Visual Concepts has tweaked and buffed out the annoying gameplay traits that plagued its original hoops game, and the result is a highly polished product.
The game shares its default control scheme with last year's version, but the analog support seems to be a little sharper, with varying levels of player movement. On the offensive end of the court, NBA 2K1 features four dribble moves, twice as many dunks as the original, four basic post moves, higher precision in long-range passes, and the ability to pass out of any shot. This year, players can use a same-hand, behind-the-back, or a regular crossover, depending on their position in respect to the defenders. The spin moves return, but they are now much faster and easier to execute. In fact, it is easier to combine these moves and to string together mad dribble-drive moves. Visual Concepts has also pumped up the dunk animations in the game. There are twice as many dunks as the original, with throw-downs like Rider's "East Bay funk," Jordan's leaner, double-clutch dunks, and two-handed windmills, among others. Both the dribble moves and the dunks are very much player specific, as attempting a dribble move with "Big Country" or to taking it strong to the hole with old man Stockton would be ill-advised.
In the post, players can now execute one of four moves: They can roll to the right and shoot, roll to the left and shoot, fade away, or shoot a hook. This adds greatly to a post-up game that was already quite effective in last year's version. Thankfully, Visual Concepts has removed the universal left or right spin move from the post-up game, making it more important to back the defender down and to find the right angle to get the shot off. Of course, you can expect the computer to throw all of these newfound skills at you, especially in the pro and all-pro modes. It seems that the computer-controlled offenses have gone back to basketball 101 and have returned as smarter AI ballers in NBA 2K1. Don't leave your man for a second, because he'll make a beeline to the basket for an alley-oop throw-down.
The offensive gameplay does have a couple of minor quirks. After playing several games, you'll realize that there are some questionable charge calls being consistently made in the game. On collisions during drives to the hole, the defensive player usually gets the benefit of the doubt. All things being equal, there are far more charge calls than there are defensive blocking fouls - even in situations where the defensive player is clearly out of position. The second thing that bothered us was the seemingly mechanical switching on defense. If you lose your defensive assignment, a computer defender quickly steps up to pick up your man, which is fine. But he usually doesn't switch back, so it's easy to end up with needless mismatches on the defensive end.
Overall, though, the defenses are smarter and more adept in this year's version. The computer-controlled defensive players position themselves better and are able to react to picks and cuts quicker in NBA 2K1. Last year's game compensated for bad fundamental defense with too many blocked shots and with unrealistic collisions on dribble drives. This year's game is more about proper positioning and defensive decision making, and blocking shots is more difficult, as it should be. The concept of proper positioning is evident in the rebounding game as well, where it is more important to box out and time the jump properly. Unlike last year's version, even shorter players can rebound if they get between their man and the basket for a board.
Visual Concepts has also tweaked the free-throw system in hopes of making it tougher to master and more player specific. The arrows are thinner, and the camera perspective makes the basket seem farther away, which is all designed to add difficulty to the free-throw system. Unfortunately, you'll be able to effortlessly line up the arrows and shoot a high percentage after a few games. During a season with the Lakers we shot 86 percent with Shaquille - enough said.
- Game Universe:
- NBA 2K2 (DC, PS2, GC, XBOX),
- NBA 2K3 (XBOX, PS2, GC),
- ESPN NBA Basketball (PS2, XBOX),
- ESPN NBA 2K5 (PS2, XBOX),
- NBA 2K6 (PS2, X360, XBOX),
- NBA 2K7 (PS3, PS2, XBOX, X360),
- NBA 2K8 (X360, PS2, PS3),
- NBA 2K9 (X360, PS3, PS2, PC),
- NBA 2K10 (X360, WII, PC, PS3, PS2, PSP),
- NBA 2K10: Draft Combine (X360, PS3)