In one of the best blog schwag snags of my career, I was sent a preview copy of NBA 2k8 for Xbox 360 this weekend, and have a few early impressions after playing for a bit:
First off, this is perennially the best basketball game year after year. At least I am told. I play this game for a bit year after year and always have a hard time getting into it cause the controls are a smidge too complicated. I am ok at the game, but always feel like I'm playing the game wrong. I went into this game with a clean slate and an open mind, and while the game seems more natural and realistic than ever before, I still feel like I'm struggling a but to get the game down.
Biggest issue is the post play, which I hear is great and amazing and the best part about this game, but I have no idea how to execute. There's no tutorial and the manual is pretty useless. It appears to assume you've played the game before, and plays real rough if you haven't. A quick video tutorial or training would go a long way to bring new fans into the series. I need to figure this soon, or else I'm probably gonna go back to playing NHL 08 pretty quick. (which, by the way, is the most fun sports game I've played in maybe a decade.)
So assuming I someday learn how to play this game, it looks pretty great. The animations, especially around the basket when taking it to the hole, are pretty spot on. Player contact, always an issue in basketball games, looks remarkably natural. There are clipping issues here and there, but overall it just looks so much more realistic than ever before. From the outside, every player has is own looking shot, the faces all look pretty spot on and the crowd seems fine. All that aside, the flow of the game just looks smooth. At times, real.
I also need to mention that this is the first basketball game I've ever played that has convinced me to run plays. Not full plays, but there's this bit where you can pick one player to run 1 of 4 simple run-offs to get open. Either have them set a screen, come off a screen, post up, or just "get open." And it looks great and works most of the time. Call come off a screen for a shooter, watch them run through traffic, hit them on their spot and knock down a J. It's quite satisfying. I think there's a big jump in these games between hardcore sim players and people like, who like a realistic looking game without it being too hard. This really helps bridge the gap.
I can't speak for the franchise or the association or online or anything else like that. So far I've just played a handful of exhibition games against the computer. Usually as the Knicks and usually against the Celtics on default difficulty. For what it's worth, I have a feeling Q and Crawford are gonna have big years. Celts ain't all that.