NBA 2K6 E3 2005 Hands-On

We strip a few balls in our hands-on time with the new 2K hoops game.

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NBA 2K6 is the sequel to last year's basketball game from the Visual Concepts development team. Though the game won't feature the ESPN broadcast presentation style that bolstered last year's effort, the game's producers are intent on creating a hoops game that is every bit as involving as last year's.

The demo we played featured four playable teams--the Suns, Spurs, Heat, and Pistons--and in our time with the demo, we played against all four teams just to see if we could notice any tangible differences in play styles. Right off the bat, we noticed that Steve Nash--this year's real-life NBA MVP--played completely up to his all-star caliber in the game. He's faster than ever, can drain shots from anywhere on the court, and generally has the ability to make anyone guarding him look silly. The Spurs put a hurting on us with Duncan and Ginobli up close and with Bruce Bowen from three-point land.

From a control standpoint, the new aspects of NBA 2K6 include a new leading pass control, which is used to automatically send a teammate to the basket so you can dish the ball off to him. It felt a little overpowered in the demo, but with the game at only 75 percent completion, we expect the feature to be more properly balanced by the time it's released. The other new feature is the game's new directional steal control, which is executed with the right stick. By pressing the stick left, you'll attempt to strip the ball with your left hand. Meanwhile, by pressing right, you'll try a right-handed swipe. The feature seemed especially useful for diving into lanes and grabbing breakaway steals, but you'll need to temper your use of it, because the refs will call reaching in fouls if you get a little too grabby.

Free throws still use the arrow-free mechanic introduced last year, but with a slight twist. When your player sets up at the line, a small graphic showing a silhouette of your player and his shooting arch appears, revealing the ideal release point for the shot. To sink your shot, you can either depend on the natural timing of the shot animation itself or use the sillhouette graphic to time your release.

We're still awaiting details on the game's mode list, especially because such features as 24/7, franchise, the crib, and online gameplay will be making returns for 2K6. This information will be coming sooner rather than later, and so will our continuing coverage of the game. So stay tuned.

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