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NBA 2K1 (DC) Review

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The past year in videogame sports has been a revolutionary one. With the Dreamcast pumping out one great title after another, (excluding baseball) there has been no better time to be alive. Last year's NBA2K was part of that euphoric experience and this year's NBA2K1 just raises the level even more by straightening out any small glitches that NBA2K had. Do you remember those whole court, out of bounds passes you had no control over? They're gone. What about when your Center would have to come all the way back from mid-court just to in-bounds the ball? That's gone too. That was some controller-smashing stuff, wasn't it? Well, I hate to say it but there are a couple of new and improved glitches that have cropped up, but only one of them is worthy of a good controller smashing. We'll talk about those later. Let's move on to the good stuff.

Presentation/Graphics : 95
Graphically there's no better game of basketball on the planet unless you went to a real game in person and still then you would have to sit in the lower prom level to equal NBA2K1. This year's game boasts an even higher polygon count than last year's, making for more realistic in-game player models. The athletes' skin textures are even smoother looking and more lifelike than before. Players also have all of their tattoos in the right places. You can't forget about those. Iverson might lose all of his personality without them and start playing like a fourth grade girl. One thing that doesn't seem to be as good as last year's game is the players' face models. They still look as real as ever, but not all players resemble their real life counterpart. That's O.K. though, because I usually skip the player intros anyway and that's where it's really noticeable.

Mr. Clean is back with a fresh coat of floor wax. Players shine like new on the hardwood with great reflections and a crystal clear gaming environment from backboard to backboard. There's also great new dunk animations. They're even more electrifying with backboard shaking, and rim hanging galore. New between-the-legs and behind-the-back slams are outstanding. Not only have more dunks been included, but also more interactive players. They hi-five more, chest-bump, and do a lot of self-promoting after a shot or timeout.

Presentation/Audio : 89
Sega has really done a good job in every aspect of the audio department. Dunks sound powerful and so do the bending of the breakaway rims. Players even talk a little trash to each other. "No, you shut-up Ewing or I'll wrap my paws around your throat." Yep, that's what I overheard Sprewell say to him. Well, maybe he didn't exactly say that. I could have been mistaken. You've got some great extras thrown in there too. Any special move like spins or backing opponents down in the paint will initiate a groan or a gasp from the player. Now the most impressive sounds came from the new "street" portion of the game. Here, players are balling on outdoor courts and instead of your sneakers squeaking, they make a sliding sound. Also you can hear cars going down the street and honking. Players on the sideline are even cheering you on. Sega really did a good job in giving you the feeling of playing outdoors. It's very impressive. The fake announcers in the game are O.K. I don't hate them, but I don't particularly like them that much either. They're a little bland, and could use a good diet pill to get them going. Maybe next year Sega will get some new guys or even bring in some real announcers.

Interface/Options : 96
Sega has added some great new stuff to this year's title. In addition to your normal, exhibition, season and new franchise mode, you have a street mode. Games on the street will all be on real different outdoor courts. Some of them are The Cage in New York, Franklin Park in Chicago, and Holcombe Rucker Memorial Park. They all look unique and really capture the essence of outdoor play. You can use any team you want and play a game of 5 on 5, all the way down to 2 on 2. Players aren't in their team uniforms either, but plain tank tops, and K-mart looking shorts. Yeah! Online play has made it to NBA2K1 and it's chockfull o' fun. NFL2K1 turned me off to the online experience a little because of all the crappy cheating going on. Teams calling the same damn play over and over in hurry up mode, so you can't call a different defense became a drag. There's no cheating in NBA2K1, just a plain old good time. I have played about a dozen games and all of them had moments of lag, but always picked back up to normal speed. You can even play online games in street mode.

All-new player updates have been added, along with 6 new teams. They are the All-Star teams of the East and West 50's/60's, 70's and 80's. Great old players like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and who can forget the big man Sikma, have all been thrown in there. Gee-Whiz, Golly, I feel like a kid again when I'm playing with these teams and seeing all those Afros. "Mom can I have Dr. J vs. Larry Bird for my Atari 7800 for Christmas, please. I'll clean my room for the rest of my life." One gripe I had about last year's game was that I could never quite get the camera angle the way I liked. This year's game has a dump load more angles to choose from. The zoom and height are adjustable from 1 to 10 and really make it easy to find the view you like best. T.V. view also has a new feature and that's a super up close shot of a low post battle. When you pass it in to your big man and he starts backing down his opponent, the camera will zoom really close on the match-up. It's cool looking, but when you're on offense you can't spot an open man to pass to and on defense it's hard to bring over any weak-side help. It's just something fun to try out every now and then.

Gameplay : 93
Don't you wish that you could pull off a wicked 360 spin around a defender and then dunk in someone's face? With NBA2K1 you can do that and a whole lot more. There are crossovers, stutter-steps, and pump-fakes for starters. Dunks galore litter the court like the all-new between-the-legs, tomahawk jam. Then you can move down to the new and improved low-post game. You're able to sky hook, shoot left, shoot right, and fade away--all this right after you've backed down your opponent's big man in the paint. Speaking of backing down, forget about it if you think that someone like Rick Fox can back down Karl Malone. He wouldn't even be able to move him an inch. Also you're not going to have Travis Best stealing the ball from Gary Payton either. Everything's dead on this year, making for very lifelike stats. You're not going to have a dozen blocks with Shaq. What makes all this even better is the higher frame-rates and animation that's as smooth as Kevin Garnett's head.

You had better keep your brain in the game this go-round. If you lose concentration for just one second, your opponent will blow right by you for an easy two. Also blocks are a lot harder to come by this year and you will rarely see a shorter opponent block a taller opponent's shot like in last year's version. By the way, there's a new twist added into the shot-blocking feature. If you use the speed trigger button simultaneously with the block button, you will get a more forceful block. One very bad glitch that I mentioned in the intro is in this new feature. If you do happen to pull off one of these new high-powered blocks, you will send it skyrocketing out of bounds about 90 percent of the time. Also, if you get help and one of your computer controlled teammates blocks a shot, it's definitely going out of bounds. This is very frustrating and I'm down to my last good controller. I've already sent the bill to Sega for my first two.

Replay Value : 98
This is probably the most improved category over last year's game. There's replay value galore with the advent of online play. Especially since you can use the street courts in a 2 on 2 battle against some freak halfway across the country. What also helps out is the new throwback All-Star teams. I find myself playing more with those old guys than the regular teams. A new Franchise mode has been added so you can play multiple seasons, and acquire rookies through a draft. Finally there's always the 2-player, kick the crap out of your friend mode too. You can never go wrong with that one.

Overall : 95
If it weren't for the beautiful graphics, great sound, awesome gameplay, and enormous replay value NBA2K1 would have nothing going for it. This is a must have title for all gamers, hardcore, casual, and anywhere in between. NBA2K1 is once again the crown jewel of all basketball titles, not only for the Dreamcast, but also for every basketball game ever made on planet Earth.

By: Michael Wicks 11/30/00

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