NBA ShootOut has earned its stripes over the years, and now it clearly stands shoulder-to-shoulder with EA Sports' highly touted basketball franchise, NBA Live. As developers begin to turn the majority of their time toward the next-gen consoles, it's predictable that many of the sports franchises will receive minimal improvements from sequel to sequel. Such is true with NBA ShootOut 2001. While the game provides little innovation over last year's effort, the backbone remaining from 2000 is strong enough to bear the weight of one more PlayStation outing.
All the bells and whistles are here. ShootOut 2001 features both an exaggerated arcade mode and an attribute-heavy simulation mode in which playoffs, seasons, or eight-player exhibition games may take place. All 31 NBA teams and arenas are in ShootOut 2001, along with all your favorite players. Onscreen abilities like shooting are directly related to each specific player's real-world attributes. Using the touch-shooting option, you control your shot with a multicolored vertical meter. If you release your shot in the yellow or green zones, it's money. If you're not into missing the action while watching a tiny meter, you can also use the traditional shooting method of waiting until you reach the top of your jump to release.
You may set the parameters for gameplay in nearly any manner you choose. Time limits, foul sensitivity, out-of-bounds calls, season length, and countless other options are all at your fingertips, waiting to be explored. While playing, you can match your players up defensively to whomever you choose and also set them on normal, tight, or loose pressure, depending upon your game situation. Offensive and defensive plays may be called on the fly to catch the other team off guard. The CPU is never too easy, as there are four levels of difficulty to keep the challenge fresh.
Although it was present in ShootOut 2000, the dunk creation mode is still worth mentioning. Here you can design a dunk from takeoff to throw down. Everything from the angle of your player's head to the amount of twist and amplitude is here for the tweaking. A placement dummy auditions each dunk onscreen as the changes are made, so you won't waste time having to try the dunks out in a real game situation. While each dunk tends to happen so fast that you miss most of the details, it's still a fun mode that other roundball games just don't have. However, a few modes that EA's Live series includes - like the one-on-one mode or three-point shootout - are not included in ShootOut 2000. A certain player with the initials M.J. is AWOL as well.
ShootOut 2001's rosters lack depth. Only the current rosters and the 1999/2000 rosters are playable. You may conduct a draft, trade players, and act as general manager if you don't feel like straining your fingers to play. The sounds of the squeaky shoes and net swishes are some of the best in a PlayStation basketball game yet, but Killer Game still needs to exterminate some of the final bugs from the play-by-play before this puppy is ready to ship. It's true that NBA ShootOut 2001 doesn't have many enhancements over last year's model, and the ability to create a player has yet to make an appearance in this series, but the solid gameplay and spiffy graphics engine from last year have returned, and this alone is reason enough for PlayStation owners without a b-ball game to be interested. Look for more on NBA ShootOut 2001 as its late October release date draws closer.