Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Release Date: 01/21/02 | Genre: Sports
Microsoft is not new to the sports genre. Although they have already published the popular NFL Fever 2002 for the Xbox, Microsoft has spent several years developing sports titles on the PC. While these were not the greatest of titles, the time spent developing the PC titles gave MS a big advantage when moving over to the console versions. While NFL Fever 2002 was one of the better football titles this year, Developer High Voltage has taken Microsoft's first Xbox NBA title and has delivered a solid, fun, and playable basketball title.
Being a huge Dallas Mavericks fan, I wanted to start a new season and guide my favorite team to victory. However, there was a big trade that sent several players from the Nuggets to the Mavericks. I began a new season and started to "re-create" the trade. Unfortunately for me, the Nuggets weren't willing to deal their players. I quickly found that I could go back a few menus and gain control of other NBA franchises. I chose the Nuggets and this time I had no problem making the trade. After it was complete, I gave the CPU control of the Nuggets again. Now my team was complete and I was ready to open the season against the Detroit Pistons.
The graphics are very nice once the game loads up. However, the load time was quite lengthy for loading up the game. Players are treated to a quick look at the arena once the game loads up and then it is time for the announcers to talk about the key match-ups in the game. Next, the starting lineups are announced--with the visiting team going first. Most players resemble their real life counterpart--although I found that Nash, Dirk, and Raef were slightly different than their real life counterparts. However, despite a few players being different--most players looked very close to their real-life NBA self.
The floor is very detailed and you can even see a reflection of the players standing on it. However, Microsoft decided not to choose the "dim the lights" when announcing the home team starting lineup. This is one of my favorite introduction techniques in the Sega Sports NBA 2K series.
Once the tip begins, the action never lets up. You can play a slow-paced, Laker style game, a fast-break Maverick style game, or a combination of the two. I found that I enjoy the fast-paced style of play and led my team to many victories using it. However, this is also a drawback to NBA Inside Drive 2002 due to the fact that I have not yet lost. While I chose to only play 5 minute quarters, I continued to get better each time I played and blew out every opponent by anywhere from 12 to 35 points. It seems that the difficulty setting really didn't make matters any better, as I played on "Rookie," "Veteran," and "All-Star" difficulty settings. The one thing that did seem to change was that I had a harder time stealing the ball on the "All-Star" setting.
After the game is over, players on both sides line up on one side of the arena and the announcers begin to talk about them and pick their best and worst players of the game. However, I found this to be very awkward. Where are the player interviews? Hopefully in next year's version High Voltage will add in this feature--creating a much more realistic setting at the end of a game.
Speaking of things wrong with NBA Inside Drive 2002, where the heck did these announcers come from? These guys have to be some of the worst announcers I have ever heard in my life. Every game I played, the announcer in the stadium would broadcast a message that "a car is on fire outside the stadium." Each time these announcers would comment the same exact thing, "A car is on fire? I hope it isn't mine..."
Overall though, NBA Inside Drive 2002 is one of the best basketball titles I have played in quite some time. Although I would like to see some things changed in next year's version, this is still a solid title to pick up for you b-ball fans. However, be warned that the defense in this game is lacking (I have still not lost one game and it is on the hardest difficulty setting).