NBA 09: The Inside

Overview

Each year new basketball iterations are born, and with each passing year we hope to see strong improvements from each of the basketball franchises. Today we are checking out NBA 09: The Inside for the Playstation 3 from Sony which hopes to take it to the hoop with more success then they have had in past years. The series has progressively been going in the right direction, but can it continue on the positive course? Read our full review to find out!

Gameplay

When Sony announced that they were bringing their NBA franchise to the PS3 most assumed their “The Life” career mode would come along with it. Well it didn’t make that immediate transition, and now for the first time we get to see how their new career mode will handle on the PS3. This is the one feature that Sony really puts all of their effort into to try and separate themselves from the rest of the pack. So does the new career mode do just that?

So as I mentioned before, for the first time The Life which is Sony’s story driven career mode has made its first appearance on the Playstation 3. Some major changes have been created for this outing, the most major is that there is not one story-line but three very separate and different ones that you take with three different created players. Its an interesting twist, and to make room for all three story-lines the developers decided to make the story lines rather short.

There are actually two issues that arise from them breaking up a mode into three distinct parts. First and foremost you never really get involved with the character nor really care a whole heck of a lot about their progression. The story is still very well written and has some interesting points, but you never have the chance to really get interested because the length of these three story arcs are far to short. Secondly with the breakdown into three stories the mode feels less fleshed out then it could have. The cutscenes aren’t top quality, the stories are good but are not given enough time to develop. Really the fuel that makes a any story driven mode is the story, and you can’t get into any of the story lines in this game because of their quick nature. It’s not that the mode is a failure it is enjoyable its just not the highlight of my experience like I believe it was created to be.

There have been some changes to the gameplay as well including some things that have not been included. Remember last year how the game had the Sixaxis support, well that is turned off by default. Is it just me or is no one using Sixaxis anymore? So now they have gone with the more conventional right analog stick to maneuver on offense and defense. Obviously this is a more responsive control scheme and for me I welcomed the change, I never was a big fan of throwing my arms around while playing so having the inclusion of the new controls was a good thing. There really wasn’t any other overly noticeable gameplay upgrades to really speak of. The gameplay still uses the onscreen meter system for shots which I have always liked and the gameplay is still a mix between a pure simulation and an arcade basketball game. The only other noticeable upgrade is that the AI are far more intelligent now then they used to be making proper adjustments to your offense and defense which does help.

The rest of the game is rather standard, the franchise mode carries the normal features but nothing necessarily over the top. The online play remains rather stagnant as well with very few changes as well. NBA Replay does make a return playing some of the big games of the year and it of course is a welcome mode to return, always has been a favorite of mine. What really does happen though is that the big mode was the inclusion of The Life and it just wasn’t all that strong this year. I still believe full heartedly that this could be a real winner for Sony, but I would stick with a pre-created character and one story arch and not three.

Graphics

In a year that all we keep hearing about is “Change” in the political campaigns, not much has changed here in NBA 09: The Inside in terms of the visuals. Sure there are have been some tune ups here and there but the over arching game is still much of the same. There are some nice upgrades to character models, and some detail in the crowds has been done better but for the most part there are only minimal changes visually from last year’s version to this years game. I still think they need to do a complete overhaul on the animations which still feel far to compressed and need to loosen things up to let the game flow naturally. Overall though this is still a pretty good looking basketball game.

Fun Factor

As I mentioned at the onset of this review, I have been a big fan of The Life in year’s past. This year I was shocked to find that they had broken it up into three different stories and for me although I enjoyed them I never really felt any connection with the stories. The rest of the game is really a slightly upgraded version of last years outing which is still enjoyable I am just ready to see Sony push a little further and create a complete NBA game for the PS3.

Overall

There is no doubt that fans waiting for The Life to make its way to the PS3 are going to be disappointed by the results of its first try on the PS3. The outlying problem is not the mode itself it was the decision to break it down. Not to mention there are still needs to be met in the gameplay department as well. Unless you are dying to check out The Life on NBA 09: The Inside you have better basketball choices this holiday season.

The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.