NBA 2K9 Review
Xbox 360 | PS3
NBA 2K9 box art
System: PS3, X360, PC, PS2 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Visual Concepts/Kush Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: 2K Sports 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 7, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-7 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
2K Still Ballin’ in 09
by Pete Richards

As developers continually try to improve their sports titles year after year, consumers have the ongoing dilemma of deciding how much the latest installment has to offer over last year’s title. In the case of NBA 2K9, the reception of recent editions from hardcore hoop fans and casual sports gamers alike has been pretty positive due to its impressive presentation and realistic basketball simulation.

NBA 2K9 screenshot

In the battle to balance comprehensive controls with superb realism and graphics, developers haven’t tinkered with NBA 2K too much, improving gameplay mechanics slightly, adding new animations, and introducing the all-new Living Rosters feature.

In all, it’s the little details that make NBA 2K9 a joy to play and watch. Traditionally, developers have added some great animations that make playing the 2K series a unique experience. 2K9 is the best yet with new animations of the coach reacting on the sidelines, players arguing with a ref’s call and celebrating after a successful play. They are fluid, realistic, and the special attention given to between-play animations is something that 2K has continually excelled at.

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Whereas facial features are still inconsistently identical on some athletes and humorously incorrect on others, 2K does a wonderful job of continually delivering a variety of signature in-game movements for different athletes. They’ve taken huge strides in an attempt to recreate the NBA in their game by making some of the most popular athletes move as they really would, giving on-court action a far more realistic presentation. From a visual standpoint, basketball fans will love seeing a spitting recreation of the Kobe fade away and certain athletes such as Shawn Marrion perform his awkward-looking jump shot. Signature animations have become some of the most distinct features in the 2K NBA series and this game is an example of the best work yet from the developers.

NBA 2K9 screenshot

In comparison to EA’s Live 09, on-court activity runs a lot smoother with seemingly less errors. There are fewer issues with framerate, and because animations are more fluid, 2K9 is a very entertaining visual experience. Where Live 09 is full of collision issues, slowdown, and inconsistent line violations, 2K9 is a well-oiled play experience, as athletes run up and down the court and perform moves without the annoying clipping or other visual problems. Even with the amount of people in the arena and detail given to things such as mascots and coaches on the sidelines, NBA 2K9 runs well with so much going on.

One of the other highlights of 2K9 is just how well the A.I. functions. Players dive for the ball and spring into action to tip in a rebound. Athletes move around and play the game more realistically, making themselves open on offense. Sometimes, A.I. characters will run for the fast-break, as this game has a more up-tempo feel while not becoming an arcade whatsoever. The advertised Adaptive A.I. is evident while playing, and this game provides an example of how sports A.I. should react. Don’t think you’ll be able to pass the ball around easily or make your way to the basket whenever you choose with a couple of trick moves. It may work the first couple of times, but the A.I. catches on quickly and you’ll have to call plays to instruct your teammates to be really successful and use icon passing when needed. This is a very defensive game and you’ll need to resort to the basics and utilize a lot of two-man play to win.

NBA 2K9 screenshot

The Shot Stick has been given a tweak, adding more speed to the game by allowing for some quick shots and dunks, while improving from last year. It pretty much works the same, though the shooter is now able to change his shot in mid-air. If you’re stuck in mid-shot against a defensive monster, your player will be able to alter his shot to go up and around the back of the big man with another simple flick of the analog. Lockdown defense has also been improved to holding down the left trigger for a defensive stance then using the right analog to follow your opposing man.

Screenshots / Images
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