NBA 2k3 is easily the most 'realistic'? basketball simulation game on the market. The player movements are all nice, the look and feel of the players is accurate, and it simulates game play very well. More to the point, it isn't as much of an arcade game like some of its peers. This is good for the realism (bad for the speed of play). An addition this year is the detail put into the players. I would say the major stars all look very realistic, while the lesser known ones aren't that identifiable.
This game has all the standard fare features for the genre: franchise, season, playoffs, practice, quick game, and a nice street ball mode which allows 2 v. 2 all the way up to 5 v. 5.
In player creation, you seemingly have infinite ability to really tweak the look of your new player. I created my player then added two additional players. One was ENORMOUS and the other was MINISCULE. My big guy was only 300 pounds, but all of his body parts were cylinders. I mean he was a walking marshmallow man (who was a 'finesse'? center). Seeing him nimbly jump around was hilarious compared to everyone else and completely ridiculous. My skinny guy on the other hand, was essentially the invisible man. I made his muscle structure so thin I couldn't see anything but a really skinny head. That was just dumb and shouldn't even be allowed. Also, the interface of menus just seemed awkward and annoying at times, where I was often asked if I really wanted to do what I had just selected I wanted to do, even when trying to just leave a menu. Now for the real gripes'
The game play as mentioned before was just really slow. I eventually turned up the speed, because honestly I want to be able to beat at least one person to the hoop. The players all moved at relatively the same speed that even doing jukes and then diving to the hoop often resulted in a defender implanted to my hip the whole way to the hoop. That was just frustrating as I was then required to take a tough shot, when I'm using the fastest guard in the league. Also, post moves just aren't as cleanly executed as Inside Drive. It is pretty difficult to pull off a nice move in the lane without getting the ball pounded out to the fifth row. The default shot settings were just way to competitive. I'm all for realistic percentages, but an All-Star power forward is not going to miss a wide open two-foot shot more than once in a row.
Despite these shortcomings, the game had many nice features like online ability'the major reason why I'd recommend this game. The game is easy to set up and although I was getting some heavy lag at the end of the game, it was most likely due to connection problems rather than game design. In any event, this is a HUGE selling point for this game. Just the ability to compete against others is why I'd recommend the game.
Overall, the game executes many required features very well, innovates on a few others, and only stumbles in minor areas. This, combined with the Xbox Live ability, makes it the only worthy NBA purchase for the Xbox this year. Bottom Line: people looking for a NBA game should look no further.