NBA 09: The Inside
Players: 1+ Player Game | Genre: Sports
After watching the Celtics destroy every NBA team they faced last season, I, as a Dallas Mavericks fan, quickly grew bored of the playoffs that saw my beloved team exit in the first round. (Just remember kids, never trade youth for old age... You might end up with Jason Kidd.) Despite the last NBA season, my love for the game of basketball was reborn when the US Olympic "Redeem Team" went into China and took home shiny gold medals. After this feat was accomplished, I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to wait for the upcoming season... that is until a copy of NBA 09: The Inside arrived on my desk.
Sony has made previous attempts to bring a decent basketball game to the PlayStation 3. And while these efforts have been playable, the biggest feature of their NBA titles is the story-driven simulation mode known as The Life. Prior to NBA 09, this was a feature found only on the PlayStation 2. I certainly don't mind the PS2 having an innovative gameplay mode... However, I never understood why it was not included in the PlayStation 3 versions of NBA games. Fear not, this mode is available in NBA 09. The Life mode will feature storylines for three different positions: Point Guard, Shooting Guard/Small Forward, and Center/Power Forward. This will allow you to live out the NBA life by taking one of these positions and making it as a NBA player. Players can use a pre-existing character or create their own from scratch.
In addition to The Life mode, NBA 09 also features a brand new Franchise mode that allows for a lot more fun than previous attempts. Players will be asked to manage the salary cap, trades, and coaching strategies. One area where most Franchise modes fall apart is the crazy trades that allow you to send a spare player for an all-star. This won't occur in NBA 09 and other teams will refuse trades unless they are getting something of value in return. If the Mavericks only had NBA 09: The Inside last season.... But I digress. Another new feature in the revamped Franchise mode is the ability to draft players, sign them to contracts, and get them to training camp to improve their skills. With the changes made to these two features alone, NBA 09: The Inside is shaping up to be a great title.
Upon loading up NBA 09: The Inside for the first time, the game will recall your favorite team and will give you an option to not only create your own player--but up to five players to create your own customized roster and build them within the franchise mode mentioned above. As you perform in a game, you will receive credits that can be used to increase your skills and buy other items like jerseys and other gear for your players, open up new courts to play on, and more. I am also very happy to see that NBA 09: The Inside will feature a full range of PlayStation 3 trophies. I hope this is a sign of things to come from PS3 games. I hear too many people complaining about the lack of trophies in PS3 titles and it seems that the development community echos these concerns from a recent Editorial we did at E3 2008. Hopefully going forward, the vast majority, if not all, PS3 titles will have trophies available.
Returning to NBA 09 is the NBA Replay feature that allows players to relive moments of the past NBA season. This year, the mode is being tweaked somewhat to include breakout performances of individual players and also team performances. For example, you will need to take control of the Celtics and bring them back to beat the Lakers in Game 4 of the NBA Finals or lead the aging Dallas Mavericks to win number 50 to set the franchise as one of only a handful of teams that have won 50 or more games in a season consecutively over an 8 year period.
In addition to NBA Replay, there are a ton of mini-games to play. The newest additions are Blacktop Golf and Rabbit. Blacktop golf places your players on the court and attempts to make a basket in the fewest strokes. In order to get setup for the shot, you will have to shoot in into different trash cans all over the court. This is the only way to advance your player. If you knock over a trashcan, you will add a penalty shot onto your player. Rabbit has players chase after rabbits that appear on the court. After a short while, they will freeze and you will need to make your way over to them and successfully make a shot where they were. The player who scores the most Rabbit shots wins.
NBA 09: The Inside is shaping up to be a great title for the PlayStation 3. In addition, a PS2 version is in the works--alongside a PSP port. The PSP port is a scaled down version of the PS3 and contains its own mini-games. These include categories like Team Games, Solo Games, Quests, Carnival, and Pinball. No matter if you are gaming on a next-generation platform, looking for NBA fun on the road, or still craving a new experience for your PS2, NBA 09: The Inside looks to be a big improvement over the previous versions. There are still a few minor gameplay issues to iron out but we expect this title to deliver one of the best NBA experiences this year.