Hands-onNBA 2K2

Sega's Dreamcast basketball series is coming back for another year.

After a disappointing first outing, Sega's NBA 2K series took a giant step forward with last year's version and claimed its rightful position alongside the critically acclaimed NFL 2K series. This year the game's developer, Visual Concepts, has improved several elements of a game that was already one of the best sports simulations on the market. Most notably, as with NFL 2K2, the online features in NBA 2K2 have been improved. This year, the SegaNet servers will be able to keep track of individual's win-loss records for games played online. Players will be able to track their performance and see how it stacks up to the performance of other NBA 2K2 players nationwide.

In terms of actual gameplay, the defensive AI and the low post game have been slightly tweaked. On defense, the computer-controller players are much more adept at reading passes and offensive sets--they're quick to cut off the baseline and fill the passing lanes. In general, the AI players seem more active in this year's version of the game. In the post, new drop-step moves have been added. The original NBA 2K featured a universal spin move in the post, which made the post game, particularly against AI opponents, entirely too simplistic. Last year, the developer removed the spin move altogether, and players missed the ability to make the defender pay for leaning the wrong way in the post. So this year, Visual Concepts seems to have found a happy medium. Players are now able to spin off the defender in the post, but rather than spinning free at will, they will be able to drop-step either left or right. This adds even more realism to a low post game that was already highly intuitive and entertaining.

Aside from the specific gameplay tweaks listed, the developer plans other enhancements such as new player animations, including leaning jumpers and dunks. Additionally, the new NBA rules, such as the option to play zone defense, will also be included in the final version of the game--though we weren't able to find that option during our hands-on experience with the game. At least one new street court will also be added to the game. Players will now be able to play street ball on Oakland's legendary Mosswood Park, along with the returning courts set in New York City and Chicago.

Naturally, NBA 2K2 will feature updated rosters, arenas, team uniforms, and signature moves for the 2001-2002 season. The game will be released for the Sega Dreamcast this fall. Versions on the Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation 2 have also been officially confirmed.

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