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Last Updated: Friday, 2 January 2004, 16:07 GMT
Let's play: ESPN NBA Basketball
By Paul Beevis

If phrases like "slam-dunk" and "tip-off" feature anywhere in your vocabulary then this latest offering from ESPN may get you jumping through hoops.

ESPN BASKETBALL
Format: PS2
Price: 39.99
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Basketball

As with their NFL Football and NHL Ice Hockey titles, you are greeted with a menu screen set around a news studio desk, which helps create a familiar feel.

Once there you can select a quick-start exhibition match or, if you're in a hurry, there are the options to play a franchise league or practice among others.

Go to play a game and the first thing you'll notice is how long the loading takes: s-o s-l-o-w.

To be fair they have tried to disguise this by adding a commentator talking about the match ahead, but play it a few times and you realise he's talking for the sake of it and none of it really matters.

Graphics wise it's not that hot, though there are some nice touches with the shiny court and the crowd frantically waving behind the basket when the opposition are attempting a free throw.

The sound is pretty much standard and, as with the graphics, doesn't really break any barriers and while there are two commentators, the dialogue often repeats itself and sometimes you find the commentators still talking about the previous point when you're already on the next one.

Having just slaughtered it I feel it's only fair to point out that with all its faults it does actually play quite well.

You have a speed boost, you can pivot and do all the standard basketball moves.

VERDICT
Graphics: 83%
Playability: 87%
Sound: 77%
Lastability: 87%
Overall: 82%

The X button always passes to your nearest team member but hit the triangle and for about two seconds you are presented with a button for each player enabling you to make an alternative pass.

Overall while it's actually quite fun it really is lacking in imagination, leaving it in the same league as many of its average competitors.

If you like basketball then there are worse games out there but is it really worth the 30 price tag? I'd be more inclined to purchase a ball and hoop and go outside to shoot some real hoops.






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