Publisher: Fox Sports
Release Date: November 1999

Background Info

Many fans were disappointed last year when they heard that Disney discontinued their relationship with Radical Entertainment, thus no longer publishing the basketball game that was originally to ship last fall. A few months later, Fox Sports announced that they would be publishing Radical Entertainment's basketball game. Basketball gamers in need of a change, who had only experienced the NBA Live games, were ecstatic. Radical Entertainment has had over a year to develop Fox's NBA Basketball 2000. How did they fare? Read on.

Presentation/Graphics : 80
The graphics in NBA Basketball 2000 are not that bad. They are crisp and very sharp. All of the lines on the court are smooth as silk. The crowd graphics look a lot better than the crowds we usually see in sports games. They aren't just a blur of dots. You can actually see their figures, even though their heads are little blurs. The crowd does clap every now and then. Nice touch.

The frame rates are more than respectful. The pre-game introductions are well done. Although there is no facial expression, the players' faces are realistic. It is kind of odd to see a player always smiling but that isn't too important. All the jerseys are done correctly as expected. The game has six camera views, along with an adjustable zoom level, which is a plus.

Presentation/Audio : 70
The team of Doc Rivers and Greg Papa do a pretty good job broadcasting. The two guys sound as though they are in to the game. The only downside is that the play-by-play is very limited. Often doing a possession, the guys will be silent until someone scores or a turnover occurs. The stadium announcer also did a good job with the names and the calls. The sound effects are as real as it comes. Everything from a 'sweak' to a 'clank' makes you believe you are watching real basketball.

There isn't much music in the game. Not a big deal for me. It appears Fox's main focus was the gameplay, which means they intended for you to be playing the game the majority of the time, and not spend time in the menus.

Interface/Options : 83
The menu layout design is clear and easy to navigate. No unnecessary artwork to slow down the transition load time. The options are easy to find, saving a lot of time. Users are allowed to control more than one team throughout the season.

The controls in the game can be reconfigured. However, whatever you use for shoot has to be the same as jump. NBA Basketball 2000 also has direct pass or icon passing, similar to the feature in EA's NBA Live 99. Users can also bring up four plays by holding down one of the buttons and pressing the corresponding direction.

The modes of play available are: Practice, Season, Play-offs, and Network. Very limited in variety of gameplay. The practice mode is a 1 on 1 or 1 on 0 type deal. If there is no second human opponent, you will be the only one on the court.

There is no trading engine in the game. That means you can trade David Robinson for Billy Owens. Not too enticing, I might say, as it provides no challenge. The game does feature injuries, which is good. But the thing is if a player will be out for say 10 days, there is no way of putting him on any sort of injured reserve roster and pick up someone else for the next 10 days.

NBA Basketball 2000 includes a nice feature in the simulation engine. If you select 8 minute quarters, the scores around the league will reflect that. There is a catch-22 to this though. If you plan on playing all 82 games in the season, you will not get realistic scores. Your team's stats will be inflated. I don't know why this occurs with all the basketball games out there.

The statistics in the game needs a lot of improvement. First of all, Fox did not have the sense to include the Points Per Game, Rebounds Per Game or any Per game stats in your team's player stats screen. The game just has the total points, rebounds, etc... What were they thinking?!? Also, when viewing league leaders, you can only view the top ten players in each area. EA was allowing users to view at least the top 1000 by NBA Live 97.

The simulation engine seems a little off as well. I simulated a couple of seasons with 12 minute quarters, and noticed the majority of the time, the league's leading scorer will not average more than 25 points a game. That is actually pretty close but I believe most of the time we have a few guys averaging 27 or 28 points a game in the NBA. The assist is a little off as well. No one averages more than eight assists a game in the seasons I simulated. The surprising assist average was for the Jazz's John Stockton. I will admit I am no Jazz fan, but he was averaging between six to seven assists in the game. That is ridiculous. I know he is aging but he has been averaging around 9-10 assists a game the past 12+ seasons. Other than that, the game seems to do a pretty good job with the statistic accuracy. The twin towers of Robinson and Duncan are often in the top 10 in rebounding. Barros, Kerr and Ellis are among the leaders in 3-point percentage, as they should be.

