NBA 08 Review
Over the past few years, Sony has managed to make decent strides with their NBA franchise. Debuting NBA 06 with its all new "The Life" mode, the series managed to get a solid shot of life, as the game was met with better than expected criticism - albeit still far from anything great. But now that we're in the new generation, should we really expect the NBA franchise to change much on the PS2 when Sony is concentrating more on improving the PlayStation 3 version? The answer is obvious, and I personally wouldn't recommend NBA 08 for the PlayStation 2.
NBA 08 feels nearly identical to NBA 07, so aside from a few minute changes, this is a roster update, at best. The unfortunate thing for the PS2 version of NBA 08 is that it brings absolutely nothing new to the table. So if you've played NBA 06 and/or 07, you won't find much in NBA 08 - not even with The Life vol. 3. That's a shame too, because while the PS3 and PSP versions are seeing something significant improvements, the PS2 version isn't given that same treatment.
First thing you should know about NBA 08 on the PS2 is that it is nothing like the PlayStation 3 version at all. There is no Progression System, there is no NBA Replay mode, and the A.I. is significantly dumber across all difficulties. On Rookie I'm able to create a 20 point lead within the first quarter. On Veteran, I can keep it at 10-15. On All-Star it's about 5 or so, and Hall-of-Fame it'll be a fairly even game. For reference when playing Veteran on the PS3 version, I already find myself having some trouble, as my games are quite close.
Furthermore, the A.I. isn't aggressive at all - I can't count how many times I've had breakaways or had an open guy further up the court that I fed the ball to. There's just a plethora of poor mistakes that the A.I. performs, and they're all too dumb to not notice. The same shot-meter mechanic continues to exist in NBA 08, but it looks like it's difficulty is more dependent on only a very limited number of factors (such as game difficuty and fatigue) as opposed to the much broader range of factors that NBA 08 factors into every shot.
Aside from The Life vol. 3, modes include Exhibition, Season, Playoffs, Manage Team, and Minigames. There are 13 minigames for you to play, such as Own the Court, 3-Point Contest, Skills Challenge, 2-on-2, a series of Drills, Free Throw, and Shoot Around. From what I recall, these are all the very same minigames that were found in last year's game. Skills Challenge continues to be weird, requiring a puzzling method of aiming, then passing, a ball through a hollow basket on the floor, picking up another ball of the rack, running around two-dimensional cutouts...it's just weird, let's leave it at that. Own the Court is a game where you have to dominate the most amount of spots on the court by taking shots from the markers on the floor. The player with the most spots complete, after time runs out, wins. And I'm sure you know what the 3-Point Challenge is all about, as well all the other modes.
The controls are pretty decent, and there's, thankfully, no jerky stopping when a pass is made and received - the action always continues. And if you'd like to go multiplayer, NBA 08 supports two players online, eight via multitaps, and also the usage of headsets during online matches.
The graphics have remained practically identical to NBA 07, which isn't much of a surprise. Furthermore, they're certainly not powerhouse visuals either. Even though the game does offer a progressive scan mode, it still doesn't ail the average framerate and the dated visuals, overall. The lighting looks really flat and extremely pale sometimes. Additionally, detail per athlete is sorely lacking in some cases - as some players have abnormally large bodies with tiny heads. Very unusual.
Animations are jarring to watch sometimes, and the collision detection is nothing short of dated, much like NBA 08 is as a whole. As noted earlier, there is a progressive scan option, but it doesn't conceal the aliasing issues very well in the game, unfortunately. The bottom-line is there's definitely a lot of room for improvement out of NBA 08 on the PS2, but it just doesn't seem like it's something Sony will be investing much interest into - it's far too late.
Finally, the sound in NBA 08 doesn't do much to improve over last year's game, either. In fact, it seems like almost nothing has changed. The commentary lacks any real depth, and its primarily play-by-play done by Kevin Calabro, with Mark Jackson doing the color. Now even though Mark Jackson is supposed to be the color commentator, he never really delivers anything worth laughing or even smiling about. NBA Live 08's commentary with Marv Albert and Steve Kerr definitely comes off sounding more realistic, as opposed to NBA 08.
The PlayStation 2 version of NBA 08 is nothing like its PlayStation 3 counterpart. This one fails in nearly every aspect, largely due to poor attention to detail in visuals, awful A.I., and a severe lack of new features. This is a roster update, at best, and I'd much rather suggest you go out and pick up a copy of NBA 06 or NBA 07 and save yourself the money. There just isn't anything to love about NBA 08 on the PlayStation 2.
10/24/2007 Arnold Katayev