In the Zone 2
Konami has released the follow-up title to their successful In the Zone basketball game. In the Zone 2 looks to correct all of the shortcomings of the original title plus add some unexpected improvements. This second release boasts a bounty of new options and features which include full season play, full rosters, substitutions, player stamina levels, trading, and a player creation option. Now, I know you are saying "pretty standard stuff. What else does it have to offer?" Well, I'm glad you asked. Throw in graphics that actually replicate moves that mimick the real NBA player, enhanced defense and rebounding, bumping, hard checking, pushing, screens, post-up plays, offensive fouls and continuation fouls. How is that for some real NBA action?
The original title was plagued with being very short-sighted. It basically amounted to a 5 on 5 version of NBA Jam. Get the ball and dunk or shoot a three. There were no bench players or defense. The team that ended up making the most dunks usually prevailed. Another annoyance was the mostly worthless replay after every shot. Do all of the new features in In the Zone 2 correct these shortcomings? Pretty darned close.
In making a part 2 of any game, the idea is to improve upon the areas that were lacking in the first and to add even more. This was a major focus for In the Zone 2. The first game was a worthy effort for the first basketball title to hit the 32-bit market but definitely fell short in the gameplay department. Our friends at Konami must have listened to the public outcry and have improved the new title to the point that it could almost have been given a completely different name.
Let's talk defense. This was the killer in the original title. I guess I should say the lack of defense was the killer. Well, In the Zone 2 seems to have made defense a priority. The dunks are fewer and farther between, which actually makes them better. If you dunk on every play, the effect sort of wears off. But the defense makes it difficult to drive to the hole for the monster jam. When you do spot the seam and make it to the rack, the dunk is much sweeter. The computer AI has stepped up, and there is rarely an open lane for the jam. Don't get me wrong. The dunks are still here, but the game is far more realistic than the first. The options for defensing have also increased. The addition of a full court press, call for double teams, setting players to prevent the offense from driving to the hole, and setting up to take offensive charges give In the Zone 2 an abundance of defensive options to stop your opponent.
Now we couldn't have all of these defensive options without giving the offensive player some moves of his/her own. That would make the game unfair. The game gives you 2 buttons that can be assigned as formation calls. Players can be assigned to these buttons. So, let's say you want to post Shawn Kemp down in the paint. Push the formation button and he will post up against his defender. This gives you the option to try a move to get past the defender for the jam, or if the double team comes, kick out to the open player for the three. This ability to actually call set plays is an example of the depth of this game. This is just one piece of your offensive arsenal. Another cool addition is the ability to call for a screen. With the push of one button, you can call the closest member of your team to set a screen on the player so you can slide around or take the jump shot with no defender in your face. This means that you are not just controlling the player with the ball, but you also have some limited control over the computer-controlled players. This eliminates your buddy's complaining that the computer is doing all of the work. There are also a number of offensive moves that your player can execute. Driving to the basket, spin moves, double-clutch shots and alley-oop dunks are all available in the right situations.
One trend over the last couple of years in sports games is player statistics. Everyone wants every detailed stat possible. If you are one of these types of gamer, you will not be disappointed. This game packs every stat you could imagine in every way you could imagine them. You can look at your stats, the opposition's stats, compare teams or compare players by position. You have a box score that includes field-goals attempted and made, field-goal percentage, 3 pointers attempted and made, 3 pointer percentage, free-throws attempted and made, free-throw percentage, rebounds, blocks, steals, assists and total points. Is that enough?
Another disappointing aspect of the original title was that you didn't have a bench. You were stuck with the starting 5 players to play the whole game. That was lame. Once again, Konami has listened to the collective cry of lameness and fixed this. Now you have all 12 players on every team at your disposal. This also adds to the longevity of this title. With the trading option, you can always keep your favorite team current. The bench players also gave Konami the ability to add player stamina. They figured that since they are giving you bench players, you damn well better use them. So, as the game wears on, your player stamina diminishes. The faster the game action, the more a player's stamina is used up. As your stamina is used up, you can no longer use your speed burst and your player becomes noticeably slower. Just like in real basketball, stamina can be regained by calling a time out or by sitting the player down for a little while. This adds a whole new dimension to playing the game. You have to use something called strategy. Hmmm…
In the Zone 2 has some pretty decent graphics under its belt. I had a friend call and ask if I had seen this game yet. He said he was walking through the shopping mall and saw a demo playing in a store window and from a distance, he couldn't tell if it was an actual game on NBC or a video game. I think that is a bit exaggerated, but the point is that the graphics look good. Your players are polygons that have the features, characteristics and moves of the real NBA stars. The players are distinct enough to tell who they are. Due to a certain few players that have agreements with other companies, their names can't be used, but M. Guard on the Bulls sure looks familiar.
Konami has done an exceptional job with In the Zone 2. This is one of the best basketball games available to date. It is very refreshing to see a company take the effort to correct all of the problems from a previous release instead of making a few minor changes, updating rosters and calling it part 2. The whole scope of the game seems to have changed from reckless abandon to calculated strategy. There is enough arcade-style action to please the people who enjoy the fast-paced, west coast style game, and there is enough strategy to please the eastern conference, slow down gamers. If you are a die hard basketball fan and can't live without a good basketball video game, you will not be disappointed with this one. Between In the Zone 2 and Bottom of the 9th, Konami is turning into a quite a force in the realm of sporting titles.
Download In the Zone 2
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP