Rivalries between teams are at the heart of sporting passion. Whether it is the ongoing struggle between New Zealand and Australia or the heated contests between the Boston Celtics and the LA Lakers, what’s great about rivalry is that it forces each side to constantly improve its performance in an effort to crush its opponent. Likewise, the fierce competition between basketball video games has driven constant innovation in the genre. And with this latest release, NBA 2k9 may have just edged ahead of its main competitor, NBA Live.
The most impressive new feature included in this year’s version of NBA is a Five-Vs-Five team play mode that pits up to 10 players against each other online. Also appealing is the new ‘Living Rosters’ where player statistics are updated weekly depending on how well they’re performing.
As fans of the series have come to expect, 2k9’s gameplay is once again top notch. The pace feels just right and could easily pass for something straight off ESPN. The artificial intelligence of computer characters is impressive, with opposing teams quickly picking up on plays and patterns to shut you out if you become too repetitive in your approach. Controls have also been improved, with advanced new manoeuvres for enthusiasts and far simpler schemes for casual players.
It also must be said that 2k9’s presentation is spectacular. Players look stunning and their movements are extremely lifelike, including the signature moves and idiosyncratic habits of better-known players. The arenas are packed with fans who add excitement to the atmosphere as they cheer for skilful plays or go deadly silent when the opposition takes an unassailable lead.
Basketball fans will find NBA 2k9’s brand of super-smooth gameplay and superb presentation hard to resist. Electronic Arts’ upcoming NBA Live 09 game will certainly have to pull off something special if it wants to top this.