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NBA ShootOut 2003

Developer: 989 Sports | Publisher: SCEA
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 09/20/02 | Genre: Sports

989 Sports has developed some pretty terrible games lately. However, after realizing this, they have sought to correct all of their mistakes and only produce AAA sports titles. This year they continue their campaign in releasing NBA ShootOut 2003. While it doesn’t completely fall flat on the ground, it fails to compete with NBA Live and NBA 2K.

In case you haven’t seen any of the commercials on TV for NBA ShootOut 2003, 989 is focusing on the gameplay. Their goal was to mirror all of the details from within the NBA and put them in the game. When starting a game, you can see some of these touches. Many of the shoes found within the game are officially licensed. So these mirror the real shoes the pros wear! Also, you will see players warming up before a game while the commentators set the stage. However, once the ball is tipped, we run into a few problems.

I normally don’t like controlling the center during a tip. I just can’t ever seem to get a good jump on the ball. ShootOut doesn’t give me the option of switching players--causing me to be part of the opening tip. After the tip, the game is run primarily by holding down the L2 button. This brings up the icon passing so you can precisely get the ball to the player of your choice. Defense is non-existent. This is not a fault of NBA ShootOut 2003--but the entire genre. I haven’t been able to properly defend a player in a basketball game ever. I don’t know if the developers try to help players out--but even if you leave a guy wide open, the computer will rarely kick the ball out to him. Again, these are general faults found in the genre and not just an issue with ShootOut.

989 is very proud of the graphics in NBA ShootOut 2003. Sometimes, they are great. However, for a large majority of players, they are not very good. For example, living in the Dallas area, I am a big fan of the Mavericks. The graphical representation of Dirk, Nash, and Finley is just terrible. After realizing how bad these players look, I began to notice that just about every other player in the game looked just as poor. Players have static faces that don’t move or interact as they would in real life. Hair is very flat and doesn’t move at all. Most of the faces don’t even resemble the players!!! These things must be corrected in next year’s version.

I ran into a few bugs during play. After ending a quarter, the computer shot the ball at half court. Before it even reached the other end, the game skipped to the game stats without showing what happened to that shot. Also, I am not sure if this is a bug or not--but the announcers never mentioned when players subbed in the game. In fact, the game never showed them waiting on the sideline. They just showed up in my lineup. If this isn’t a bug, why would 989 develop the substitutions like this? The physics in NBA ShootOut 2003 is also buggy. Balls fall to the ground after clanging off the backboard. Instead of realistically bouncing on the ground, they just fall to the ground. How do the players react to this? They don’t dive for the ball or make much of an effort to reach for it. Even if your player is standing right next to the ball, it is almost impossible to pick up the loose ball.

989 enlisted the legendary Bill Walton and New Jersey Nets’ own Ian Eagle to do the commentary. Walton is an incredible basketball commentator. However, Eagle just doesn’t seem to fit in. Most of the time his comments seem out of place or just plain silly. “You’re a fountain of knowledge today Bill...â€? “You sure have been doing your homework...â€? Eagle seems to recycle these same lines during quarters quite often. However, Walton isn’t perfect either. He repeats the same lines every two or three games. In order to draw players into the game, the commentators must be much better. As shown in NBA ShootOut 2003, this can cause players to remember that they are just playing a game.

There are a few good features in NBA ShootOut 2003. 989 has included a wonderful player editor. This allows you to create a player and customize everything about a player. And when I say everything--I mean it. You can customize a players head shape, nose, face, ears, mouth, chin, waist, leg size, shoes, wrist bands, head bands, etc. Just for fun, I created a really deformed cone-head player and made him a point guard and customized his abilities to suit this role. At this point, you can then put your player into a summer league where he can work to improve his abilities. After succeeding in the summer league, you can then get called up to the NBA. However, should you fail in the NBA, it will be back to the summer league for you... This is the best part of NBA ShootOut. Although my last name didn’t fit completely on the jersey, I had a blast with it.

Unlike NBA Inside Drive, ShootOut is much more difficult on the higher difficulty levels. Overall, NBA ShootOut 2003 may be worth a look if you want to give the awesome player editor a try. However, other than that, ShootOut doesn’t offer much more this year. I am hopeful that next year’s version will correct many of the mistakes seen and make a run for the NBA title of basketball games!

By Kaleb Rutherford - 10/17/02
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Screenshots for NBA ShootOut 2003

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