NBA 2K8 Review: GSoM EXCLUSIVE!

Tip-off. Biedrins taps it to BD. No-look pass to Al Harrington who slams it under the hoop. Jazz go on a 12-0 run. End of first quarter.

Warriors cut the lead with the help of BD and Barnes. Monta throws up a 3-ball and sinks it with 2 seconds left in the half and drains it. 25-24 Warriors. Halftime.

Third Quarter. Boozer starts working it aggressively under the hoop and racks up 8 straight points dominating around the basket. Timeout Warriors. Stephen Jackson drains a 3 to keep the Warriors close. 42-38 Jazz.

Fourth Quarter - Warriors ball. Baron and Monta pick up two steals and help tie up the game. Both teams go back and forth trading buckets. One minute to go. Warriors gain a three-point lead. 45 seconds to go. Andrei Kirilenko blocks a lay-up by Ellis, grabs the ball, and nails a three. 5 seconds left. Harrington inbounds to it Davis. Drives up the court. Takes a fade-away jumper... IT'S GOOD! WARRIORS WIN THE GAME!!

If my advanced copy of NBA 2K8 doesn't tell lies, then we're all in store for an insane opening night game for GSoM Night 2 at the Roaracle!


Another Tony.psd EXCLUSIVE!

Since its conception on the Sega Dreamcast, the NBA 2K series has been offering gamers across the country a refreshing alternative (and often better) to the NBA Live series. When the series was brought to the next-gen systems (Xbox 360 and PS3), the graphics improved, but the gameplay was unchanged. Does this year's installment bring something fresh or is it the same NBA 2K that we're all used to?

Thanks to Mike Phan at Rocket XL and an advanced copy of NBA 2K8, we here at GSoM can provide you with the answer before it hits the streets on Tuesday!

Check out this GSoM exclusive full review of NBA 2K8 after the jump...

But before you check out the full review, don't forget to download and print out Tony's fly GSoM NBA 2K covers!

Why Change a Good Thing When It Works?
The gameplay from NBA 2K8 is basically the same from the previous years with a few minor tweaks. The defensive AI is still smarter than me as the CPU switches defenders when there are mismatches, double-teams when Baron gets the rock, and closes off the lane with Monta tries to take it in for a quick lay-up. The post game has improved with more control over your player when he gets down under the hoop. Free throw shooting is unchanged and takes a bit getting used to if you're rusty at using the right stick (where did they come up with this?)


Not this again!

Play calling and substitutions can be done mid-game without hitting the pause button and are pretty useful if you have a few second to make the necessary changes. I'm not a fan of the "Shot Stick" but it's still present. I haven't taken much time to explore its use, but 2K Sports claims it has improved over last year's. The "Defensive Stick" is a nice addition because for once, I felt as though I had more control over the defensive game besides the attempted swat or steal. In 2K8, you can actually put the player's hands up when he's defending the ball or move into a stance and keep the hands up while following the ball. Now that's the real deal!

Replays come in at the right moments and never seem to feel excessive. I especially enjoyed the addition of the post-game wrap-up with the "Top 3 Plays of the Game" and individual player highlights. Excellent additions that not only boast the key moments of the game, but also show off the looks.

NBA 2K8 went beyond their normal borders and incorporated the all-new "Sprite Slam Dunk Contest." It all seemed a little gimmicky at first, but turned out to be a great time-out from the regular game. The controls are funky - you have to flip the right stick once to do a pre-jump move, flick it again to get do something in the air, and then push the right trigger at the right time to finish the dunk - but once you get it down, you'll be doing off-the-backboard-360-reverse-tomahawk-over-a-car jams in no time! The props are really fun and who knows, maybe we'll see Kevin Durant jump over a car next All-Star game!


I can do this with my eyes closed!

Some of the same problems from previous NBA 2K games still exist. Too often I found my players making dumb passes down the court or not passing in the direction that I was trying to tell them to. Game-changing turnovers happen too frequently and take the fun out of it.

The tempo in the game has taken a step back as well as the game feels slower than other NBA 2K games. This is remedied with both the Warriors and Suns, but it makes playing with the Spurs absolutely dreadful. I didn't even attempt to play with the Pacers because I fear the slow pace of the DunMurphy Sisters would bring me haunting memories that would keep me up all night!

Flyer Than a Piece of Paper Bearin' Its Name!
When random fools roll into my crib and say, "I didn't know the Warriors were playing today," you know the game has lived up to the next-gen capabilities.

