Eye-candy graphics, fast-paced online game play, ‘NBA 2K5’ worth the $20 needed

Jeremy Porter

Huston Rockets’ center Yao Ming takes on Detroit Pistons’ center Ben Wallace in ESPN NBA 2K5.

Credit: Jeremy Porter

ESPN NBA 2K5 is a simulation-style basketball game with more features than a restaurant menu. With eye candy sweeter than 16 teams in the NCAA Tournament, this game will make your eyes wide.

ESPN NBA 2K5 cost $20 new and it’s worth every bean. It comes with online play, custom soundtrack (X-Box only), content download and voice communication for online trash-talking. This game is available for Playstation 2 and X-Box. The X-Box version has better graphics and sound than its Playstation 2 counterpart.

Online play is the best feature and there are several game modes to choose from. A player can play 24/7 mode online, which is the build up of a single created basketball player.

There are tournaments and seasons that can be set up by anyone. A player can also compete for wins to see how he or she ranks in the nation. The only problem with online play is that it has significant lag on dorm room Internet connections. Sometimes, an online game will work well in the dorm, but most of the time it skips like a game of hopscotch. However, if you have a good Internet connection online play is nearly perfect.

The difficulty of this game’s computer artificial intelligence depends on who you are. If you’re like me, you can master this game in a month. I’ve been playing this game online on the Hall of Fame difficulty level against top players and beat some, but lost to most. From playing online most of the time, the artificial intelligence became facile to beat.

ESPN NBA 2K5’s sound is its biggest weakness. Sometimes, the announcers aren’t paying attention to the game and they say the wrong thing. Sometimes, the crowd will cheer for the opposing team or not cheer at all for a big play. However, this game still has a good soundtrack, good player chatter, and good crowd noises when they aren’t cheering at the wrong time.

ESPN NBA 2K5’s controls may be confusing, but they get the job done. For offense, Iso Motion 2 lets a player do a cross over or spin move. A player can cancel an Iso Motion 2 move before getting a charge. The Iso Motion 2’s main issue is that it gives you a short animation, leaving you watching the player go around the defense. The new feature to Iso Motion 2 is the post up. The post up is useful, except it puts the defense at a disadvantage.

Alley-oop dunks are the hardest to do. They require a player to perfectly match a pass to the running player going towards the basket. When pressing the two buttons to alley-oop, most of the time it will be a cutting lane pass to the basket. These can be easily stolen.

There is a hop step button that’s very useful to score, but it can still make the player cause a foul or get the ball stolen. There are two ways to hop step: by spin move or a regular hop step. The spin hop step is used to go around the defender and the regular hop step is used to go past him.

There is a button to take a charge on defense when the opposing player is crossing over, spinning or sprinting to the basket. This charge move is very useful, but its weakness is that it stops the player for a moment leaving him defenseless.

Overall, this game is a great basketball simulation with great attention to detail in graphics, average controls, decent sound and good basketball physics. I would recommend this game to anyone who’s more serious about the strategy of basketball rather than fast arcade play.

Contact pop arts reporter Jeremy Porter at [email protected].