|System: PS3, PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SCEA San Diego||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SCEA (SONY)||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 7, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Button setup is pretty traditional. Left Analog controls player movement and the Right performs trick moves. Square is used for dunking or layups depending on your proximity to the basket and Circle is your shoot button. What's unique about shooting in The Inside is it uses a press, hold, release mechanic with a meter that fills up above the shooter's head. As it fills to the green point, releasing Circle will be a sure bucket and the same mechanic is also used at the free-throw line, which works well.
However, this is anything but your realistic basketball simulation. Whereas other companies have attempted to bring you the most realistic basketball gameplay with control setups that read like algebra textbooks, this is incredibly simple and arcade-like. Fouls are pretty rare as you swipe away at the ball to steal it from the ball carrier, and the game lacks any really cool animations to make it lifelike. Calling plays is essential, as you're A.I. teammates are pretty much useless and don't move around on their own. You'll notice shots count that don't appear to even go in the net and lots of other noticeable flaws in physics. In all, the on-court action may not need a complete makeover, but it does need a lot of reworking that doesn't seem to have been improved much from last year.
The graphics are very standard, especially when compared to both EA and 2K's offerings this year. On-court action is choppy and the audience moves in complete unison with animations that look extremely dated for a next-gen game with "09" in the title. Player models look off and stadium designs are far less detailed than what they could be. Commentating seems to come late in some situations often slow and choppy, with comments so vague they can be used to describe a number of situations. Comments such as "His aim was off there" can be used for pretty much any missed shot and you hear it often.
Other than The Life mode, the game features a season League mode, far less detailed than other NBA game seasons on the market. You can customize rosters and control player drafts and trades while taking your franchise to the playoffs, typical of what you would expect from such a mode. There are also several Mini-Games including one-on-one, rabbit, and the All-Star Weekend skills challenge and three-point competitions, which are fun in short sittings, offering some variety to the game.
In such a heated competition between licensed NBA titles on the market, The Inside is still in the developmental stages as such a young franchise. Their gameplay offers a more casual style of basketball compared to EA and 2K's on-court mechanics, though problems that occurred last year still pop up in 09, giving little reason for anyone who didn't like the previous installment to want to check this one. It's a shame too because NBA 09: The Inside has a lot of good qualities. Simply, the bad ones outweigh them.
CCC Freelance Writer