NBA ShootOut 2003 Review

NBA ShootOut 2003 is an appropriate name for this 989 Sports basketball game because like an NBA All Star game, it provides a lot of offensive fireworks and leaves defense as an afterthought.  In fact, playing on defense consists of trying to keep a man between the ball handler and the basket and trying to steal the ball.  Unfortunately your computer-controlled fellow defenders never seem to be able to collapse a lane and steals are pretty hard to come by, so you'll often feel like you are fighting a losing battle on D.  It almost seems like the game's designers knew the defense was a little soft, so to make up for it they made shot blocking a more frequent occurrence.  While there are more shots blocked in NBA ShootOut 2003 than in most video basketball games, the frequency of blocks is actually more realistic when compared to actual NBA games.

ScreenshotsOn the other side of the court it is a different matter entirely.  The frustration or impotence you may feel from trying to put together a strong defense disappears entirely when you go on the attack.  You have a lot of control over your player and your offense, including play calling, setting picks and screens, and the ability to perform special moves and fakes by using the right analog stick.  Your computer controlled teammates also do a good job of trying to get open and posting up, making it easy to run a high-scoring offense.

Should you want to put your own personal stamp on your high-scoring machine, you can use the game's create a dunk feature to design your own signature dunk.  You can rotate several different points of articulation (arms, wrists, head, legs, etc.) and the game will game will integrate your dunk with the approach and landing.  You can actually create a lot of possible dunks, including some that would take Superman to pull off.  Pressing R1 and L1 together while pressing the shoot button will cause the player to use your custom designed dunk in a game.

NBA ShootOut 2003 features all the NBA teams and players, and you can play single game matches, or try to guide a team through a season or just the playoffs.  The game will track all the individual and team stats that you could want, and let you browse through them as the season or playoffs progress.  Each season includes an All Star game, and you can track the All Star balloting as the game draws nearer.

NBA ShootOut 2003 also features a unique career mode that let's you create a player and guide his career.  You can customize your player's name and appearance (putting yourself in the game if you'd like), select his position, and tweak his ratings to create a selfless John Stockton type of point guard or a "just give me the ball", Karl Malone style forward.  As your career progresses, your on-court performance will translate into improved skills and ratings, so you can watch your player develop into an even better athlete.

Once your player is created, you begin by playing in the NBA Summer League.  Depending on your performance, you may either be offered a contract to play in the NBA or move on to the NBA's development league, the NBDL.  During games, you can control any player on your team as normal, but you'll find that you want to get your career player the ball as often as possible.  While "there is no I in team,"  career mode is all about you and can be a lot of fun in an egotistical, ball-hogging kind of way.  Career mode does suffer from one quirk, though.  When determining whether or not you get a contract, it seems that the game looks strictly at your stats and does not adjust for the length of the games played.  If you start out by playing 15 minute quarters in the Summer League, you can virtually guarantee yourself an NBA contract by the time Fall comes around.