- Buy the Game
Reviewed by Jason Thompson
Okay, so here’s the dilemma: previously, I raved over 2K Sports’ “NHL 2K9” and it being much better than Electronic Arts’ hockey game this year. So why the hell can’t I do the same for its basketball game? It seems everywhere I’ve looked, everyone’s giving this one the thumbs up and EA’s game the thumbs down, but for the life of me, I just can’t seem to agree with the majority. Not that that should be a factor at all, but I felt that perhaps I was really missing something when it comes to this game. After repeated plays, however, I’m sticking to my own guns. “NBA 2K9” just isn’t that great, regardless of what everyone else’s opinion may be.
Perhaps it’s because it supposedly performs better than last year’s “NBA 2K8.” That it no longer feels “broken” when playing defense, or that its overall pacing is up to par. All I can tell you is that the game I was playing seemed just average at best. Maybe everyone else is drinking the Kool-Aid, but to me this game felt clunky all over. And man, what’s with the laggy animations and the choice to actually show the color commentators this time around? They look like complete zombies. Ah, but let’s break down what’s new this year.
Some have said that 2K really didn’t put much thought into the updating of the rosters in past games, so this year they’ve gone the extra mile to have daily updates. Only problem is, so has EA, and in a much more pronounced and interesting way. Okay, so at least they tackled the problem, but they didn’t quite put it to bed. How about those “Signature Styles” then? This time out, 2K has doled out a ton of “Signature Defensive Styles” as well as “Signature Facial Animations.” The first part makes sense and does add a little to the game. It’s nice to have a player play the way he should, and not just be able to completely dominate the game in one way or another, but “signature facial animations?” Sorry, but do each of these guys have a patented “look” when they do the same thing every time? Just looking sweaty and aggressive seems like it would be enough. But hey, grab the silly gold ring if you need to.
This year, the “shot stick” has been tweaked to allow players to change their shots on the fly. Yeah, it’s supposed to give you more control, but at the same time it seems a bit unrealistic as well. Hardcore players will tell you that it’s all about giving more finesse to the game. Actual reality may dictate otherwise, but then again, this is a video game. The laws of true physics never really seem to apply, no matter how much “realism” is thrown into the mix. Oh, and “The Association” has also been modified this year. Dubbed “The Association 2.0” and hooking up to the NBA.com servers, it really doesn’t offer up much for the player who just wants to get his game on. Those really into depth, however, will find plenty of minute details to get lost in.
Online, the game is a fine experience. This year, players can go at it with up to 10 consoles online to create a great 5-on-5 experience -- or not. As always, it depends on who you’re playing with. Friends who like to play together will do well together. People stuck with just anyone may find that their results differ. But that’s always the case in the online games. Still, it never feels broken, so points to 2K in this department. And it would seem that they have what it takes to make a popular game all around this year, factoring in those other gamers’ opinions. But as stated earlier, for me there’s something not quite completely “together” about “NBA 2K9.” It’s at least worth a rental to see if it’s the basketball game you’re looking for.