NBA ShootOut 2004 Review

Developer: 989 Sports Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: October 28, 2003 Also On: PS

989 Sports has always covered a large number of sports. Baseball, check; football, check; basketball, check; college basketball, check; in all of these sports, 989 has been attempting to catch the competition, primarily EA and Sega. There are some key features in their franchises that keep them entertaining; however, the graphics and computer AI aren’t at the same level as the competition.

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Game modes in ShootOut include quick play, online play, season, playoff, career, and practice. The biggest change from last year’s version is of course online play. Whether you have broadband or dial-up, you can get your game on, over the net. NBA ShootOut is also compatible with the USB headset to chat in the lobby and during the game. ShootOut features the most comprehensive online basketball experience around with updated stats, online tournaments, a ticker with scores, downloadable rosters, and more. Voice recognition technology allows you to call plays and set picks.

ShootOut offers over 50 unlockable legends by completing challenges, such as having 15 rebounds in a game with any single player. ShootOut allows you to edit your starters, who guards who, rules, and options such as time of quarters, AI difficulty, player fatigue (on or off), etc. A neat addition to this version is the automatic slow-motion shots of your best slam dunks and blocks. For younger players, ShootOut should be easy to pick up, since the controls are simple to figure out, the only problem that I found was that scoring can be difficult at times. One good use of the control set-up is the use of the right-analog stick to perform a freestyle move, going around your opponent and straight to the net. Pressing L2 will show you who you can pass the ball to, however, the button signs are on the court and are hard to make out. Instead of having them on the court, 989 should have put them above the player, just like in any other normal basketball game.

The only problem that I had with ShootOut 2004 is related to the graphics engine and player AI. Don’t take that lightly though, this is where the game fails miserably and ruins the experience. There are some moderate collision detection issues, in which players’ hands will pass through other bodies or dunkers going through backboards. Both the computer opponent and your own AI will not be very active, usually standing-still, even when a ball is being passed down court. Player reaction times are slow, usually taking one to two seconds for them to respond to commands that you ordered such as passing or shooting. On top of the problems that I just specified, there is some profoundly noticeable slow-down. The camera angles are similar to Final Four 2004’s, but they are more flimsy. The crowd looks horrible, but that can be cancelled out with the nice television-like presentation that is offered, which is well done. While this wouldn’t be my first choice for a PS2 basketball game, it could be a good 2nd choice, behind Sega’s ESPN/2K series.

Graphics: 3
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 7.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 6.3
Written by Kyle Review Guide

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