While there is often a debate about which football game is better: Madden
or the NFL
series from Sega, there really hasn’t been a debate about the best basketball game for three years running. Sega Sports’ NBA2K3
is their first multiplatform basketball game which really was given a good amount of development time (the 2K2 series was a quickly rushed to market game on the GameCube) and the series shows no intention of giving up the championship crown.
The game sure does look good on all three platforms – the intro video is all ESPN SportsCenter. Sega has really done well with this license (Konami, the previous suitor of the ESPN license, should be taking notes). Allen Iverson is still the cover boy of this year's game – it’s not that often you see a repeat cover man but hey, if the game is good the first time around, don’t break it.
Menus on the platforms are virtually identical : Quick Game (duh), different game modes including season, playoffs, tournament, practice and franchise. The Xbox version has a ‘play live’ mode while the PS2 version has a “network” mode. Sadly of course, there is no online play allowed in the Gamecube version.
The gameplay itself isn’t much different from last year’s model – which is a good thing if you’re familiar with NBA. If you are coming from a different game such as Inside Drive
or NBA Shootout
, you may find a quick learning curve to get out of the way, but nothing insurmountable.
As far as the gameplay goes – this game plays hard – even at the supposedly easy slider levels. Sega has included sliders for gameplay which do have an effect on the game (sliders include: 3pt shot %, close shot %, AI Close shot tendency, twenty-nine total sliders).
You definitely need to plot a strategy to win games. There are twenty five offensive and ten defensive plays you can call from the coaching screen, however you can only have four offensive and four defensive plays that can be called during gameplay. Strategy really comes into play before the first jump ball. If you’re playing the Celtics, you may need to play some of your guys in tight coverage to avoid allowing Pierce to open up for the three. Conversely, if you’re the Celtics, perhaps your best bet is running a screen to get Pierce open for the three.
Of course, if you don’t want to get that anal retentive, you can have the computer manage your substitutions and timeouts and coaching strategies if you like. The computer is not that bad – I do have to caution you – the computer does go through your timeouts pretty quickly. Most games I have played when I’ve manually called timeout I find I’m down to one or two – which isn’t a good thing when there’s under a minute left and you’re down by six.
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