NBA 2K8 Review

Good video basketball games are an interesting phenomenon. On the one hand they can be fun to play and on the other they have trouble capturing the feel and the flow of the sport. Such is the case with NBA 2K8. It is fun to play and probably does the best job of recreating the sport in a videogame format than any other basketball game out there. So how come players can't seem to make a layup to save their lives?

NBA 2K8 deserves a lot of credit for not mailing in a roster update and calling it a day. This year's iteration of the series includes a number of new features, both in terms of game modes and the gameplay itself. Some of the changes are cosmetic, such as new player animations and signature moves. NBA 2K7 was a good-looking sports game but NBA 2K8 has managed to improve on it.

On the court there are a number of new game enhancements. Lock-On D allows you to stick to the player that you're guarding with a push of a button. If you use the right stick as well, you'll be able to control your hand positions while defending - keep them low to defend against a bounce pass and high to obstruct the basket and prevent longer passes. Lock-On D is an improvement to the defensive side of the game, but it hasn't perfected defense yet. Its main advantage is that it makes it harder for the man that you are guarding to blow past you and make a run straight for the hoop. Of course if the defense could ever be relied upon to collapse on an open lane or rotate coverage effectively then you wouldn't really need the Lock-On D feature.

On offense the biggest new addition is Off-Ball Control. This lets you use a button to take control of a player away from the ball, work him to an open position, call for the ball, and take a shot. Not a bad idea for a new feature, but then again it wouldn't really be necessary if your team did a better job of trying to get open in the first place.

NBA 2K8 suffers from some of the gameplay issues that seem to plague video basketball games. Besides the aforementioned lackadaisical effort on the part of your teammates, layups and fast breaks are problematic. Watching some of the horrendous moves used to clank the ball off of the rim or seeing one good-looking shot after another come popping back up out of the basket is painful. It's particularly painful when you are having trouble putting a team away or working your way out of a hole because you're missing so many inside shots. Perhaps the developers felt that working the ball inside was a little too easy and that to compensate for that they had to crank down the shooting percentage for inside shots. Whatever the reason, it would be less frustrating to the player and provide a more realistic game if they found a cure for the defensive problem rather than trying to treat the symptoms.

Fast breaks are another issue. The passing is too erratic and when you do hit your mark the player will often pull up instead of making the catch in stride and continuing to push up the floor.