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a game by Visual Concepts Entertainment, Inc.
Platforms: XBox, Playstation 2
Editor Rating: 5/10, based on 1 review
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 3 votes
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See also: Sport Games, Sports Management Games, Basketball Video Games, NBA Video Games, ESPN Games

Released in 2004 for the Playstation 2, ESPN NBA 2K5 is a basketball simulation game developed by Visual Concepts, and published by Sega and Global Start Software. Receiving enormous appraisal from fans and critics, the title was specifically lauded for its gameplay, and visual graphics.

Sport games are steady titles that can be expected every year, with few and far apart mechanics and ideas being tested every iteration. This process happens countless times, and then the best received improvements are retained and become a staple in a series. And ESPN NBA 2K doesn’t break the norm, it is marginally better than its predecessors, and not the best basketball title we had at the time. Nonetheless, here we see the initial foundations of what would become the most dominant basketball series until today.

Beat The Buzzer

The game’s best aspect is the realism it portrays, detail like the sweat from the players, to the amazing crowd that reacts accordingly to plays, the televised camera angles, to the professional commentaries,. It is clear that this game was built with immersion in mind. All this attention to detail pays off as the game truly feels alive.

The game’s worst aspect is also its shortcoming in the realism department. For those unfamiliar with basketball, most of what was said above might be enough to portray a simulation, yet for veterans the game is very drive-oriented, and mostly ignores all the personalities and traits that make each player unique.

The game also had its shares of technical difficulties, mainly in regards to AI behaviour. Some parts might also feel slightly unpolished for the trained eyes, which might make the title feel sloppy or rushed all around, but to be fair at release the game had one of the lowest, most competitive prices. This might explain why it didn’t feel like the best 2K could offer.

Courtside View

ESPN NBA 2K offers multiple game modes: Association Mode, 24/7 Mode, Tournament Mode, Street Mode. Aside from the Tournament Mode, that mirrors regular games, the rest of them are pretty forgettable. Association Mode, felt tedious, broken and repetitive, especially in the “Full Authority” mode. Finally, the 24/7 mode felt lackluster to say the least, playing mini-games, building a player, developing him and taking him online, felt like an unrewarding grind, even if it helped lay the foundation for the major improvements we have today.

Playing defense is fun and full of opportunities, and more often than not the AI does a good job on understanding what it should be doing, and obeying commands. Even if some fast handlers are almost impossible to keep up and defend, defense gameplay is solid and fun. The same cannot be said for offense, the playbooks and plays are a very welcome and positive addition to the game, particularly because the AI runs plays, scripts and screens in a natural fashion, yet the “IsoMotion” feature doesn’t really come as second nature and that can make for unbalanced matches between players.


ESPN NBA 2K5, has marginal improvements over its predecessors, however it is one of 2K’s weakest entries. NBA Live as a competitor, had an edge over 2K, for what would seem like the last time in 2004. The game has good ideas, concepts, and new features that bring the game alive, and clearly help set up the future success that the series will enjoy.


This felt like the most unpolished version of the game, with AI and game modes varying from great to awful. As with most sports games it becomes better with friends, and I highly recommend you enjoy it with someone, as otherwise this is an average game at best.


  • Realism
  • Crowd Reactions
  • Defensive Options
  • Professional Commentaries


  • Offensive Controls
  • Low Number of Animation (dunks, lay-ups, etc..)
  • AI Issues
  • Soundtrack
  • Association and 24/7 Mode are Tedious

Download ESPN NBA 2K5


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Playstation 2

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Snapshots and Media

XBox Screenshots

Playstation 2 Screenshots

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