Hands-onNBA Courtside 2002

Left Field's GameCube basketball game is 100-percent complete and looking much better than the version we saw at the last E3.

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Nintendo debuted a complete version of NBA Courtside 2002 at a European press conference earlier today in London. The game, which hasn't been seen since an early version was shown at the last E3, is now listed as being 100-percent complete. The differences between this version and the E3 version are many, and the game appears to be able to play a reasonably good game of hoops.

The control has been tweaked a bit since E3. Your turbo button is now on the left trigger, and the right trigger is used for defensive stances. The big A button is used for shooting on offense and jumping on defense. The other buttons are used for passing, crossovers, and setting picks. One of our big complaints at E3 was that the game focused more heavily on offense than defense, making it a very up-and-down, high-scoring game. The offensive-oriented nature of the game still seems to be intact. Additionally, we found that it was way too easy to get computer players to foul you, as running into them repeatedly or jumping into them while shooting would, more often than not, result in a foul that would send you to the line. Free throws are handled using a round meter that fills up over and over again. The key is to hit A when the meter is totally full. Better free throw shooters have slower-moving meters. Speaking of meters, the game also uses a momentum meter system to account for one team being on a roll. Stoppages in play and opposing steals and scores will swing the momentum back to the other side.

The game has an extremely in-depth create-a-player mode in it. Aside from obvious height, weight, and skill stats, you can configure common stuff such as skin tone, facial texture, and hairstyle (yes, here's yet another game with a selectable afro). But the game also has tons of other sliders. You can set the size of your player's triceps and biceps separately. You can also alter nose length and width, chin size, pad placement, and a whole lot more.

Graphically, the game has a pretty nice look to it. Though a few player textures look a little fuzzy up close, the player faces and models look extremely realistic. The game has nice smooth animation that transitions well from move to move. The ball looks nice and has a slight motion-blur effect when it's moved around quickly. The game has some style in its presentation as well, zooming in on the players for things like dunks and free throws. The game features play-by-play commentary, but even though it seemed to be nicely varied, it still sounded a little stiff when incorporating player or team names.

With a quick mode, an arcade mode, and a more serious season mode, among others, Courtside looks like it covers all the major game modes that a modern basketball game should have. While the game seemed a little straightforward and simple when compared with other recent basketball games on the market, we'll withhold final judgement until we get to spend some serious time with a reviewable version of the game. Courtside 2002 is scheduled to hit the US in January.

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