NBA Inside Drive 2004

Review

posted 3/2/2004 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
As we near the end of the first half of the NBA season, I decided to test out another NBA game and this time it’s for the Xbox. Microsoft was kind enough to send us NBA Inside Drive 2004 and it’s an ok offering of an NBA game for the Microsoft console.

NBA Inside Drive 2004, featuring Shaq Diesel on the cover, is the fourth NBA game from Microsoft. It features all the gameplay modes found on most basketball games. Single games, seasons, and franchise modes are a few of the modes available. Since EA and Microsoft can’t play nice about having Internet capabilities, NBA Inside Drive 2004 is Xbox Live compatible and you’ll be able to compete against people around the world.

Gameplay on NBA Inside Drive 2004 is good for the most part. Like most basketball games today, the right analog stick allows you to make some fancy moves and fakes. You can juke, fake, jab step, crossover, spin, and hesitate with the right stick and using the right trigger for some moves. The jukes and jab steps are pretty cool and I like how High Voltage has implemented them into the game. Post moves are a plenty with a combination of buttons and direction pushes giving you different type of moves. The action’s fast paced but not too fast. I do suggest turning down the foul sensitivity or you’ll most likely foul out in the first quarter if you’re trying to block shots. I was called for a foul a very high percentage of the time I jumped straight up to contest a shot. Turning the sensitivity down did help a lot and didn’t make the game stop every minute for a shooting foul.

For shooting, there’s a shooting meter that appears when you leap into the air. When you see green, releasing the button will ensure the greatest percentage of the shot going in depending on your situation. To be honest, I never really looked at the meter and had no trouble judging when the best time to release the ball by watching when the player was at the apex of his jump. Free throw shooting is a tri-click method that, after playing ESPN NBA Basketball and NBA Shootout 2004, seems archaic. Free throws should be easy but not as easy as clicking the button three times. You do only get one chance once you start the free throw shooting motion so it does add a little bit of difficulty. Let’s hope High Voltage decides to change the way free throws are done in next year’s version to take a little more skill.

A few other things I liked about NBA Inside Drive 2004 is you’ll sometimes see players tipping the rebounds in the air. It’s nice to see players fight for the rebound or tip it to themselves. Another cool feature is you’ll see some players actually hustle and dive for the ball as it goes out of bounds and try to save it to a player. Yeah, it doesn’t happen as much in the NBA with the over priced talents as does in the college ranks, but you do appreciate the effort and it’s pretty cool to see a player dive out of bounds for the save.


Passes are quick and crisp and I found myself having some good open looks by good ball movement. I even ran some back cuts that resulted in a deuce and looked pretty sweet. The players respond well to passes and you can really work the ball around with ease. The computer does do some good passing around the court and more often then not, the ball will end up to a wide open player. The computer does seem to find them a lot more than normal though as you’ll be cursing at the screen wondering who left their man and playing Ricky Davis type defense.

On all difficulty settings, you won’t have too much trouble working your way inside either with passes or driving. Working your way inside by driving with your player works around 75% of the time, thereby becoming a majority of your offensive strategy. On the flip side, the computer doesn’t have too much trouble either driving by you. They’ll usually slide by you whereas most games would have your player stop the drive in similar situations. I think it should be a little easier to stop a player sliding by but that’s my preference. Even when in a defensive stance and fronting the ball carrier, the person can still get by pretty easily. You can press a button to try and take a charge and it does help deter the driving a little bit but it doesn’t draw the charge as much as ESPN NBA Basketball so you aren’t as hesitant to do it.

The roster in NBA Inside Drive 2004, initially, isn’t very up to date with a few of the major trades happening before the game was released not being representative. If you have Xbox Live, you can download an update roster set. If not, then you’re out of luck and have to play against Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker on the same team for example or take the time to update the rosters yourself.

Commentary by Kevin Calabro, Kenny Smith and Marques Johnson isn’t too bad but does get a little more repetitive than normal. The commentary does seem a little more realistic with interruptions of Calabro and apologizing for it when the action happens during someone talking. The three person team doesn’t do too bad of a job and I didn’t find myself annoyed at the commentating.

If you’re looking for an online NBA game, then NBA Inside Drive 2004 does provide the experience that is lacking in the EA title. What I do like about the service is that you can setup leagues and have it keep stats, making online leagues a lot simpler than trying to jerry-rig one yourself.

NBA Inside Drive 2004 isn’t the prettiest game and it does still have some features that are out of date but the gameplay isn’t too shabby. Graphics are subpar so it’s definitely not a game to show off your Xbox. Online play is a plus and works well with the Xbox Live infrastructure. I’ve been playing a few of the NBA offerings and NBA Inside Drive 2004 does have some good qualities to it to warrant a purchase if you’re looking for an NBA game.





B
A good offering and decent NBA game with some good options. NBA Inside Drive 2004 does some things well but there's still some areas that fall behind the competition.