Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Well, that's two games out of three now where I was totally blown away.

I didn't play the Xbox version of 2K6 this year because I wanted to wait for the 360 version. That means I'm not going to complain about lack of gameplay innovation between versions, which has been a major criticism in most reviews.

How does this game look when you're playing with the default sideline view? Like you're watching a game on television--in high definition. Player models and courts look absolutely fantastic, and the animation (particularly the variety of low post moves) is stunning. The animations have a tremendous amount of nuance--players adjust to being off-balance, they lean in to create space--it's extremely impressive.

The general flow of the game is terrific. You can fast break, you can run a low post offense--it all works if you execute. The pace feels like real professional basketball. In one half of a game between the Rockets and the Lakers, I saw bounce passes, lead passes, alley-oops, fast breaks, low post offense, charges, blocks, shots off the glass, putbacks on rebounds--in short, what I would expect to see in a real game. The one thing I didn't see were three point shots, but I also hadn't adjusted any sliders at all, and I assume that can be corrected.

Back to the animations, because I don't want to just gloss over how fantastic they look. Shaq his a variety of low post moves that look identical to real life, and his offensive mindset is the same as well--he tries to back you down, then rattle the rim with a dunk. Yao Ming runs with that heavy, slightly awkward style that is instantly recognizable to anyone who's seen him play. Like I said, the amount of nuance and correspondence to real life is startling.

The reviews I've seen have really fixated on things like the coach's character models not being redone for the 360. I give a shit. I couldn't care less if Stan Van Gundy looks like Mo. They only show him during time outs and dead ball situations. The cheerleaders and crowd don't look "next-gen" up close either. Fortunately, the cheerleaders and the crowd aren't playing the game. Everybody playing the game looks sensational.

One other note. The commentary is absolutely outstanding. It sounded for all the world like I was listening to a live broadcast, and the amount of context-sensitive commentary is amazing.

Again, reviewers seem to be comparing to some mythical "next-gen" standard instead of comparing to existing games. I saw NBA2K5 in 720p last year, and this game absolutely blows it away in terms of animation, player models, and framerate. If that game was an 8, then this is easily a 12.

A general note on framerates in the games I've seen so far. I haven't seen a single glitch or hiccup yet. So many Xbox games in 480p had sections in them where the framerates would chug. So far, though, everything is glassy smooth.

Oh, and that comment I made about games automatically taking your Live profile and creating an in-game profile? That only happened in PGR3 so far. In the other two games, I had to manually create a profile.

Next up: Condemned: Criminal Origins.

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