The graphics in NBA 2k8 are a lot like Stephen Jackson - they can be right on the money but also reeeal nasty. About 90% of the character models have been created accurately and beautifully. Major players - Baron Davis, Jason Richardson, Dwight Howard, Shaq, Nate Robinson, Chris Paul, Andris Biedrins, Matt Barnes (this list can keep going...) - ALL look spot on down to the last tattoo on their arms. However, some of the players - Stephen Jackson and Don Nelson - look downright ugly. According to Visual Concepts, Nellie lost about 20 pounds in the offseason and which Jackson apparently found. Both of their models look disproportional to their real counterparts. I'm sure there are more that I have yet to discover, but the models are not 100% accurate.


Unbelievable.

The ball looks FLY (yeah I took the time to analyze it!) as well as the courts, bench players, and the members of the crowd. Both the bench players and crowd have been given a multitude of animations so the game doesn't present them as unified "cheering squad" as it once did.

Speaking of animations and level of detail, Visual Concepts and 2K Sports must have spent weeks straight filming the different player movements. All of the movements come out silky smooth as each player handles the ball, tosses up shots, or even walks on the court from being on the bench. The NBA 2K series has always impressed me with their attention to detail and NBA 2k8 sets the bar for future sports games as it incorporates individual features for big name players. Marion has his fugly shot, Biedrins has his no-arc free throw, and J-Rich flexes his bi's after a fly dunk.

The courts and lighting effects present in the game are so stellar that I could venture to say Visual Concepts spent more time getting these accurate than Dunleavy chillin' with the Charmin bear.

charmin-soft.jpg
This guy just gets so much love here at GSoM!

Light from the top of the arenas reflect down perfectly and gleam off of players bodies at the right angles. The Slam Dunk Contest boasts flashy lights and fireworks and gives that Vegas feel.

The Roaracle in NBA 2K8 has everything in place - Thunder gets hyphy with the Warrior Girls and the fans go nuts after every basket. Now THAT'S realistic! I unfortunately didn't see any "We Believe" signs at any point nor any Golden State of Mind posters, but who knows... maybe after GSoM Night 2, they'll have to add it in the upcoming update!

Thank God Chuck's Not in This One!
I've never been a huge fan of Kevin Harlan, Kenny Smith, and Craig Sager, but these guys hold it down in 2K8! Granted, I was sold when they started talking about the Warriors playoff run and how the Warriors destroyed the Mavs in the playoffs because of their fans. However, the three make intelligent comments, especially during the halftime show, and I have yet to experience re-used comments. Game sounds are present as always and give the real-game feel.

The original commentator from the NBA Street series holds down the Slam Dunk contest. Most of his sayings are funny the first time around, but his voice gets reeeal annoying after the first 10 minutes. Luckily you can choose to the lower his volume specifically and enjoy the 2K8 exclusive tracks instead.

The soundtrack boasts a coupla tight tracks featuring Common, Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, and J Dilla, but for the most part is of the same caliber as most sport video games. Nothing too exciting and nothing to make you wanna rush to the store and cop the soundtrack (which they are releasing).

Worth the $60?
Definitely. The game is not flawless but goes over the "good enough" value by far. Even if you have last year's version, I say go rush the stores on Tuesday to pick this one up. The detailed graphics and improved gameplay make this game fun for the whole season and for many more. For obvious reasons, I have yet to find a challenger on Xbox Live to play online with, but I would bet that the online game is just as good (if not better) than the offline game. Can't wait til I get the chance to set up an online league!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Thanks again to Michael Phan and Rocket XL for the advanced Xbox 360 copy of NBA 2K8. Check out their media player to hit up images and videos!

I would toss a link to the IGN and Gamespot reviews for NBA 2k8...but I beat 'em to the review! GSoM is Unstoppable Baby!!

Seriously though thanks to Gamespot for the NBA 2k8 shots.

I should add that we're also going to be kicking off a full fledged GSoM video game section under the fresh title Golden State of Gamers (big ups to longtime GSoM community member olympicmike for the fly section name!). Should we do an NBA 2K8 online league for the GSoM community? Should we simulate Warrior games before they actually happen in real life and post virtual outcomes and see how well they predict real life games? How about an NBA Live 08 and more hoops game reviews? Post any suggestions or requests in the comments.

After you play the game on Tuesday post your own review of the game in the comments. I'll be sporting the dope NBA 2k8 tee Michael hooked me up with and I hope to catch you online sometime for a quick game of 2k8!

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