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NBA Jam 2000 (N64) Review

Publisher: Acclaim Sports
Release Date: November 1999

Background Info

Acclaim attempts to take on all of the N64 basketball games by incorporating both a sim and an arcade mode in NBA Jam 2000. With a title such as NBA Jam, one might think that its JAM mode must be fun and exciting. Unfortunately, this is not so.

Presentation/Graphics : 75
The graphics in NBA Jam 2000 are a disappointment. The player models in the arcade mode of NBA Jam 2000 are a little exaggerated. Shaq looks like a gorilla. On the other end of the stick, we have guards that look like midgets running around the court. Yes, the players only look that wide/thin on the arcade mode. What about the simulation mode? The players are better scaled proportionally, but still do not look realistic. On close-up shots of the players, the sharp edges of players' joints are easily visible.

A bunch of frames are missing in animations as well. It is strange to see players jump from performing one action to another in a split second without any transition. Definitely not a good thing. I also experienced slowdowns at certain points when all the players were near the hoop. Not too noticeable, but worth mentioning.

Graphical detail was sacrificed to up the speed of the game. The Fly Behind camera view that NBA 2K fans love is in the game. The default camera view is not too bad. The players are larger when they are positioned on the closer sidelines than they are running near the upper sidelines where the benches are. Very realistic feel. I have experienced slow-downs when in traffic with a bunch of players around the ball handler.

Presentation/Audio : 83
Kevin Harlan returns as the play-by-play announcer. The play-by-play is for the most part entertaining. Harlan does not sound monotonous. His enthusiastic comments have spunk in them. He does refer to the majority of the players by their last name. Looks like all recycled material from last year's game.

The arena announcer may annoy some users out there. He refers to players as number X. Marv Albert is virtually nonexistent in the game. Adding a few lines at the start, end of half, and end of game. The starting line-up presentation is disappointing from an audio standpoint. The announcer only announces the players' height, number and their position. None of the players' names are called out.

The in-game sound effects are average and nothing special. Well, there is a nice feature where the crowd does a count down at the end of the quarters.

Interface/Options : 85
This is where NBA Jam 2000's strongest area lies. The game has both the classic JAM mode, as well as an all-new simulation mode. NBA Jam 2000 contains all 29 teams along with the 300+ players in the NBA.

The season mode includes a variety of options, including an all-star game, trades, drafts, create-a-player, and more. I had a tough time getting a fair trade trading players for players. However, trading players for a high draft pick was relatively easy. Most high draft picks end up being near 100 in their overall ratings. You are able to play as many seasons as you wish. Included in the season mode are a bunch of NBA awards such as the MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and more. Signing free agents is too easy. I ended up signing Antonie Jamison, Horace Grant, and Keith Van Horn in the same off-season with the Lakers. The way free agency works is that your team has a number of available points and you bid on players. After you keep on bidding higher than the other teams, the player will sign with your team.

Acclaim has followed their WWF Attitude's create-a-player success with the same in NBA Jam 2000. The create-a-player feature allows you to customize a player's college, number, weight, height, attributes, appearance and much more. Users can earn bonus points toward their created players.

Players are able to perform a back down move, call for picks, call plays, and toss alley oops, along with the basic controls that are in basketball games. The game also has icon passing, or direct pass as some of you NBA Live fans know. Of course this feature is only available in the sim mode. Does not make sense to have icon passing in 2-on-2.

Quarter length can be set from 1 to 12 minutes. There are four referee strictness levels. The game speed can be adjusted from slow, medium and fast. The game also includes a Tag Mode, which allows you to control basically whoever has the ball on your team. (Jam Mode)

The interface is well done. Most of the options are easy to find and read. The menus are well organized for the most part. One grudge I have with the controls is: why did they make pass button B? Logic would think that pass would be button A since that is the closest button to users' thumbs. Pass is in use much more than the shoot button is.

Gameplay : 75
NBA Jam 2000 aims for the arcade and the sim crowd. Even with 50 dunks, NBA Jam 2000 definitely does not win any praises for its jam mode. If a mode is going to be pure arcade, why not go all out with it and make players be able to dunk from 20+ feet up in the air? As it is right now, the players get maybe 3-5 feet over the hoop and dunk. It appears that Acclaim wanted sim and arcade fans to enjoy the jam mode. NBA Jam 2000, compared to NBA Showtime, is less crazy and more under control. In NBA Showtime, players get knocked down left and right, and turns into a pure arcade shoot-out, while NBA Jam 2000 requires a tad bit of strategy. After a few games, players can easily breakdown the AI and get easy baskets constantly. The AI seems to ease up on defense. A good thing about the jam mode is that ability to call picks. By pressing down C, your teammate will come over and knock down your defender, providing he is a strong guy, and thus you have a screen.

The sim mode is well done but still needs a little work. You have guys going right through two defenders just like nothing. True, some players can do this, but the majority can't split two defenders with ease. The cpu's field goal percentage seems all right, but your field goal percentage is really skewed since it is really easy to knock down shots by backing up the defenders and taking a 8-12 feet shot. As far as 'special moves,' you are able to do a back down move (aka post move), cross-over, behind-the-back dribble and alley oop. Don't try to get too fancy or else your ball handler will lose control of the ball. A nice realistic touch. Also, you are also able to pick one of four plays while on the run. The reaction times of the players on the court are slow. With one fake, users are able to blow past just about anyone.

The 3-point contest featured in the game will probably never be used after someone has used it once. The feature is useless in improving your skills in shooting 3-pointers in the game. However, the 3-point contest might be a good way to compete in something if time is short.

Replay Value : 75
The gameplay in the jam mode NBA Jam 2000 is very lacking. The sim mode is not so bad. There are some flaws, but most are not too major. Along with the sim gameplay mode and the franchise mode, NBA Jam 2000 should keep buyers entertained for a few weeks.

Overall : 78
NBA Showtime's JAM mode is much more pleasing than NBA Jam 2000's mode, but NBA Jam 2000's simulation gameplay is not too shabby. I'm not sure where Acclaim stands on developing N64 games, but by next year, the N64 will just about be dead. This may be the last N64 version of the game. NBA Jam 2000 is worth a rental and maybe even a purchase depending on your taste of the franchise mode and the gameplay.

By: James C. 1/10/00

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