NBA Shootout 2004


posted 12/11/2003 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PS2
Free throw shooting in NBA Shootout 2004 consists of pulling back both analog sticks to a certain point and releasing them at the same time. It’s sort of like the old John Elway Football arcade game. It definitely adds some skill to shooting the free throw and I do enjoy the method that 989 Sports implemented. It’s a little easier than the method that ESPN NBA Basketball uses while still providing a little challenge.

NBA Shootout 2004 features their own right analog stick motion play and it’s inconsistent at how it works. You rotate the stick around for different moves and when it reacts it looks pretty. I do like how the player stutter steps and dribbles by. The problem is that there are plenty of times where I would move the stick and the player would just sit there. The feature certainly doesn’t help when I’m trying to put a move on my defender and nothing happens when I call for it.

If you have a microphone, you can hold down L1 and speak some plays into the microphone. It’s a very cool feature when it works but to get it to work right seems to be the problem. Many times I’d call a play only to have the game interpret what I said differently. For example, a few times I’d call 2-3 zone and see my player stand around in the man-to-man even though the game displayed that it registered my command correctly. It’s hard to determine whether it is the game, the microphone, or a combination of both. Voice recognition technology is a mixed bag still but I’m excited to see the feature improve in future versions as basketball is one game that could really benefit from using voice commands to call plays.

The game’s omission of a traditional career mode, where you take a team through a number of seasons, is counterbalanced by the inclusion of a player career mode. In NBA Shootout 2004’s career mode, it lets you take one player through summer leagues in hopes of getting a contract from an NBA team. You’ll try to win championships and earn enough points to be entered into the Hall of Fame. It’s a great feature by 989 Sports and I had a great time playing summer leagues with lower tier NBA players and getting that first contract for 10 games from the Cavaliers. A problem with the feature though is that if you try to be a player at a position where the team has an all-star caliber player, you’ll replace that marquee player once a contract is offered. There is no way to dictate which player the team cuts to get you on the team and I was pretty miffed when I replaced Lebron James at the point guard position. That fault aside, the feature’s pretty unique and a great take on a career mode.

Player models do need some work though. A lot of the players look nothing like their real life counterpart and comparing NBA Shootout 2004 to the other NBA offerings show the game to be the worse of them all. The inaccuracy of the player models can really be seen on the faces. Out of all the NBA games on the consoles this year, NBA Shootout 2004’s player models are the worse of the bunch. The crowds and the stadiums done well though but the main attractions of the players do need improvements.

The play by play in the game is one of the better ones but only if you are not annoyed by Bill Walton. It’s a lot less repetitive than other NBA games I’ve played and the two team announcing core of Bill Walton and Ian Eagle aren’t too shabby. They are on top of the game most of the time but do get lost in commentating occasionally by being a play or so behind.

989 Sports’ NBA Shootout 2004 is an average basketball game that does have some redeeming features. Graphics aren’t up to par and the action does produce some annoying moments at times. No traditional career mode will turn off some fans but the player career mode is a neat feature. You can even create your own dunk if you would like by adjusting certain parameters of the player as he’s going to the hoop. In the end, NBA Shootout 2004 is an average NBA basketball game that does have some unique features but not enough to make it stand out above the other offerings out there. With some improvements though, the game could contend next year.

A unique player career mode doesn't put this game in the upper echelon, but it's not a bad basketball game.

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