ESPN NBA 2K5 PlayStation 2
by Global Star Software
Developed by Visual Concepts
Release Date: Out Now
Recently we were fortunate to receive the latest sports titles from Visual Concept, ESPN NFL 2K5, ESPN NHL 2K5 and ESPN NBA 2K5. In the US these were released at just $20 and here in the UK they have been released by Global Star for just £19.99. Low prices indeed and whilst most people think that low prices equals low quality I can't stress enough that it's not the case with these games. A few days ago we reviewed ESPN NFL 2K5 and it's a superb game and the equal of any previous NFL game. ESPN NBA 2K5 is yet another quality game from Visual Concepts that whilst it's not of the supreme quality of NFL 2K5 it's still a great game.
As you'd expect NBA 2K5 has plenty of modes to keep you occupied. You can choose from Quick Game, The Association, Street (Full Court, Half Court One on One and 21), Tournament 24/7 and Practice. Once again though there's no online mode although there was one in the US version. The Association is essentially the franchise mode and along with 24/7 it's where most gamers will spend most of their time. 24/7 is where you create your own player and take them through a virtual career. This mode utilises the internal clock on your console and failure to practice with your player each day will result in your players attributes degrading. The Association is a little different from most franchise modes in that it now includes a Full Authority mode. Essentially Full Authority enables you to make tactical decisions through the game (you don't actually play the game) and you'll see highlights of your team in action. When going to a game you'll have the choice to play the game or use Full Authority so if there's a game you want to play or coach you can choose at any time. The Full Authority mode is a nice addition and a half-way point between playing and simulating your games.
Last year's NBA 2K4 was a great basketball game and NBA 2K5 is also another game worthy of your attention. You'll notice more realistic shot blocking, offensive playbooks and generally more realistic control of the players. The ball physics also seem improved although there are times when it seems to deviate in course slightly to attach itself to the nearest player. The game on the whole though is very enjoyable with end-to-end action throughout. Whilst the action in NBA 2K5 is enjoyable, it always maintains a good deal of realism. Players play according to their ability unlike in an arcade version of the sport where all the players seem little different from each other.
Graphically NBA 2K5 looks good. It was great to see a crowd that fully automated and didn't just look like cardboard cut-outs. The player models look quite good but at times their movements don't look as natural as they should which is strange given how talented Visual Concepts are. During the Street modes you'll notice plenty of action going on in the background such as taxis driving by. This is a small thing but it was much nicer than looking at static backgrounds. The frame rate for the most part was good but there are moments when it dips a little although this doesn't spoil anything. Load times can be irritating at times. I suspect this is more to do with the limitations of the PlayStation 2 than the game though.
There's little to say about how deaf gamer friendly ESPN NBA 2K5 is as it's pretty much the same as other sports titles in this respect. Once again the presentation niceties are missing for deaf gamers and the game commentary and such like are not subtitled. This isn't going to prevent you from enjoying the game though as all the useful details and information are shown in text. Tutorial messages and messages you'll receive in The Association and 24/7 modes are in text so you'll have no problems in playing the game.
Those of you looking for a NBA game on your PlayStation 2 should definitely pick up ESPN NBA 2K5. Once again we have a budget price for a quality game that will offer many hours of enjoyment to fans of basketball. It's a shame the online mode hadn't survived from the US version especially as online leagues could be created. I suppose there must be a reason why it has been cut but it's unfortunate for fans of the series who wanted to play online. Still there's plenty of value here for the single player and the game is difficult not to recommend for fans of the sport. Unlockable items such as BobbleHeads and extra teams will keep you coming for more and the 24/7 mode by itself could keep you busy for months which is not bad at all for less than £20.
Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10
Whilst it's not as impressive as either NFL 2K5 or NHL 2K5 it's still a very good basketball simulation that's well worth the money.
Deaf Gamers Classification:
(Click the letter or here for details)
As per usual there's no commentary subtitles etc., but in every other way it's fine.