Hoops games are a dime a dozen these days, but very few have ever gotten it completely right. As such, the quest for the ultimate fa-ball game continues, and Sega Sports along with internal U.S. development team Visual Concepts, are throwing their hat into the ring with MBA 2000 (working title), Sega's 128-Bit, Dreamcast-powered basketball juggernaut.
Featuring 1600-1700 motion-captured animations, NBA 2000 displays some of the most realistic, lifelike movements yet found in a sports game. While there are still some issues regarding ball placement (players look like they're palming the ball at the moment), the graphics are astounding, from both the complexity of the player models (each face has been texture-mapped with the actual player's face, i.e., Latrell Sprewell looks like himself) to the exceptionally detailed arenas. Ad banners hang from the rafters and, should you want to, you can see all the way up to the ceiling via the free-roaming camera. To say the level of detail in the game is incredible would be an understatement. The crowd is made up of individual sprites as opposed to mooshy-looking blurs like you'll find on the PS or N64. Details like players tattoos will be in place, as will other things like hair, goggles, knee-pads, elbow pads, socks...you name it. In fact, the game is so detail-precise, if you use the camera to scrutinize even the most minute detail, zoom in on a player and you can see the little mesh-holes on his jersey. There are even polygonal coaches stalking the sidelines. Look out!
As previously stated, the number of motion-captured animations is staggering, but unlike many other mo-cap-heavy games, this does not compromise the control. Usually you have to wait until the end of a mo-cap sequence before you can enter another command, making gameplay often frustrating and unresponsive. In NBA 2000, every move is interruptible, making the video game as spontaneous as the real-life game. Going up for a lay-up or a slam, but think the traffic is a little too heavy? Then heave a no-look pass behind your back or dish to the open man flanking the perimeter, with no sacrifice in response time. Visual Concepts is also keeping the little things in mind, such as making iit easier to run down the baseline without going out of bounds while attempting a three from the corner.
Scheduled to arrive in time for the beginning of the next NBA season, NBA 2000 is going straight for the jugular, taking on the likes of NBA Live with extreme confidence. One of the most promising basketball games to come around in a long while, b-ball fans will want to pay close attention to how this one develops.
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Like its NFL counterpart, NBA 2000's gonna raise the roof when console gamers get a look at its slick graphics. The player models sport an impressive level of detail--their faces are so realistic, you'll recognize famous athletes in a flash. Even the arenas look tight, from the scoreboard to the hometown crowds that cheer and boo the action. The game even features fully animated coaches, refs, and scorers tables. Best of all, Sega's promising a speed of 60 frames per second, which is wicked fast
As far as features go, details were still scarce at press time. Each team plays in the style of its real-life counterpart and NBA coaches designed the playbooks. Players will respond to in-game situations like their real-life counterparts, too...but that probably doesn't mean Rodman will take off mid-season to hit the craps tables in Vegas. Along with all the pros, NBA 2000 will also provide four-player action, trades, and season play. As long as the gameplay keeps up with the razzle-dazzle, NBA 2000 should tip off to plenty of interest from the hoops crowd.
The next generation of sports games for the Dreamcast will be hitting a virtual court near you this fall, starting with Visual Concepts' already outstanding-looking NBA 2000. Forget what you think you know about the graphics in hoops games--this title contains hyper-realistic eye-candy like you've never seen before. For starters, each athlete will be imbued with lifelike details, including accurate placement of wristbands, elbow pads, and even tattoos. Visual Concepts will also use eight body types instead of just one to accurately sculpt each player. Other projected graphical highlights include 100-plus dunk animations, authentic replications of every NBA stadium, coaches pacing the sidelines, a layered interactive 3D crowd, active scorers' tables, and more.
While NBA 2000 is still early in development, Visual Concepts is looking to round out the incredible graphics with competitive A.I. opponents that will play and react to in-game action with court smarts. It also plans to infuse each team with its appropriate playing style, so the Lakers use their run-and-gun offense, but the Heat use their slow-paced defense-first attack. This design plan gives NBA 2000 superstar potential.