The champ is here. 2K Sports and Visual Concepts have taken an already great game, thrown in a few new features and an extra layer of polish, and produced yet another near-perfect basketball game in NBA 2K9. EA’s NBA Live is coming on strong, but NBA 2K9 is still the best basketball game around.
- Title: NBA 2K9
- Platform: Xbox 360
- Publisher: 2K Sports
- Developer: Visual Concepts
- ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
- Genre: Basketball
- Pros: Living rosters; solid presentation; plenty of modes; excellent gameplay; fast load times
- Cons: Controls aren’t exactly intuitive; ugly player models
For the most part, the features list is pretty much like last year. Quick Play, The Association which is 2K’s dynasty mode, and NBA Blacktop where you can play streetball or do dunk and 3-Point contests are back and as solid as ever. 2K’s deep options for game customization also return, so you can adjust sliders and play with the rosters to make the game play exactly how you like. The sheer number of modes and options in NBA 2K9 will keep you busy for a long time to come.
But that new additions to the game are where the real story is. Similar to EA’s Live 365 updates, NBA 2K9 has Living Rosters that will constantly change throughout the season with trades or injuries. Player ratings will also change as the season goes on, and new animations will even be added to make the players play more like their real world counterparts.
Online options have also been beefed up with the ability to play full 5 on 5 games with 10 people. You can also share rosters, sliders, and videos. The leagues and other game modes are all fully intact as well and the gameplay is surprisingly smooth online.
As always, 2K really shines when you get out on the court. The controls aren’t the most intuitive you’ll find – there are several pages worth of commands in the instruction manual and they don’t quite cover everything – but once you get the basics down and learn a few moves you are good to go. The complicated controls are a big part of why NBA 2K9 is so realistic, and it just wouldn’t be the same game without dual player controls, the deep list of moves in the post, iso-motion ball handling, and all the rest. Pretty much anything you see happen in a real NBA game can and will happen in 2K9. Players are animated to move and shoot and behave just like their real world selves. And the A.I. generally does a good job of playing realistically although there are a few hiccups here and there. When you get everything figured out and learn how to play well, NBA 2K9 is incredibly satisfying and just plain feels right.
Graphics and Sound
As far as the presentation goes, NBA 2K9 is a very nice looking game. The animation is absolutely top notch and is definitely the best in the business. The arenas and crowd also look really good, and the default camera angle makes the game look exactly like a real event. The only issue with the graphics is that the players don’t quite look right. Star players have pretty accurate faces, but most players only kind of, sort of, look like they should. This has been a problem for a while now with 2K basketball and really should be fixed.
The sound is very solid overall. Great sounds from the court. Surprisingly good crowd interaction. And good announcing all add up to a pretty decent sounding game.
All in all, NBA 2K9 is a great basketball game that is highly recommended. The presentation is great, and you just can’t beat the sheer number of features and modes available. The controls can be a bit overwhelming for new players, but once you get everything figured out it plays like a dream and offers the most realistic and satisfying basketball gameplay you’ll find on the Xbox 360. NBA fans, NBA 2K9 is well worth picking up.