Recent Comments

Nothing but net! Reviews of basketball video games

Swish! It’s basketball time again. Will Kevin Garnett and the Celtics triumph again? Will the Knicks ever get better? Most important, are the roundball video games worth your hard-earned $50 to $60? Well, yes and no.

The offerings from EA and 2K Sports are generally better than ever — except for one thing: advertising. Cell-phone services, energy drinks, soda drinks, basketball shoes. It’s just too much. But if you block out the ads in your mind and focus on the game, you’re in for a real treat.


2K Sports for PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, PC. Reviewed on Xbox 360.

Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 7.5
Replay Value: 9.0
Overall Score: 8.0
Pros: Many modes, Living Rosters, lots of different player animations.
Cons: Too much advertising, drop in frame rate off and online.

There are so many options for gameplay, hip-hop music, online play, coaching, fantasy teams and real-time scores, you may never get to everything, even if you play NBA 2K9 all year. The graphic look here is a little grittier than the other games. It’s like a battle as much as it is a game.

The downside? Some players are invincible. And because so many players are moving at once, not to mention the coach, the cheerleaders and the crowd, you’re going to get some serious drops in frame rate.

Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re playing a game that’s as choppy as a YouTube video, but with better graphics. Sometimes it looks like a head is Photoshopped onto a body—as with Lakers coach Phil Jackson. And while the crowd has been improved graphically from last year, they still look like zombies.

But mainly you’ll be in for fine gameplay with varied animations by every player on the court. Each star player retains his own signature moves and dunks. To block or shoot, you can use either a button or the right stick, a nice option. With the proper combination of buttons and stick, you seem to be able to pull off just about any human-like move.

There’s a stat system that mirrors what happens in real life. This Living Rosters option is updated weekly if you have a broadband connection. If a player gets injured in real life, he’ll be out in your video game, too. You can turn this option off, if you like.


NBA Live 09

Electronic Arts for PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, PSP. Reviewed on Xbox 360.

Graphics: 8.0

Sound: 7.5

Gameplay: 8.0

Replay Value: 9.0

Overall Score: 8.0

Pros: Many modes, Dynamic DNA, very intuitive controls.

Cons: Too much advertising, drop in frame rate off and online.

I like the look and play of EA’s NBA Live 09 game a bit better. The play is more intuitive. For me, it’s just easier to shoot foul throws. All you do is make sure you time your throw according to the meter placed on the backboard. It’s simpler to block shots as well. That’s because the camera seems to know you have to see in the paint in order to block. That sounds like a slam-dunk. But the other games aren’t as good at this.

The upshot? The look here is cleaner overall. The cheerleaders don’t look as detailed as in NBA 2K9, but the crowd does, and they seem alive. Each time you make a basket, there’s a small icon on the bottom left of the screen urging you to pull the left trigger so you can see a replay.

EA’s version of Living Roster is called Dynamic DNA. Someone must be working really hard at the company because these stats are updated daily, not weekly.

Finally, when the game is loading, you don’t have to simply sit there. You can take a few practice shots with a player in the gym. Overall, NBA Live 09 feels more natural than its competitor, and its attention to detail is top notch.


NBA 09 The Inside

SCEA for PS2, PS3, PSP. Reviewed on PS3.

Graphics: 8.5

Sound: 7.0

Gameplay: 6.5

Replay Value: 7.5

Overall Score: 7.5

Pros: Great graphics, varied soundtrack, story mode.

Cons: Artificial intelligence (AI) is lacking, must load game onto console, drop in frame rate off and online, story mode is short.

Over on the PS3 front, Sony has released NBA 09 The Inside, a game that unfortunately has its issues. Before you play for the first time, you have to wait about five minutes for game data to be loaded onto your PS3. That’s a buzz kill.

While the HD graphics in 1080 p are amazingly lifelike and there are fewer in-game ads, the artificial intelligence isn’t as fine-tuned as in the other two games. In my many quarters of play, Kevin Garnett kept stepping out of bounds like a rookie.

There’s a story mode to take you through the life of an NBA player, but it’s not deep enough. Even the novice will get through it in a few hours. And there’s nothing like Dynamic DNA in the game. Plus, the announcers don’t seem excited, and the crowd seems to be in part of the screen that’s darkened for some reason. Ultimately, The Inside seems more like an arcade game than a deep simulation.


