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PS2 Staff Review by Michael Brady

The king of the hardwood court back! That's right Sega Sports has come back with their new installment in the 2K basketball series. NBA2K3 has finally hit the shelves and sports gaming fans have been waiting for a year to play the newly innovative basketball game. You may remember that last year Sega blessed us with their first basketball game on the PS2 console. However, if you were not aware last years title (NBA2K2) was only a port. It was taken from the Dreamcast console, slightly redesigned and brought to the PS2. This year is totally different! The new basketball game (NBA2K3) has been completely developed from the ground up to play on the PS2 system. This year we are treated to a game that will take full advantage of the PS2 hardware. So get ready hoop fans, basketball fever is about to get even hotter than last year! Take control of any of the great teams in the NBA, and be sure that this will be the most realistic basketball game that you may ever play. Even though another development team may state, "if it's in the game, then it's in the game!" Well the same rules apply here and with allot more to offer. So strap on your high top kicks and get ready to feel the power of the NBA Sega Sports style.

There have been some great changes to this game on all levels that fans will notice in this year's installment. The first department is the graphical presentation. Sega has gone above and beyond the call here folks. They have been able to land ESPN as a sponsor to the title. That is right, you have read me correctly! This amazed me. Not only were they able to do this for the NFL title, but the NBA has this as well, and trust me hoop fans it does make a difference. To see all the stats presented in the ESPN Sports Center format brings a level of realism to the game that no other basketball game has on the market. The character animations have been amped up from last year. The players now have a higher level of detail than before. You can actually see all the tattoos on Allen Iverson, and his cornrows do change in style during the season or in different games. Another addition that was very impressive was the players actually sweat as the game goes on. When you are in the second or third quarter, you actually see the players glistening with sweat from all the hard work that they have been doing. Another new addition that has been implemented is the team mascots. That's right there are now there to cheer you on as the game gets close in the final quarter, or they are there to try and have the other team miss the important free throws that could decide the outcome. Sega has always been one of the most innovative developers around. They have also added new animations to the passing of the rock. Depending on the passing situation your player may give you a bounce pass, chest pass, a fancy behind the back dish etc. Any player that you see in the league that does these tricks with the ball, they will also do it in the game. All of the player foul line shots warm-ups are there as well. I know that Sega has always taken the time to pay close attention to the detail that may go unnoticed, but this is just scary! It seems as if they have crammed all the real life action on the court into this DVD. I love this game!!!!

The gameplay has also improved drastically, I honestly thought that there was nothing more that could be done in terms of improvement here. However, Sega has found a way to achieve this. All the moves are here from last year, but you can now dive for loose balls. You are now able to fake passes using the R3 analog when it is pushed down or you may use directional passing with the R3 stick when pointed in the direction of the player that you may want to pass to. You are also able to redirect your shot by double tapping the shot button, so just when a defender thinks he has you, guess again! The key to success in this game is the play calling. Unlike other basketball games, here you must coach as well as play. The best way to keep your opponent guessing is to change your plays on the fly whether on offence or defense. Be sure to look at you teams strengths and weaknesses, this will determine how you must plan your strategies. All of the game modes are back as well, franchise, season, quick game, practice, training, and street mode. This game also features online capabilities. The online play is great as well. There is no slowdown that I experienced with playing online and it was easy to get into. Be sure to get the network adapter to update your rosters online to ensure that your game is up to date with all the latest trades. No longer will you have to do this yourself, is Sega just great!

The sound in this title is off the hook! The commentating is the best. I was shocked to hear the commentators comment on my aggressive playing style, they also recognized that good and bad plays that I did in the first half by making mention of them in the second half. The commentary is very colourful; they joke around with one another while the game is in progress just as the real commentators do! It seems as if they have somehow squeezed these real life commentators into the disk, shame on you Sega these guys may have families and I'm sure that they are looking for them. On a whole the sound quality rocks and it is sure to have fans guessing what are these guys going to say next?!

There are many basketball games on the market and you may wonder if NBA2K3 is still the king of the court? Well no much has changed in this are either, Sega seems to have the knock to making great sports games and this one does appear to be the best. It is the best real simulation basketball game out there. If you are looking for a ball title that is more like an arcade game, the you may want to go with EA. However, for those of you that are interested in realism like me, then NBA2K3 is definitely for you. This is a gem for any PS2 owner and it is worth the purchase, trust me, you cannot go wrong!

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