NBA Inside Drive 2003
Last year, NBA Inside Drive 2002 made a solid but unspectacular debut on the Xbox. Unfortunately, the lack of a franchise mode, coupled with suspect AI, left many sim fans longing for more. Well, it's a brand new year and NBA Inside Drive 2003 makes a fast break with a fully functional franchise mode, slightly improved graphics and a bevy of new moves.
Among other things, NBA Inside Drive 2003 now offers a Dynasty Mode, which allows you to play up to 25 seasons. Create and edit players and conduct a fantasy draft to build the team of your dreams. Unique to this mode is the ability to build up your players' ratings based on their performance during exhibition and season games. The game also offers a Practice Mode where you can work on passing, shooting, foul shooting, and of course, pullin' off all those fancy new moves. And speaking of new moves, the game features new dekes, jukes, and post-up moves. Overall, the game speed has been toned down a bit, replacing last year's arcade-fest with a more sim-like feel. Furthermore, adjustable sliders in several different categories allow for a highly customizable game-play experience. Sadly the AI, which governs your CPU-controlled teammates, will still leave you scratchin' your head. New stats for keeping track of double doubles and triple doubles are a welcome addition. For the most part, the controls are tight and responsive. Regrettably, the game lacks head-to-head online play. And considering all of the boasting from Microsoft's prelaunch marketing campaign about Xbox's online capabilities, this my friends, is unforgivable!
Courtside graphics and player-models are crisp and clean with detailed textures and colors aplenty. You might need a side-by-side comparison to notice any improvement from last year's game; nonetheless they do look nice. The facial features of the players are especially well done, with high-profile players bearing an uncanny likeness to their real-life counterparts. For the most part, animations are fast and smooth, but the overall pace of the game has been slowed down a bit, giving it a much more realistic feel. The sound effects are also well done, including competent and entertaining commentary from the trio of broadcasters and sideline reporter.
Despite a few nagging problems here and there, NBA Inside Drive 2003 comes off as a solid sequel to last year's effort. If you absolutely loved last year's game and really don't care about online play, this might be your ticket. From one gamer to another, however, I would advise you to check out the respective hoops titles from our friends over at EA Sports and Sega. Trust me, you want to see those games!