NBA Live 09 All-Play

Electronic Arts for Wii

Graphics: 6.5

Sound: 7.0

Gameplay: 5.0

Replay Value: 6.5

Overall Score: 6.0

Pros: Easy to play, fun to do alley-oops, WNBA players.

Cons: Not enough defensive play, AI is lacking, no online play.

I’d stay away from the one Wii game for b-ball, NBA Live 09 All-Play. There is one big plus here: You can play with any of 22 WNBA players. Yet there’s not much challenge to this arcade game that puts too much focus on offense. Players who aren’t known for their three-point skills can almost always make these shots from downtown.

The defense is pretty miserable. It is fun to get a player to make an alley-oop by pressing A and B at once. But it’s just too easy to do. I understand the game is made for players of all ages, and that’s a good thing. But making it simple enough so a raisin could play is another thing altogether. They’ll probably get this down when they redo All-Play next year. But right now, rent the game before you buy to see if you like it.

There’s no online competition with All-Play. But NBA 2K9 and NBA Live 09 have it for the PS3 and 360. The Inside has it for the PS3. All of it works pretty well, although you will see occasional sputtering and drop of frame rate as you play with pals, which is due to the strength of your broadband signal more than anything else.

34 Comments on Nothing but net! Reviews of basketball video games

  1. it is awesome


  3. Longhorns 3-0 // September 20, 2009 at 6:49 pm // Reply

    pc is best

  4. this is the best game EVER i love it i wish i could dunk like that!!!!

  5. how do you do a aaley oop in nba 09 the inside psp what do you press first x or o?

  6. I love basket ball.its 1 of my favorite sports.

  7. club penginis cool // January 30, 2009 at 3:57 pm // Reply

    i dont like basket ball but this is cool!

  8. that is cool

  9. That game is

  10. is there the pc game

  11. I say that this is so cool. I want to become a professinal basketball player someday.

  12. I think that is so AWESOME! I LOVE basketball, maybe I’ll ask for one of these for Christmas….

  13. That nothing but net is cool



  15. whats with that

  16. hope u like this

  17. Go inside!!! 😀

  18. have these already came out?

  19. AWESOME!

  20. Why can,t we play this game

  21. I LOVE IT

  22. Jordan, that thing you wrote is like 5 pharagraphs long! I think you should shorten that a little bit!

  23. To jake (concerning the 8th comment):

    Well, they put Star Wars: The Force Unleased on PS2.

  24. I would like to say that I did enjoy reading what you had to say about each of these games. Although I agree with most of your ratings and opinions, I think there were some things you missed out.

    Of all the games you rated in the article, the contestant I would choose would be NBA Live 09. It has great game play and I feel this game is the only one where having strategies and in-depth plans really make the game magnificent and put to its full potential. Now don’t get me wrong, 2K9 isn’t a bag of coal, the graphics and music is exceptional, I just don’t like with ball moves in 2K9. I believe Live has a lot more enhanced spin and threw the legs control than 2K9, hands down. Another thing I like about Live and not 2K9 is that some will argue that 2K9 has better graphics this year, but its super choppy and has a ton of more kinks it needs to fix, like when the ref can’t pick up the ball and give it to the player; you end up with that long pause.

    Not forgetting about NBA 09 The Inside and NBA Live 09 All-Play (although I wish I did forget about them) there’s really nothing comparable with these two games. Ok, so the The Inside has a story mode, big deal, ! No one buys basketball games for story mode, it’s just dim. All I have to say about Live 09 All-Play is you can compare this game with others like you can compare Paris Hilton to Albert Einstein, it’s a whole other league.

    In the end, it’s interesting to see how far we have gotten with these games. Like if you were to compare the current NBA video games to evolution, it would be like a potato fish that has turned into a great white shark.

    By the way, who cares if you have to pay $60 for the game, I mean would you rather be enchanted by the awesomeness of a great game or buy a respectable pair of jeans you wear once a week only four times?

  25. yes i think he frekan cool. What is a wii

  26. Ps2 is old so they want u to buy new decent concles people.

  27. I dont like basketball games. They arn’t as good as 1st person shooter games. No offense sport people.

  28. it would be great if it was on ps (only if there isn’t any lags)

  29. someone should talk to sony! big time!!!!!

  30. They should have put it on ps2!!

  31. is it on pc?

  32. The Wii version, “All Play” should let you dribble and aim your shots and passes with the Wii Remote.

  33. why did’nt put on ps2

Leave a Comment

Please don't use your real name.