Surprisingly, NBA Basketball 2000 only has two awards: the MVP and the Sixth Man award. True, awards don't affect the game much, but would have been a little more realistic with a few more awards and recognition such as the 1st All Defensive team, Rookie of the Year, etc...

Gameplay : 75
The game speed in Fox's NBA Basketball 2000 is not as fast paced as the previous installments of the EA NBA Live series. Some might think this is a good thing, while some will feel the game is too slow. I personally love the speed of the game. This prevents players from going up and down the floor and scoring in three seconds. Fox should have included some sort of option where you can adjust the gameplay speed to meet the preferences of a particular gamer. The speed allows you to work for a good shot, provided you don't just go to the hoop every time and dunk.

The gameplay does give a realistic feel for the game of basketball, with the absence of any sort of post-up move or move to defend against the computer's ball handler. You can feel the difference in speed when you are controlling someone like Shaq and then switch to a Kobe Bryant type of player.

One more realistic characteristic of the game is the turnovers that occur when you attempt a long distance pass. This is a very good feature. Too bad this mainly affects the human opponent.

Rebounding is pretty bad in the game. Seems like you have a worse chance of ending up with the ball if you go up in the air after the ball instead of just staying on the ground and getting under the ball.

The AI is even worse in the game. Even on the highest difficulty time management is nonexistent in the game. In the NBA, players usually are instructed to hold for the last shot with less than 24 seconds left in the quarter. In the game, the players will just launch it whenever they feel like it. To further show the 'dumbness' of the AI, when trailing late in the game by a few points, the AI will not only take their time for a shot, but will try to go for a two-pointer when they need a three. The computer will also not foul you if you are ahead. You can just stand there and they will try to steal but they won't intentionally foul you. The computer also has a hard time finding the open man. You can often leave your responsibility without worrying about being beaten by your man.

It is way too easy to score near the basket since blocks come as infrequently as Richard Simmons wearing long pants. As a result, Bison Dele of the Pistons took 19 shots in the paint; made 15 and made ended up with 30 points. I also got the feeling that making a 3-pointer was near impossible. I was 1 for 20 in the game with the Lakers. Glen Rice shot a dismal 0 for 12 in 3-pointers in the game. Shooting a jumpshot inside the 3-point line produces close to realistic results. Also, the computer seemed to have an advantage in steals. A pretty big advantage. Most of the time, a 3 to 1 advantage.

The game has some interesting Fox Sports touches that are really nice. With the game coming down to the wire, the date and who your next opponent is flashes onto the screen.

Replay Value : 80
NBA Basketball 2000 should keep you busy for maybe ten games or so. The AI takes a lot away from the game. You can dunk on just about every play without worrying about its getting blocked. There simply isn't enough variety in the features to keep playing the game. NBA Basketball 2000 has nothing distinctive in the game that will entice gamers to enjoy the game.

Overall : 75
Anyone looking for a change of pace in PC basketball gaming (i.e. Anything but NBA Live), NBA Basketball 2000 should be the second choice behind NBA Inside Drive 2000. If you absolutely need two basketball games and don't want an EA Sports game, NBA Basketball 2000 will be your only choice. The speed of the gameplay should appeal to the people sick of the fast paced NBA Live games.

I wonder what Radical Entertainment was doing the past two years when it was developing the game? NBA Basketball 2000's gameplay is a little behind Microsoft's NBA Inside Drive 2000, but the AI is years behind. Fox's game also does not even come close to NBA Live's numerous options and features. The presentation of the game does not surpass the other basketball games out there on the market. What does NBA Basketball 2000 have? Not much besides the playable speed of the game.

By: James C. 11/5/99

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