NanDEMOnai is a semi-regular attempt to profile demos for forthcoming games as unbiasedly as possible, based on their own merits and without any consideration of hype, publisher legacy, place within a franchise, or basis on any existing property. I'm just here to discuss how the demo feels, whether it makes the upcoming release stand out as interesting, and extrapolate how the full game may end up being. Basically, a preview with as little context as possible, like a blind date.
As a player, even when playing something I'm not particularly used to, I like to have some sense of control. A bit of menu-age, some clear sense of where I'm going before things start happening, that's all I'm asking. 2K Games manages to provide neither of the above in the demo for their forthcoming NBA title, and it's not cool.
Upon firing up the demo, you're greeted with a splash screen telling you to press Start to play or B to leave. Pressing start thrusts you, without warning, into a jumbled, pre-game slew of players walking around and stats flying across the screen, in this case for a Mavs/Heat game as per the most recent NBA finals. No option or guidance of any sort is provided the player, save for a momentary run-over of how to shoot with the right analog stick before you tip off.
You can go in and check out the control scheme via the pause menu, but after getting jerked around like that right from the get-go, I wasn't too intent on playing through the entire game. It didn't help one bit that the game's graphics look like they were up-rezzed from a late PS2/Xbox era game, rather than remotely current in a sea of competently high-definition titles. It's the sort of game you'd pick up after a few drinks, think you're having a great time with, pass out after a couple of quarters, and then wake up the next morning only to roll over, blink a couple of times, and wonder, "What was I thinking?
" while scrambling to find your pants and get the hell out of there before the game wakes up.
What I'm saying is that the game's pug-fugly, far moreso than any current game really ought to be. The court looks nice, but every inhabitant thereof, from the players to the crowd and cheerleaders... ugh. It's nice that this is apparently "the most realistic basketball game," according to the exit splash that lists the features of the full game, but one's left to wonder how much of that is due to EA Sports' NBA franchises being in limbo after the failed transition from Live to Elite last year.
If you're really desperate for a hoops fix, and can stand to live without current rosters or whatever else gets refreshed in these things every year, either track down the most recent NBA Live for dirt cheap, wait for NBA Elite to not be a backburnered, broken mess, or pick up NBA Jam, which looks and plays better regardless of version. Wii, XBLA/PSN, SNES, Genesis, whatever; they're all a step up.
LOOK WHO CAME: