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NBA Shootout 2001 (PSX) Review

Background Info

The Shootout series has always played second fiddle to the Live series throughout the years. Not to say that it's been a bad game of basketball, because it hasn't. Actually, some features have even been better than Live, such as the player models, but the overall game hasn't. This year the history of the two series still holds true. With the 989's recent release of NBA Shootout 2001 for the PSX, it's still more of the same and almost an exact duplicate of last year's title with just a few extras thrown in for good measure.

Presentation/Graphics : 80
NBA Shootout's strong suit is its player models. They have always been the most realistic looking out of all the PSX basketball titles year in and year out and Shootout 2001 is no exception. The athletes surprisingly look quite lifelike when compared to their real NBA counterparts. And everyone still has that high pro glow look which is nice. But what this title gives you in the graphics of the models, it takes away in frame-rate. 989 did a nice job with the Mop-n-Glow, which makes the players' reflections on the court look good. I like the feel of all the arenas too. The lighting seems to be different depending on where you play, but some of them tend to be a little too dark.

One thing that kept making me laugh is that a lot of the players (especially Kobe) looked like they had painted on smiles with huge teeth. They would always have that same expression no matter what they were doing. There are a lot of different dunk animations in this year's title. You have the 360, windmill, and my favorite, between the legs tomahawk jam. They are fun to do and players really jam them hard like Dominique used to do back in the Eighties. The rim acts a little funny though. It feels a little like you're dunking on a flimsy indoor Nerf hoop. The replay modes look good even when zooming up-close on the players. No one looks like a big blob or the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Presentation/Audio : 55
Shootout 2001 could use a little help in the audio department. We'll start off with the announcer. He's very uninspiring and just throws out the usually stuff like "Carter with the dunk". He's seems more of a play-by-play man and the game could use a good color guy too. The crowd noise is the second problem. The cheering doesn't sound like real people, but more like the static sound a TV makes when your cable goes out. Generic grunts, bounces, and squeaky shoes are all in there. The one good sound feature is the jock jams that are played during gameplay and timeouts. All the classics are in there and can really pump you up after a block or when you dunk in someone's face.

Interface/Options : 70
Shootout 2001 has got an interesting create-a-dunk feature. Here you'll be able to actually fabricate dunks with bits and pieces of actual famous in-game dunks. It's a little difficult to get the hang of at first, but once you finish making a dunk you can watch your creation. It's all right, but not really anything to write home about. Icon passing is back but I have never been a big fan of this feature. It just seems easier to point in the direction of your teammates. With the icon feature, you can direct your players to cut to the basket, alley-oop, or set a pick. Now these features are necessary because the AI is quite good. Unless you're using someone like Kobe, it's a little difficult to get around your opponent one-on-one.

Another unique feature to Shootout 2001 is the Touch Shooting. It's an in-game meter that you can use to control the accuracy of your shot. It's useless, though. I like the good ol' just fire away and hope for the best mode. I kept looking at this damn meter and it would mess my game up because I would stop focusing on the action. There's your standard create-a-player mode and play creator too. Plus all of your comprehensive statistical analysis like stats for teams, individuals, and league leaders. Also you have control over all of your in-game options such as quarter length, fatigue, and player I.D. Finally, you have three different game modes, exhibition, season, and playoffs.

Gameplay : 66
Gameplay for the Shootout series has always been decent, but it's also why year in and year out the game has been a distant second to the Live series. For this year, Shootout 2001 seemed to take a small step backwards. As I mentioned earlier, frame-rate tends to suffer from time to time especially when making crosscourt type passes. It seems like the ball magically appears in your teammate's hand the split second you hit the pass button. It can throw you off during gameplay and make you feel like you don't know what happened. Blocks are also hard to come by but the computer doesn't have a hard time blocking you at all, no sir. Also on fast breaks, teammates slowdown and sometimes even stop when you pass them the ball, when they should be going in for an easy lay-up. O.K. last bad thing and I'll stop. Spin moves and crossovers are there, but they are executed way too slow.

"Hey, is there anything good about the gameplay?" Sure there is Jr. There are plenty of good camera angles to choose from. One is even very unique that I enjoyed very much. Let me explain. The in-bounding of the ball is done in a full-court view and after the ball reaches half court, there is a smooth transition into a three quarter view. It might sound a little funky, but it's nice. There's also a great low post game that uses Ewing's nice little fade away to your advantage. Gameplay also closely resembles a real NBA game. You can't just hit the speed button, run around the court for 20 seconds and eventually dunk it on someone. You will have to use your pump-fakes and low post game or you could get run.

Replay Value : 65
Yes, you have the usual multi-player mode so that you and your friends can play at the same time and fight over the ball. Also the create-a-dunk is nice but that really doesn't last too long. After you've created a couple of dunks you probably won't want to make one ever again. Of course the game has been updated to the 2000-01 NBA roster. "Well, I hope so buddy," because it's one of the few features for 2001 that has been upgraded. Then there's your typical season and playoffs, but I don't know anyone who has actually finished an 82 game schedule of any Shootout game.

Overall : 68
The ultimate question is always "should I plunk down $39.99 for this game?" The answer to your question is probably no. While Shootout 2001 is not a bad game, it's not as good as Live 2001 for the PSX. It also has to compete with NBA2K1 for the Dreamcast, which is the best basketball game on Earth. So you've got a couple of titles in front of it. But if you're like me, I have to try out every sports title no matter what someone says about it. All the reviews in the world won't give you the true experience of actually playing the game. So go on, just go out, rent it, and get it over with.

By: Michael Wicks 12/21/00

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