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NBA ShootOut 2002
Score: 88%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: 989 Sports
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 8 (Multitap)
Genre: Sports

Graphics & Sound:
I must say I was a bit disappointed by the graphics and sound of NBA ShootOut 2002. Player models didn't reach out and grab my attention as with other titles. In fact, the players seemed quite blocky, and it was somewhat hard to distinguish between different players on the court. Adding to the frustration was very poor commentary. In an instant I was transformed back to the 16-bit era of gaming because of the choppy uttering coming from the announcer's mouth.

Adding to the voice-overs is the stadium announcer who rattles off names like 'Shaquiiiiille O'Neeeeal' after an earth-shattering dunk. Unfortunately, this only happens for the stars of the game, and could have easily been added for each and every player on the floor. One thing I did love in the game was the crowd. For the first time I've ever seen, the crowd actually got involved in the games. Not just sitting on their hands, this time they jump up and down and make noise during free throws. Now, if only they had those big foam hands or long colored wiener-thingies to wave around as a distraction.


Gameplay:
Ahh... the heart of the game. NBA ShootOut 2002 may be graphically lacking, but the gameplay makes up for it in a big way. Sure, the game doesn't have any 'special' modes of play, but the original three are here: Exhibition, Season, and Playoffs. Seasons can be 28, 56, or 82 games long, with a playoff option of either a 5-7-7-7-game series or single elimination, with the winner moving on toward the NBA Finals. In the meantime, you have total control over everything from your Create-A-Players to Roster Edits and Trade Deadlines. You can even start fresh with a new Draft for the season.

One of my favorite features in ShootOut 2002 is that 989 Sports has implemented User Records to keep track of your personal game stats. The User Records not only do this alone, but also let you know how you fair against other players or the computer. All you need is a memory card and two free blocks of memory.

Are you tired of the same old sports games? Well, the bar has just been raised. 989 Sports has come up with something that can (and I'm sure will) be the start of an infinite number of possibilities... the Create-A-Dunk!!! Let me tell you, this is sweet! In NBA ShootOut 2002, you get a chance to tweak everything from the style of dunk to the angle and twist of basically every joint in the human body. It's up to you how incredible you make your dunks. The only limit is your imagination. And the best part about the Create-A-Dunk? Simple. As my mind wonders, I think of the expanded possibilities for future games. These possibilities include creating player-specific dunks, creating special moves for players, and the future addition of a slam dunk contest where the user doesn't just pick from a list of dunks, but completely creates the dunks from scratch! We can only hope that gaming companies hear our cries!!!


Difficulty:
ShootOut 2002 has four levels of difficulty. Rookie and Veteran are a fair challenge, but to win at All-Star and Hall of Fame, you will need to execute perfectly. Another huge factor in difficulty is whether or not you have the Close Scores option turned on. With this, the computer will allow comebacks so that the entire game is often on the line at the final buzzer.

Game Mechanics:
Whether it's cycling menus, viewing stats, or controlling your team, ShootOut 2002 is virtually perfect. The buttons of the PlayStation controller are ergonomically designed to fit your hand better, and the game's controls are a perfect fit to the PlayStation controller. Added features of the Total Control Passing and Switching allows you to feed the post man with ease or switch to a man underneath on defense to challenge the driving point guard.

The addition of the Create-A-Dunk is exclusive (I think) to NBA ShootOut 2002, and it's incredible that you can finally control what has to be the most exciting moment in all of basketball. And after the game, feel free to check out your shot chart and find out from where and just how many dunks you slammed through the iron.

There are a lot of basketball games on the market now, and making your purchase decision varies on a lot of factors. If you want a game with tons of eye candy, then look the other way. But if you want a game with some originality and smooth playability, then maybe you should pick up copy of NBA ShootOut 2002 for yourself.

PS2: If you have a PlayStation 2, you may know that you have the ability to try to bump up a normal PlayStation game's performance. Well, in the case of NBA ShootOut 2002, there did seem to be a decrease in loading time (slightly), and a noticeable improvement in the smoothness of textures. For those of you with a modded PSX, take special note that the disc does have copy protection and won't play in your modified PlayStation game console.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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