2K were nice enough to send me a copy of NBA2K8 this week. Which is funny, because the last not-NBA-Jam basketball game I played was NBA Live. 95. So what's changed in the interceding years? Oh, a whole bunch of stuff.
Well the game sure got prettier. I know it's easier when you've only got ten players on-screen at once, but my goodness, this game is easy on the eye. Mostly due to the animation - this is the first sports game I've ever seen (and NBA/NASCAR/MLB aside I play a lot of sports games) where fluid, realistic animations have actually been strung together, creating what for the most part actually looks like ten real humans playing basketball, rather than ten textured, polygonal constructs.
Pity, then, that's about where the enjoyment came to an end. I know basketball, and even used to play basketball, but this game is for basketball nuts. I am not a basketball nut. There's no shallow end, no "Ask Madden", no Pro Evo tutorials, you either know a fuckton about basketball or you're left in this game's wake. To break that down, there's no tutorials, so if you don't know bball and/or can't guess how the more advances controls work, well, you're stuffed.
This problem isn't helped by perhaps the worst manual in gaming history, even by sport's games paltry standards, which only lists button commands and doesn't explain a single damn thing about what's going on.
I'd love to tell you all about the campaign/season mode, or the sideshow attractions like a dunk competition, but I can't. Couldn't get into them, because I had no idea what was going on. Would loved to have told you about the depth of in-game options, or how the right-stick seemed to open up a world of offensive and defensive possibilities, but I can't. Couldn't use them, because neither the manual nor the game itself bothered to tell me how.
It's almost as if the game's being snooty. Refusing to dumb itself down for the common man like those tarts Madden, FIFA and Pro Evo. "You must know THIS much about basketball to play this game". Well, best of luck to it. Die-hard basketball fans, go knock yourselves out, I'm sure you can crack this game's tough outer shell and feast upon the moist, fleshy, delicious 5-on-5 action to be found within. The rest of us Regular Joes, however? This game most likely isn't for you. You don't know enough about basketball to deserve it.