NBA 2K9 Review – Is It Still The King Of The Court?

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NBA 2K9 is back again this year and even with major improvements coming in the NBA Live series, 2K9 doesn’t appear like it will give up its crown anytime soon. The game is back with its trademark excellent gameplay as well as a few other tricks.

NBA Live 2009 or NBA 2K9, I say NBA 2K9 no doubt about it.

The star of the show this year is no doubt NBA 2K9’s TV style game presentation. With support up to 1080p, the graphics are simply amazing. Every player looks like themselves, they all move very naturally. On an HDTV, you can literally see the sweet dripping off of Greg Oden’s face. But more than the graphics themselves, it’s the entire game presentation that has been done better in this game than any other sports game that I have played to date. As you play the game and watch the game, you literally feel like you could be watching a real live NBA game. 2K has done an excellent job of cutting in the highlights that occur during the game into the montage that you see at the end of quarters and when a player is having a good game. The accuracy with which they deliver the NBA experience to its players is what will clearly set this title apart from any other sports title you have played so far this year.

The Association franchise mode is back and better than ever. What is interesting about this year’s version is the fact that you can select upfront which task you would like to do and which you would prefer the computer take care of. During the course of the year, the computer will offer you trades but even better ones that actually make sense for both teams. At NBA.COM, you can check out all the happenings around the league, you can find out who’s happy and who’s not, what players are looking to become free agents at the end of the year, and through the rumor mill what players might be a good target for a blockbuster trade. Player personalities are back and this year you can see what a player’s ambitions are and you can see early what his feelings are about resigning with your team way before the season is over so that if you know he is going to try out free agency you might want to trade him and at least get some value for him.

The graphics are just ridiculous!!

The gameplay in itself is excellent, it feels very real. The A.I. does actually learn based on what you do and starts to counter it. For instance, if you like to come down the court every time and set up and then dump it down to your big man eventually the computer will adapt and start to either press the ballhandler or start fronting your big men. They have an all new control scheme that some will like and while it is ok, I must admit that I prefer the old controls and quickly switched it back. By doing this you lose some of the ability to do the really, really cool stuff easily but it is a tradeoff I was willing to take. As any every basketball game the biggest problem to me has always been the ability to play really good defense, that is still hard to do on this year’s version but with Lock-On D and Shading it has become a little easier once you master both of these skills and unless you want Steve Nash or CP3 to simply dissect you all game long I would suggest that you master both of these skills.

By using Lock-On D, it allows you to hold L2 and then be able to stay with the ball carrier anywhere he goes which in and of itself is nothing new. But when combined with Shading which allows you to use the right stick to play your man to the left to funnel him to the right, up close to pressure him, back off if you don’t want to get shook, or just about any other way you would want to play him makes the two a very powerful combination. The also have put in touch passing where once you press the pass button if you press it again before the ball gets to your teammate it will “log” the pass and then that teammate will instantly touch pass it to another teammate, this is really effective on fast breaks.

While NBA 2K9 does not have the DNA like NBA Live 09 which is supposed to take the stats from the real games the players play and then adjust their skills accordingly, 2K9 does provide the Living Rosters feature which basically does the same thing. It will monitor a players progress throughout the season, so you remember how last year dudes like Luis Scola,  Al Horford, and Jemario Moon stepped up big but on the game they were not as good well no more because this year if O.J. Mayo or Derrick Rose start stepping up big and helping their teams win then it will be reflected in NBA 2K9. But the same rule applies the opposite way, if a guy is struggling in real life his stats will drop and he will struggle on the game. The same rules will apply for injuries, trades, waivings, if it happens in the NBA it will happen on the game.

I wonder who wins this one?

Where NBA 2K9 has really taken it to another level is with its online mode. This year for the first time ever players will be able to team up with up 4 of their friends and play another team set up the same way, so basically you could have 10 people in 10 different parts of the world all playing in one game. This I think is an excellent feature that gives players that feeling of comradery that they up until now have only really been able to get in FPS’s or by having their friends right there with them. 2K9 has brought back the Team 2K9 team which takes the best players online and gives the chance to win prizes and also to be in next year’s game.

As I said earlier this is the most close to real life TV style presentation of a sports game I have ever seen. Whoever was responsible for putting this in deserves some props, I mean you really feel like you could be watching this on NBC or something. Besides the sometimes annoying inability to stop certain players on defense, the fact that just on the Pro level the computer hardly ever misses even when you are in their face,  this game has definitely forever raised the bar in what it means to deliver a gaming experience that very closely resembles the production that we watch on TV. If you are trying to decide whether to buy NBA Live or NBA 2K9, I recommend 2K9. I realize that gamers are really split on this, usually even if the other one is better gamers usually stick to the one they know and while NBA Live 09 is good it is not 2K9. If you don’t believe me, I suggest you download the demos from the Playstation store before you buy. I am very excited to give NBA 2K9 4.7 out of 5 stars. Well I guess there is only one thing left to say.. I will see you on the court.

Update: Normally,  I don’t do this but my boy T-Will says I have to say something about this. Can somebody at 2K Sports please fix the stability of the online games? I mean really it is starting to get a little ridiculous. It’s not enough that I can’t just go in a lobby, find my friend and start a game but the fact that there are still even two months the game’s release so MANY problems playing online is ridiculous. The game stutters, jerks, and at points becomes completely unresponsive. They just released an update for it and it now seems to be worse than before. Get it together 2K Sports, you guys used to be the measuring stick but EA is closing that gap and I might consider NBA Live next year.

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Lorenzo Winfrey

Lorenzo Winfrey

Editor-In-Chief at ZoKnowsGaming
I am the Co-Ceo of DLT Digital Media. We are a company that is focused on developing new and innovative web properties in addition to developing WordPress based web sites for others. But before I was all that, I was a gamer.
Lorenzo Winfrey