NBA 09: The Inside Review
NBA 09: The Inside box art
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.

NBA 09: The Inside screenshot

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.

By Pete Richards
CCC Freelance Writer

Unimpressive stadiums and character models along with rough animations make the in-game graphics seem incredibly dated for this next-gen offering.
Basic controls offer an alternative to other NBA titles with an arcade style that is not without its flaws and noticeable physics issues. Unresponsive A.I. and other issues seriously hurt the play experience
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Commentary is slow and repetitive. Cutscene voiceover work is actually one the game's saving-graces.
Play Value
The amount of mini-games and ability to replay each challenge offers a lot of variety, though poor mechanics become frustrating and will have many players shutting off their consoles in mid-game.
Overall Rating - Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • The Life : Available on PS3 for the first time, players will go behind the scenes in this unique mode and experience the life of an NBA professional, balancing interaction with coaches, teammates, and rivals.
  • Franchise Mode: For the first time on the NBA franchise, players can extend their experience in running a team where performance and player morale are tracked on virtually every level.
  • Enhanced Gameplay and A.I.: Along with core fundamentals, NBA 09: The Inside improves on individual and team gameplay elements. Additionally the revised dunk/lay-up system factors in player position and situation of ball-handler/defender to create a variety of action around the rim. A Fast Break recognition system is now in place, allowing A.I. to fill the lanes and push the ball during offense.
  • Online League Access: Utilizing an online hub where players can readily share game features and data, NBA 09 provides a streamlined approach for online basketball gaming. For this year, gamers will be able to participate in a social environment where they can easily show off custom created players and gain access to improved leaderboards.
  • Expanded Character Movement: A new contact mechanism takes into account a player's momentum when pushing into one another, introducing a physical game play mechanic.
  • Screen Resolution: Up to 1080p (Full HDTV).

  • Screenshots / Images
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