Get in the Game

New Fast Fun for Xbox and PlayStation2

Get in the Game

NBA Live 2002

EA Sports

Playstation2

NBA2K2

Sega Sports

Playstation2 Back in high school, I had a friend on the team named De (as in the letter "D"). De was the stereotypical slow, white guy who can shoot. As is often the case, De had a little trouble with defense. Our coach, in a flash of inspiration, took to calling him "O." De got even better as time went on, but his defense never did.

For years now, EA Sports has been rolling out a game with 10 versions of De on the court at once. The early favorite in the NBA Live line, Live 95, was memorable for its 3-point bonanzas and buzzer-beating shots. Nobody remembers the defense. That's because there wasn't any. Later versions of Live added some semblance of D, to the point where contact with another player would actually (gasp!) bother the shooter. While the defense kept improving, though, so did the offense. Now that we've arrived at Live 2002, that gap has finally narrowed. The offensive moves are ace: Jab steps, crossovers, back-downs, and spin moves are all different buttons. The D isn't helpless either, as EA was smart enough to include the ever-important "defensive stance" button. "O" is still king in 2002, though. Within five games, I had graduated to the third skill level, out of four, and was taking down higher-ranked teams, watching all types of wild threes hit nothing but the bottom of the net.

Once I hit the fourth level, my offense was stifled, a first in my experience for any Live game. Yet, the defense consisted entirely of the computer picking my pocket and creating turnovers. As my high school coach will probably still tell you, there's more to defense than blocks and steals.

This year's crop of NBA hoops games has at least one entrant who knows how to put on a little old-school D, and, surprise, it's the new kid on the block. With the impending demise of the Dreamcast, Sega Sports' NBA2K2 switches platforms to the Playstation2, and right away it's got all the right moves. Like Live 2002, it's got all-time NBA greats and interesting practice modes, it's got plays and playcalling, but unlike Live, NBA2K2 is fundamentally sound. Picks and switches are as important to the game as crossovers and stutter-steps. Exploiting size, strength, and speed mismatches is key to this game, quite possibly a first in the world of video-game hoops. The low-post battle is big-time, and so is knowing when to call for screens and when to try to intercept passes. Shutting down your opponent is no walk in the park. It's hard work, and involves lots of switching, hustle, and mixing up the defense, including calling for the zone (new NBA rule) when appropriate.

NBA2K2 isn't much of a shooter's game, but it's enough of one to keep the defenses honest. My old pal De probably wouldn't dig this game as much as the "O"-centric Live. But you know what? Coach would dig it a whole lot more. And coach is always right.

  • Get in the Game

    Xbox's Project Gotham Racing and Halo screech and soar, respectively, into gameplayers' hearts; NBA Live 2002 and NBA2K2 for Playstation2 amp up the defense.
  • Project Gotham Racing

  • Halo

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