Living here in southern California there is only one thing we have been hearing about all summer, Kobe Bryant. It is amazing that one man can cause such a stir for a region, and that just shows that without football, basketball dominates the marketplace. 2K Sports understands that basketball is a big deal and thus have been creating year after year new installments in their NBA 2K franchise, which had a pretty solid run from start to present. But can NBA 2K8 for the Xbox 360 continue to have the same success as years past? Read our full review to find out!
There are two big competitors when it comes to basketball games for the Xbox 360, and those are the NBA 2K franchise from 2K Sports and the NBA Live franchise from EA Sports. The two actually have quite big differences between them. In fact, the NBA Live franchise has been targeted as much more of an arcade basketball experience, whereas the NBA 2K franchise more of a simulation. So can the simulation take top nods in this year’s battle for the best basketball video game?
NBA 2K8 is in many ways a very similar game to last year’s experience, but at the same time it makes a lot of interesting new strides to advance the franchise along. Let’s jump into the mechanics of the game, which are really where the experience is won and lost for me in the game. I found myself constantly tweaking with the sliders in the option menu to get the game to the right pace that I wanted. On the default settings you will find that penalties are either called far too often on things that should never draw a foul, and then when you hack your opponent there is no call. These are some of the more frustrating areas of the game, and yes it can be bothersome.
At the same time NBA 2K8 also offers up one of the most realistic and true to life basketball experiences around as well. You won’t see games go for 200 points a team, or Kobe scoring in triple digits any time soon. However what you will see is a much more well rounded game of basketball that allows for some great realistic use of plays and strategy. The games mechanics feel pretty good as well, although I have to say the game is a little to stingy on the easy shots. Shots like lay-ups, dunks, and shots within a few feet are far too often being missed with guys that are almost 100% in those areas. For example I played as the Spurs and I can’t tell you how many times Duncan missed the easy lay-ups.
The game has the deep franchise mode that we all have come to love from the NBA 2K franchise and it continues to improve in this title. There is plenty of micromanaging for those that are into those things, but things can be automated for those who just want to run the team. Outside of the franchise there are some other modes to dive into, including a 3pt competition, Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, and a few other modes that are all nice diversions away from the meat and bones of the game.
One thing I found really enjoyable about NBA 2K8 for the Xbox 360 was the online support, which was actually really quite a treat. My first game was one of the most competitive online sport experiences I have had, which ended in me winning in a last second three point winner. You can also go into some pretty intense online leagues and even do online slam dunk competition, which is actually a fun experience as well.
Overall NBA 2K8 is a very good all around basketball game, and there is really very little to complain about. The game doesn’t make huge steps forward from last years game, but it just continues to improve upon an already very good game.
Visually there is nothing to complain about in NBA 2K8, or at least nothing that really stands out as being a big problem for the game. I was a little disappointed that there was still such a gap between some of the NBA’s top athletes to some of the less known players, and the major difference between character models. Also coaches seem to have missed the love on the character models as well. The animation however is really smooth in the game, and the menu’s are easy to use and look great.
Unlike NBA Live, which is much more inclined to just be there to let you have a good time, NBA 2K8 really wants you to get into the game - learn the plays, learn the different defenses and do your best to outsmart the competition. This is possible because of the very good computer AI which puts up a heck of a fight on the higher difficulty settings. This is however even more true when your playing against a strong opponent who knows how to use the plays and his team to his advantage, the game really rewards that.
Although this is a great game of basketball, its improvements over last year aren’t as significant as you would probably expect. Instead much of the experience felt like a tune up of last year’s game, with some more features and modes added on the side. This is a great game of basketball, and if you really want to get into the game of basketball, NBA 2K8 is a great choice.
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.