For the last few instalments, 2K sports have held a clear advantage over their EA sports competitor. This year the gap between the two franchises widens, as 2K presents what could possibly go down as the most complete sports game ever made. Take Two has said good riddance to the days of doing as little as possible and releasing essentially the same game each year, and jam packed NBA 2K8 with a host of new modes and presents a fantastic package.
First and foremost, what’s new here from last year? The already stellar animation system has been redone and compliments the also new foot-planting engine, creating realistic movement and dribbling. Signature shot animations have been done not only for the games stars, but most players and every single NBA player has been graphically reworked making them easily recognisable to basketball buffs out there.
The crowds and stadiums are superb and the way they interact with the players will leave you wondering if you’re watching TV or not. Players can stumble outside the court and fall into other players on the sidelines. Other nice features are the cheerleaders, team mascots, even the man who mops the floor between plays! The crowd is also far more realistic looking and their actions and animations correspond to the situation in the game.
The already superb animations have been reinvented and are now better than ever. Players have their own signature shots, ball handling, defence, dunks, and even facial expressions. These are all based upon the players’ feet, which definitely takes some time adjusting to. No longer can players immediately change direction and make blatantly impossible movements. This results in fluid, realistic looking movement that gives the game a much more authentic look.
The commentary is yet another exemplary example of 2K’s dedication to creating a true basketball sim. The commentary team, household names to those stateside, do an excellent job of calling the game. For well known players they also offer insightful comments referring to players’ personal lives and activities they were involved in during the off season. The T-Mobile half time report is great and the 2K sport ticker providing real time information and scores on American sports.
The association mode is where most players will spend most of their time. Like EA sports “Dynasty Mode”, here you take control of a team in the hope of turning them into the next great NBA franchise. Players have to deal with everything from team morale, scouting future talent, organizing playing time and practices, assigning player roles and a whole lot more. Every action you take will have a reaction and an effect on your franchise. Whilst dealing with all the issues involved, players must also keep an adequate balance with the team owners or its game over! The association mode is amazingly deep and players will lose hours just exploring all of the things to do.
If this seems all too much, there’s also the option to play a single season or take part in a rookie challenge, focusing instead on up and comers in the NBA. The streetball component is back as NBA Blacktop mode, where you play as famous NBA stars to compete in some streetball competitions and mini games.
NBA 2K8 also introduces us to Slam-Dunk and 3 point shootout competitions. The Slam-Dunk contest, sponsored by Sprite lets players pull of some amazing moves and even bring in the likes of cars as props. Whilst it takes practice, once you get the hang of it, its superb fun.
If online play is more your scene, you’re in luck. Players can take place in ranked and un-ranked matches, tournaments and even full leagues right down to an online draft. The dunk contest is also available online, and shows that some people play this game way too much!
NBA 2K8 is the most complete sports game possibly ever made. The amazing presentation combined with a huge number of game modes including the extraordinarily deep Association mode makes for the best $100.00 you’ll ever spend on a sports game!