Every year with the NBA 2K series gamers can expect a solid basketball title. Each title doesn't really differ too much from the previous year's game, but Visual Concepts has developed such an impressive series that there are very few improvements we could recommend. It's that time of the year again and NBA 2K8 is set for release by the end of the year, we recently had an opportunity to go hands on with NBA 2K8 and came away rather impressed, in fact we feel that NBA 2K8 is one of the most polished and fully featured basketball games yet released.
It seems Visual Concepts worked hard this year to ensure there are plenty of options for players. The most expansive single player mode is the association mode, which is like a franchise mode where you follow your team and try and take them to the NBA championships. At the beginning of the association mode you can turn off some of the gameplay options such as progressive fatigue, owner firing, trade deadline and team chemistry, so those who want to just play through an NBA league without any hassles can do. The association mode is deep, but there are also several other gameplay options including season mode, playoff mode, rookie challenge, practice and situation mode. There is also an NBA Blacktop mode where you can participate in 3 point shootouts, as well as take part in a dunk contest. Online play will be supported as well.
The controls in NBA 2K8 are easy to get used to. In offence the X button is used to pass, whilst square will shoot. If you prefer your shots to be a little more precise the right analog stick can be used as a shot stick. In defence Triangle is for a block, square is for a steal and the right analog stick is for putting your player's hands up. Whether you're in defence or offence R2 will sprint and the left analog stick moves the player whereas the directional pad controls plays and coaching. NBA 2K8 does include some Sixaxis support, when taking free throws the idea is to lean the controller back as the player is jumping and then push it forward to take a shot, it's a tough way of taking free throws and it does make us miss the days of just lining up the ball with a marker on the screen.
In game things have have changed a little from previous NBA 2K titles. When your player is in offence five little bars appear next to your player's name. The five bars represent how strong a player is in a certain part of the court. The bars also vary in colour and are based on game performance, blue represents a weak streak, yellow is no streak and red is a hot streak. This means that even before you even shoot for the basket you'll have a pretty good idea of whether you're player is going to get the ball in or not.
Graphically NBA 2K8 looks the goods as well. As the second NBA 2K title on the PlayStation 3 it seems Visual Concepts has now had enough experience to get the most out of the console. The background detail is brilliant, with mascots dancing in the background and the crowd cheering on, the player models look great (just don't look too close at their faces) and the frame rate stays solid. The commentary sounded okay, but can become repetitive.
Even though the version of NBA 2K8 that we played through still wasn't finished it's hard to find fault with the game. NBA 2K8 contains a bundle of content and the game is easy to pick up, which will please casual gamers, but is also deep enough that those who follow the sport religiously will find plenty to like about the game. The game looks the goods as well, making NBA 2K8 feel like it could be one of the best basketball games ever. From the time we spent with the game basketball fans should have no hesitation picking this game up when it is released later this year.