In NBA Shootout 2003 we saw a game on the rebound starting to make it’s way back up, in attempt to compete with EA’s and Sega’s basketball titles. In this year’s edition 989 Sports has promoted some new features (Online Play), and gameplay tweaks that they think can truly take the game to the next level and compete the big boys. Unfortunately as much as the new features are welcomed, 989 Sports still has work to do to get this one to the top.
When you have games like EA Sports’ NBA Live 2004 and Sega’s ESPN NBA Basketball hitting the PS2, it really proves to be hard for 989 Sports to match up well with these types of games. Over the years 989 Sports have tried new things, and some of them have been good, but not enough people have cared for the game to take off. In 2004, Shootout just seems like it’s still on an uphill battle that it’s losing, and there are a couple problems that have been plaguing this title that I will get into later on in the review.
The game modes of NBA Shootout 2004 are pretty straightforward. You have your Quick Play, Season, Playoff, Career, Practice, All-Time Greats and the highly noted Online Mode. The modes are all pretty self-explanatory, and don’t have much more then the average basketball title.
The one mode that showed the Shootout series might be onto something was last years Career Mode, which proved to be quite an impressive one. Instead of following a career of a team like in most of these types of modes, you actually start with one player and bring him from the bottom, and it’s your job to get him ready for the NBA. During the mode you will have to do quite a few games in order to get that contract from the NBA. This is a very long and drawn out process that only true Shootout fans are going to be able to actually get through.
One thing I must credit 989 Sports for doing is creating another great online model for Shootout. NBA Shootout 2004 can be played out online and the overall structure of the online mode is actually quite good. Throughout my experiences online I found that finding some good playing games could be a challenge, and that lag was evident in almost all of my games. When you did get some good moving games going online, the mode proved to be a very worthwhile mode.
989 Sports never seems to have problems getting the game modes down and working correctly, but it’s usually in the Gameplay itself where things start to take a turn for the worse, and unfortunately that holds true in Shootout 2004. The shootout series in a lot of ways is still playing catch up, and it shows with some of the features they added this year.
One of the things that has been done really well in Live and ESPN is bringing the right analog stick into play. The use of the right analog stick has been used for special dribble moves on offence and then special blocking moves on defense. Unfortunately the use of this feature in Shootout just doesn’t work all that well, and still shows that it needs a lot of work. Unlike in the other basketball titles, you really never need to use the right analog stick throughout the course of the game, because it really doesn’t have much effect.
Unfortunately Shootout 2004 is still trying to catch-up to the rest of the pack, and it fails to do so in this version. 989 have smoothed out a lot of the rough edges but there is still a ton of room for improvement, in almost every aspect on the court.
Not only do EA and Sega both have Shootout’s number in the gameplay department, but they also have it in the graphics department as well. When you compare Live and ESPN right up with Shootout you can see there is a big difference in not only the style but also the level of detail.
Player models in Shootout still seem pretty generic, like they have been in the past. You can see that there has been work done in this area, but that there is still a long way to go to get the players looking better. The biggest problem that Shootout (and most 989 Sports games) encounters is the animation, and this is where things start to really get a little sketchy. Nothing in the game seems to flow together very well; everything looks so unfinished that it is hard to really just get into the game. Another thing lacking in Shootout is detail, not only did the characters look bland but so does everything else.
Overall Shootout’s graphics are not horrible, but they just seem to need something to get them going. It’s high time that 989 seriously put more effort into the graphical portions of the game, so this trend doesn’t continue.
NBA Shootout 2004 is still a basketball game and for that it does have its positive sides to it. For the most part if you make a basketball game it’s going to be fun and that’s basically what you find in shootout. The Online mode is pretty fun and playing with a friend can also be quite fun, but then it is hard to retain that fun feeling, when you know there are much better basketball games out there.
NBA Shootout 2004 still has not caught up with the big boys, and from the looks of things 989 Sports is going to have a lot of work to do if it even wants to attempt to get up close to the top next year. There have been some good ideas tried in Shootout but the execution still is just not all there.
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.