NBA 2K8 Review

This review was rather difficult to write, as I’ve had so many changes of heart during my experience with this game that I don’t know how I’m going to feel about it from one play session to the next. After first picking the game up, I was as blown away as you can be by a yearly franchise — the graphics looked great and the number of features was right on, but what was really impressive was the animations and attention to detail the game showed. Being a hardcore NBA fan, these sort of things really mean a lot to me. The problems I ran into in my first few games seemed like they’d be isolated incidents. As it turns out… not so much.

In terms of realism, you can’t find a more realistic NBA game right now. From Kobe’s fadeaways to Steve Nash’s fancy passes to Tracy McGrady’s patented scissor-kick release, virtually every move these players make looks identical to the real thing. And while this won’t be mistaken for an actual game of basketball, most of the players look enough alike to their real life counterparts to be easily recognizable. There are exceptions, though, where players will simply look hideous.

The game itself plays out in realistic fashion, with the inside game being the anchor for any good offense, while finding the lapse in a defense will properly reward you with a high percentage shot. Simply trying to dominate the game with a single player is much more difficult than in previous games thanks to the combination of lock-on defense and smarter defensive rotations – smarter, but still not quite smart. You’ll still find yourself screaming at the screen when defenders watch someone drive right to the hoop and do nothing to stop them.

Likewise, while certain aspects of the game have taken tremendous leaps towards realism, others have done the exact opposite. Alley-oops, no matter how ludicrous the lob and actual dunk attempt, go in with such great frequency (so long as the passer has a decent pass rating) that you’ll be tempted to simply run pick-and-rolls all game long. On the defensive side, double teams are almost a guaranteed take away for the defense (and the ballhandler doesn’t even seem to care; he and the defender will just stand there, seemingly exerting no effort at all until the ball ends up in the defender’s hands) unless you’re lucky enough to see it coming and mash the pass button.

Shooting percentages are generally in the normal NBA range (if not on the high-end, usually), but this is only accomplished through what is quite possibly the most frustrating thing I have simply EVER encountered in a videogame: blown layups. Sure, they happen in the NBA from time to time, but the frequency that they occur in NBA 2K8 is just maddening. Fastbreak layups by future Hall of Famers like Kobe Bryant or LeBron James are botched like it’s a bodily function, while the same will happen when taking a point blank layup with Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett. I’ve actually lost a number of games due entirely to simple layups being missed in the closing seconds. And sadly, without them, the shooting percentages for each and every game would likely be in excess of 70%.

This is in spite of the fact that defense is easier than ever to play with lock-on defense. By hitting a button, your player automatically locks onto the player he is defending and with very minimal effort, you’ll be able to stay in front of him and the basket — regardless of your player’s defensive prowess and the offensive player’s talent.

Conversely, free throw percentages will oftentimes be lower than they should be, particularly online. The online factor is due to a bizarre bug that causes the first free throw to be as if someone hit the fast-forward button. The dribbling of the ball, players and refs moving around on the court and the shot attempt itself – meaning you need to compensate not only for the latency you get from playing over the Internet, but also the comical speed at which everything is happening at. The second shot is then inexplicably back to normal speed, making it a real challenge to make both free throws.

There a number of other problems as well, but it’s hard not to suggest 2K8 to anyone in the market for a solid NBA game. The new Association mode will provide plenty to do offline, while online leagues will do the same for those who like playing multiplayer. The core game just plays so well and looks so realistic that it’s hard not to forgive it for having all of these other issues.

And by forgive, I of course mean go hoarse from screaming at the television for hours on end.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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