Best video games: basketball edition

, Sunday, February 22, 2009 at 8:26 PM Comments (0)

How much better would this game have been with Jordan in it??? BOOMSHAKALAKA!

How much better would this game have been with Jordan in it??? BOOMSHAKALAKA!

We continue the series on sports video games with a look at basketball. If you want to take a look at the previous analysis of football games, discount click here. Now, nurse for a refresher of the rules, try we are only looking at true simulation games, so Jordan vs. Bird and NBA Jam don’t count. We are looking for overall fun, replayability, and not too many bugs. So, using the same four categories, here we go.

1) NBA Jamocity– As a reminder, this category looks at the games ability to create unreasonable successes/failures that seemingly screw the player. Basketball is a moderate offender in this category. Computer A.I. for your defense is often middling at best, and as a result you often suffer from opposing players draining three pointers as if they were free throws. Moreover, post defense and shot-blocking is still a long way from being perfected, and there is seemingly no way to stop someone or tell when a foul will occur. Add to that the fact that computer teams almost always get rebounds when they are needed, and you have several problems. However none of these problems is anywhere close to the problems in football games.

2) Flashing star analysis-Moderate. In many basketball games of the past, and even those today, the highest difficulty settings were all but impossible to enjoy except for the most obsessed and diligent players. However, some of the lower levels were far too easy to conquer. With the introduction of the gameplay sliders, a lot of these problems can be addressed, but it is often very difficult to make the game consistently challenging. In many games, especially the more recent ones, the computer will play a predictable defense and often leave certain players open all the time. If you have the right players in the right spots, this can often make you difficult to beat.

3) Fun factor-Moderately high. Dunking the ball in a video game will never be as exciting as it is in real life (and for some of us, dunking a ball is a feeling we will never know), but for the most part, the fun is transferable. In basketball, like few other video game sports, the announcers can add something to the game. If you get on a run and the crowd is loud, the announcers actually do get excited with you and help deliver the intensity of a real game. The only knock to basketball games is the effect the personnel have on the game. If you have bad players in a basketball video game, there is almost nothing you can do about it. It is difficult to win and compete, and not really too much fun.

4) NHL 97 Wraparound factor-Off the charts. This is where basketball games really suffer. They are often very buggy and contain problems that can really take away from the game. Players have always missed far too many layups. You would think that with the advancement of technology the problem would have gotten better, but it has actually gotten worse. With the increase in animations for layups and dunks, players often attempt dramatic shots instead of simple ones, and either miss or get blocked. There has been an attempt to solve this in recent years, but the controls are often so cumbersome that it isn’t easy to manage. The post game is also a problem. On offense in most games, your post players are either invincible or useless depending on competition, but there is almost no middle ground. This can be frustrating when playing with a great player and watching them get dominated by a lesser player. Steals can also be remarkably difficult to come by, with no seeming connection between attempts that garner a steal and ones that result in a foul. A non-game related, but equally vexing problem is the lack of stat equivalency on league leaderboards. Every game allows the player to set the length of halves, but the computer controlled players are almost always based off of a longer game, so for counting stats, player controlled players are at a dramatic disadvantage. In no other sport is this disparity as bad as it is in basketball. The good news is that there really are no invincible players anymore. Way back in the Super Nintendo era, there was a three point shooter for Oklahoma St that could hit every three from halfcourt, but most of those problems have been eliminated.

Next up in our series…hockey.

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