Just shoot me. Review

NBA Shootout 2003 Info

genre

  • Sports

players

  • 1 - 8

Publisher

  • Sony

Developer

  • 989 Sports

Release Date

  • Out Now

Platform

  • PS2

rating

Just shoot me.

People make a big deal out of doing something first. The first kiss, the first

one in line, the first time you killed a man - these stand out in our lives as

being inherently important because they happened before all the other times we

did these somewhat trivial things.

But while doing something first carries with it a sort of emotional victory, it doesn't mean it's any good. The first time I drove a car wasn't a pleasant experience, nor was that time when I won first place in the "Worst Golf Shot" contest at Rancho Park. First means first, not best.

Someone

needs to tell this to game companies, who seem to think that getting something

out before everyone else means something other than....getting something out

before anyone else. If this was cause for celebration, then grab your party

hats and your cheap beer and join me in a toast to 989 Sports, who beat out

Sega and EA this year by shipping NBA Shootout 2003 first.

Then, join me as I pour my cheap beer all over this game. Though a few nice

tweaks put it on the right street, it's still going the wrong direction thanks

to bad gameplay mechanics, awful graphics and sluggish control.

You might have noticed that the last Shootout game for the PS2 was actually

NBA Shootout 2001. 989 skipped a year, presumably

to fix the problems the first game had. They probably should have taken another

year off.

However, one first in Shootout 2003 actually should be commended - the

all new Career mode. In response to the new NBDL (National Basketball Developmental

League), this mode lets you create a player and take him from humble beginnings

in the Summer Leagues all the way into the true blue NBA. Your stats are calculated

based on your performance in games - sink lots of jumpers and your boy will

turn into a scoring machine; steal balls like

an enraged gopher on a golf course and you might be the next Alvin Robertson.

You start off competing in local Summer League matches alongside actual NBA

scrubs. Play well and you'll get an offer to join a NBDL team. Keep up the pace

and you might get an offer from a NBA team, though you'll still have to earn

that roster spot. The concept of raising a superstar from scratch is very cool

and works well with basketball.

What doesn't work, though, is just about everything else. The flash might

be there, but this baller is really in need of some hardcore lessons in the

fundamentals.

Take the gameplay. Though rebuilt from scratch, Shootout 2003's is

powered by a slow moving, difficult to control engine. Players move awkwardly

and do not cut crisply. There is no option to get rid of the irritating 'player

momentum', so half the time you're slip-slidin' all over the place. Amazingly,

you cannot pass out of a shot - once you go up for a jumper, it's all over.

This is supremely annoying, as it takes away a ton of cool passes and sweet

plays as well as leading to more than a few ill-timed shots.

Juke moves are handled by the Right analog stick while basic control is handled

by the Left. This looks great on paper, but is very hard to use well because

the response time is terrible. You'll rarely pull off a behind the back dribble

that does any good. The 'freestyle' button also fails to work most of the time,

so forget quick crossovers coming in handy.

Things aren't any better on defense. Though you can assume the defensive stance

to stay between your man and the basket, pressing 'turbo' to keep up with him

makes you give up the stance and run at him rather than have you slide your

feet more quickly. I have no idea why this happens, and it's retarded.

Shootout

2003 features a brand new free throw shooting system that will guarantee

Shaq-like numbers at the line. You have to pull back on the analog sticks evenly

to make a shot, but it's really hard and the learning curve is steep. Aren't

free throws supposed to be easier than in-game shots?

None of this is helped by the bad graphics. While Shootout 2003's arenas

and courts look fine, the players themselves are made up of what looks like

about 10 polygons apiece, leading to a game that would be more at home on the

PSOne. Animations do not flow into one another well - players get 'locked' into

animations even if they are being guarded too tightly. This leads to a moonwalk

effect as your guy goes into his dribble drive move while standing still since

there's a defender in the way that he can't seem to get around. It looks laughably

cheap. Compared to even last year's b-ball games, this is strictly local gym

material.

The rest of the game is exactly what you would expect, with standard Exhibition,

Season, Playoffs and Practice modes (the last is new to Shootout but

not to the genre at all). There's a player creator and full roster management

in here as well, but again, that's standard. They also threw in a 'Create a

dunk' feature, which allows you to tweak a player's joints to create a fantastic

dunk animation. Like most of Shootout 2003, it works better in the locker

room than on the court, thanks again to the lame animations.

989 made one other good move, which was to hire on the inimitable Bill

Walton to provide commentary. While play-by-play man Ian Eagle is pretty

bland, Bill's ridiculous lines and constant stream of hyperbole ("That's the

greatest pass I've ever seen!") will warrant a few chuckles.

And, if you look at it the right way, Shootout 2003 unintentionally

provides a few chuckles as well. Though the Career mode is a promising

new concept, the rest of this bench warmer does not make the team. But don't

count the company out. After all, when at first you don't succeed...


REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

1
Rating
Cool new Career Mode
Better than
...barely.
Bad graphics
Poor control
No jump-passing?!?!
More criminal than