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Commonwealth Games 2002

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  Friday, 17 May, 2002, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
Let's play: NBA Courtside
BBC Sport Online reviewer Darren Waters defies gravity with the GameCube's first basketball game.

Basketball video games tend to be only moderately popular in the UK, a reflection perhaps of the limited interest in the sport as a whole in the country.

But in the United States, where the game is huge, computer game versions are all keenly anticipated.

NBA Courtside
The players look realistic and move fluidly
NBA Courtside 2002 is the first such game for Nintendo's new GameCube and comes with all the officially licensed team, logos, strips and players.

As one would expect with a title for a next-generation console, the audio and video qualities of the game are of a high standard.

Eye-catching

The movement of the players is very realistic and fluid and the commentary, while repititious, is accurate and adds to the authentic feel of the game.

  NBA Courtside 2002
Format: GameCube
Price: 34.99
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Sport
The crowd and substitute player animations, who stand, chant, fidget and even drink and eat snacks are really eye-catching.

It is a simple game to pick up and play and within minutes you will be defying gravity as Shaquille O'Neal and slam-dunking baskets with relish and venom.

To basketball novices the tactical complexity of the sport, often hidden beneath the you-score, they-score rhythm, may be bewildering but is essential to get to grips with if you want to master the game.

Computer-controlled teams will ruthlessly expose deficiencies at the higher settings and run away with victory if you are not careful.

There are the usual options to play friendlies, a full season, or even take the superstars out on to an outdoor practice court for three-on-three play.

Hard toil

Unfortunately in the latter option, the players still wear their competitive uniforms which looks a little incongruous and really the designers should have put a bit more effort in.

Of course the final test of such a game, like actual sport itself, is whether hours of practice and hard toil does indeed reap benefits on the virtual court.

But standing with the ball in hand as the clock ticks down and with one basket needed to win the game the question is - does it matter how proficient you have become?

Sadly not. You press the button and the ball flies through the air and it is almost completely random whether or not you score.

Sport, virtual or otherwise, should never be like this.

It is the ultimate failing of an otherwise polished game.

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