|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SCEA (SONY)||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 2, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
NBA 08 for the PS3 is Sony's failed attempt to put out a great basketball game for their high powered console. All they have achieved is a mildly entertaining title that is better than last year's version, but overall is just a waste of your time. NBA 08 boasts daunting visual specs, such as a high frame-rate and 1080p resolution output, yet the animations are very glitchy. Additionally, the clumsy controls, lack of play modes, and weak gameplay make for a boring overall experience. The creation of a top notch basketball simulator still seems to have eluded the designers over at SCEA.
I won't put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the developers, however. Basketball games are generally not as fun as their sporting counterparts. That being said, there are other franchises out there that actually do justice to the beloved sport. This game is really not much fun at all. Offensive and defensive positioning has supposedly been improved, but it still feels messy in the paint. You can set up a team offense or isolate specific players, but the end result is usually the same. Passing lanes are quickly cut off by the opposing defense so it is always better to pass the ball around the horn until you get the ball into the hands of your best shooter. After all, the easiest thing to do in the game is shoot the ball. The post-up play animations look better this year, but getting the ball into the paint can be difficult, especially on higher levels of difficulty. Passing, in general, is poorly done. Players are constantly stopping their momentum to receive the ball and it makes for frustrating play. I would love to make a leading bounce pass right into the path of an oncoming rhythm shooter. SCEA has tried to incorporate this by making shots easier after a good pass, but its implementation on the court is not easy. All in all, the tools that are provided are not efficiently used, resulting in stodgy gameplay from a bygone era. My suggestion would be to create a sweet player and go Cobi on the opposition. Finally, driving the lane is too difficult. Defenders cover you like a blanket, and when you run into them it's like hitting a brick wall. SCEA claims to have taken the physical aspects of gameplay into account, but more often than not your momentum will be stymied by a wall of overly effective defenders.
The visuals are also not up to snuff. It's a funny thing because at times they look really sharp and pleasant. The arenas are nicely rendered and the shiny floors and stadium atmosphere are well captured. However, there are a lot twitching, glitches, and spatial inconsistencies that act as a staunch reminder that you're just in your living room. Character faces are well done, but they seem distant and uninterested when in action due to painful movement animations. It often seems like you're playing with very detailed models or dolls that only bend in a few spots. This isn't always the case; in fact some of the moves you can perform are very fluid, but on the whole the animations look choppy. Sound is also not very good. The announcers are not particularly professional in their presentation. In fact, they sound like amateurs. Mark Jackson is not one for the booth. The ambient sounds are pretty solid though. The crowd noise and squeaky sneakers make for a realistic atmosphere. Overall, the sounds are a substantial improvement over last year because of the inclusion of play by play and color commentary. It goes to show that despite the fact that the announcers are not top notch, something is better than nothing.
The controls are decent, but should have been a lot better. I initially liked the simplicity, but after playing for a while I wanted expanded play calling and dribbling abilities. The Sixaxis motion controls are used more often this year which is horrendous. I was mortified to find out that half of the dribbling moves are mapped to the motion controls.