NBA2K6: Plays well, unimpressive look

NBA 2K6 plays well and will have basketball fans hooked, but its unimpressive look and feel is a disappointment.
By Kaunda Chama, ITWeb features editor
Johannesburg, 28 Apr 2006

When I first played this game I thought it was terrible. When I realised there are only so many ways the act of throwing a ball into a hoop can be translated, I decided to be a little more tolerant with my final review.

Firstly, on improving on the previous instalment of the series, the developers did, on this one, risk overdoing even the most obvious improvements like shooting and ball handling made to NBA 2K6s.

<B>Spec sheet</B>

[SidebarPicture]Developer: EA Sports

Publisher: EA Sports

Type: Arcade

Platform: PS2

Supplied by: Take2


But on the overall look and feel side of things, NBA 2K6 is not the best-looking basketball game so far this year.

When it comes to presentation, 2K6 tries but fails to get top honours, unlike most games that come from Visual Concepts. I don`t think it is enough to just concentrate on getting the look of players` faces right.

The game did not do it for me when it came to visual perspective with the animations used for player movement, collisions, and other movements. It seemed a little "cartoony".

It was almost two dimensional - it lacked flexibility and variety in the way players move and act, even dribbling, defending, rebounding, or even looked bland.

Worse still the animations do pop every now and then, which can be off-putting, so overall the fluidity and detail of the player models in NBA 2K6 are not out of this world.

Once again unfortunately, on replays the frame rate suffers a lot on PS2 platform and can get chunky from time to time during regular gameplay. One does not need that when they are trying to enjoy a sports game.

However, the court sounds and crowd noise are good, and the announcing in the game has improved greatly. Kevin Harlan and Kenny Smith take over from Bill Fitzgerald and Bill Walton from last year`s game.

On the downside, one is inundated by the outrageous amount of advertising in the game. It all seems too much like basketball on TV. I do not need that stuff in the game.

However, there are some very good improvements. One no longer has to hit the turbo button in the traditional sense. Instead, the right and left triggers serve as "aggressive modifiers", which change how the game interprets the passing and shooting buttons.

Instead of wiggling the right analogue stick to unleash canned and stilted juke animations, the new functionality combines movement and jukes into the left analogue stick. One need only simply move the left stick to move a player around.

The left stick and a trigger button can also be used to perform wraparound dribbles, jab steps, and step-back moves.

The right analogue stick this time is also used for shooting: it lets players add some flavour to their shots. If one is stationary and toggles up on the stick, their player raises up for a standard jumper and releasing the stick releases the ball.

Be warned, these controls are not necessarily easy for a casual fan to pick up, but hardcore ballers will definitely enjoy the fruits of mastering them.

To a large extent, I felt players didn`t move realistically, especially some of the back-pedalling animation, there`s a sense of sliding or moon-walking in the movement.

On the upside the two pass buttons, both regular and lead passing (throwing a pass to a team mate heading for the basket), contributes a lot to making the game feel a little more authentic.

On the rebounding side, my main gripe is there doesn`t seem to be a way to get in a real defensive stance to help stay in front of ball handlers. You really have to pay close attention to stay in front of your man.

However the new "strip and rip" steal system using the right analogue stick is a major plus which lets one poke at the ball with either hand, slap down, or punch upward.

Although hard to get used to at first, once mastered one can strip players just as they go up for a dunk or layup, or punch freshly rebounded balls out of the opposition.

True NBA fans will also appreciate that the teams and players in NBA 2K6 really do seem to play almost like their real-life counterparts.

Playing defence is also a challenge and requires a good amount of concentration. The CPU is quite merciless if the player has not mastered the gameplay yet. It also has the habit of separating the best ball handler from the rest so as to catch you on a fast break.

Much like last year`s College Hoops 2K5, scouts can be sent out to evaluate prospects during the year in preparation for the draft. In the offseason, the prospects can be brought in for individual workouts and actually play in games or scrimmages to test their skill levels.

There`s also a new development system for existing players by using training points to run players through a series of drills that are actually mini-games.

Essentially, just like the real game, the ultimate goal is to build up the best possible team to go into the championship and win it.

Other features in NBA 2K6 include the usual tournament, season, and street modes, where one can play street-style games like two on two, three on three, or 21 in various real-life and fantasy courts.

The game is not for the casual player due to the sheer difficulty of the game, and new features may be a little overwhelming for someone who is used to the likes of NBA Jam or NBA Street.

Even as a hardcore basketball fan, I was not all that impressed. I can only give this game a generous 6/10, just because I live the game.