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ESPN NBA 2K5 Review

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Developer: Visual Concepts Publisher: Sega
Release Date: September 28, 2004 Available On: PS2 and Xbox

Last year, the ESPN license took over for Sega Sports titles and in my mind, hurt the final product dramatically. However, the 2K5 series of games seem to be the revival of Sega Sports, creating the best football game, best hockey game, and still the best basketball game. While 2K5 still isn’t nearly as good as the earlier games in the series, it still brings a fun, realistic feel to the game of basketball. Compared to ESPN Football however, the ESPN presentation just doesn’t fit as well into the NBA as it did the NFL. Nevertheless, it adds a great portion of the game’s success. I would play this over NBA Live any day.

Now, if you were to remove the thought from your mind that you’re playing a game, you would have to look twice to find out that the picture isn’t real life. Visual Concepts does an excellent job in showing off the game of basketball through the improved TV camera angle. This, along with outstanding character models and a realistic crowd, it is just like watching a live broadcast on ESPN. Playing with this new camera angle does seem to be a bit of a challenge. You cannot see the plays developing and it’s much more difficult to play defense against your opponent. That is why the 2K5 camera is the secondary angle and works just like past games in following the action. New animations show off many new spectacles that weren’t seen in past titles. Rim rattling dunks, unbelievable lay-ups, and iso-motion crossovers are just some of the new things you will see in 2K5. I just wish there were more animations from your bench and coach to make ESPN even better.

Using ESPN Game Sound, NBA 2K5 brings you the full arena experience. With the crowds roaring in with excitement and chiming in at high points in your team’s momentum during the game, you will be amazed how great it is. Shoe squeaking and player chatter also brings high notes to this title. The announce team however isn’t as lucky. Is it as bad as Madden? No. But with the addition of Bill Walton and Stewart Scott to the team, you will sigh in disbelief at how annoying they are. How they announce though is true to their real life commentary, but it doesn’t help at all. On top of all the rap music in the game, I really wasn’t impressed with the soundtrack. The actual gameplay experience without the announce team is bliss. God I live the ability to turn off color and play by play.

I believe the gameplay in the 2K series has been better than Live until this year at least. The new Iso-motion control allows you to control the moves you try to pull on your opponent. This takes the place of the passing stick however which was one of my favorite things that used to be in the 2K series. A hop step was added that helps with playing the low post, but this will also cause you to perform a few traveling violations until you become adjusted. Being as difficult as it was, free throw shooting has gotten even more difficult. I still am having problems shooting weeks after getting the game. In 24/7 Mode, starting to train your player to shoot free throws will be a misery. It took me a good week to raise my character’s free throw stats up 2 points due to frustration.

24/7 mode has been upgraded, giving you many more unlockables and players. You will train with your player to raise the statistics of him and gain respect from other NBA players by challenging them. Training your player to be in the NBA however is a dedication. You have to play each day to keep your player’s stats up. If you don’t play for a good amount of time, stats go down. This is because ESPN uses the internal clock of your Xbox to tell when you have and haven’t played. It is fun, yet very difficult to keep up when you aren’t around or take interest in other titles. 24/7 mode captures the commitment needed to make it to the NBA. Create-a-player has also been given an interesting new feature, allowing you to design your own shoe. You are given a variety of different designs for each part of the shoe, including logos to paste on them. Would be nice if you could create your own logo, but we still have next year to think about that.

Including 24/7 mode, you have a variety of street games you can play including 21, one on one, or up to 5 on 5. The franchise mode puts you in near full control of your organization. There are weekly practice sessions to boost players stats, as well as conferences with players to boost their morale and improve performance. You also have the option of signing great assistant coaches and trainers to help the upkeep of your players so they will improve and heal faster after injury. Xbox Live will keep you in a while, allowing you to play both professional and street games. You can also match skills with other players by putting your 24/7 characters up against each other. If the 2K series would only adapt the ideas of All-Star weekend by adding the 3-Point Shootout and Dunk Contest like in Live, you would have the complete basketball experience at your fingertips. At $20 though, ESPN NBA 2K5 is well worth your time.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 8.4
Written by Shawn Review Guide