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     " Stupid charging fouls, what weenie came up with this rule anyway? "

      Title: NBA Shoot Out 2001 by 989 Studios

      Format: Basketball for the Playstation

      Reviewing Monkey: Chimpan-A

      The Hype: Boasting new 3D acceleration, and intuitive play controls, all amid "unsurpassed NBA realism", this game promises quite a bit of fast furious hoop action. Nothing but net? Air ball? Read on, fellow Monkey.

      What This Monkey Thought...

      Graphics: The polygon count for the players is actually pretty good. Plus, generally youíre far enough away that the slightly jagged edges arenít readily apparent. Everybody moves quite smoothly, with only a rare graphics jump. As far as the "3D acceleration", well donít expect to be blown away is all Iím saying here. The face modeling is pretty good, with a lot of stars being fairly recognizable. Once again though, donít expect to be anything really amazing. Itís certainly nothing we havenít seen many times before 3 out of 5

      Sound: There are only a few musical pieces, if you donít count the arena music (by which I mean the snippets of Aretha Franklinís "Respect", or BTOís "Takiní care of Business", etc. which play during the game). What music there is though, sucks. Seriously, the guy who came up with the "Twooo thousaaand ooone" crap song that plays, as the theme, needs to be shot. On the flip side though, the sound effects are all excellent. The proper squeak of shoes on the court, the crowd cheering and booing, or even yelling appropriate strategy tips (like "Shoot it!" and "Make the play!"). Mad Props go out to Ian Eagle who pulled off the miraculous. He actually manages to run a play-by-play announcement that doesnít get annoying after the first ten minutes. Granted, thereís a little problem with the play calls getting behind when another sound preempts them, but in general theyíre right on target. Itís definitely a nice touch for realism. 4 out of 5

      Game Play: The controls are all fairly easy to understand and utilize, but be prepared for frustration when things get hectic. Shooting is a risky business at best; even when you control the accuracy of your shotsÖAnd youíll often shout various obscenities as shots that should be swishing away are instead being rebounded by the other team. You also have no control over what kind of shot your player takes when you hit the shoot button. You just press and hope for the best. None of this, of course, stops the computer from making a large percentage of its shots. Luckily they included an option to allow last minute come from behind victories. The game plays under two reality settings, arcade and simulation. The only real difference being that players will sub out due to fatigue in simulation. So, as you can guess, reality takes a bit of a back seat, even in sim mode. To quote a few of the monkeys during multiplayer testing: "Whatís with the full court pass?" "Yeah well, Sabonis can dunk from the free throw line, so weíre not ruling out anything at this point." (Thatís Portland Trailblazers Center Arvydas Sabonis for those in the know, whose 7í3" and 292 lb. for those who arenít) Apparently when the ball is passed it enters a different dimension in which the five defenders in the way have no possible chance of intercepting it. Speaking of defenders, Iíve seen teamsters who were more active. Rare indeed is the man of action who will boldly stand there while the opponent drives to the hole. The rosters are current as of the 99-00 seasons, but youíll be able to make trades as you see fit so building your perfect team isnít too far away. You can adjust plenty of rules, including the calling of fouls. That can be a true godsend when the game begins to go ballistic on the foul calls. I mean really, someone explain to me how I can get called for charging a guy whoís five feet behind me at the time? The game features three modes: Exhibition, Season, and Playoff. You can either play through the season to get your team to the playoffs, or just set up your own playoffs. The season can consist of as few as 28 games to the actual 82. If you are playing 82 games, youíll appreciate the ability to either skip the game, or to just let the computer run all of your guys for a game (although if youíre letting the computer do it, be prepared to lose). There can be a lot of fun moments, but there are also a lot of foibles that will drag the game down. 2 out of 5

      Level and Environment Designs: Itís a court. What do you want? Flowers? Balloons? Well too bad. You get two baskets and a logo in the middle. Thatís it kids. Okay, Iíll grant you the exception of the LA Lakers home court, which is done in "Eyesore Yellow". Of course all of the billboards that would normally surround a court are instead replaced with "989" ads, but can we really blame them? They did make the game after all. Donít get me wrong, thereís nothing inherently wrong with the courts. To be honest, Iím quite sure they did all they could with them. 4.5 out of 5

      Multiplayer: Now here is a game for multiplayer! Plug in two multi-taps and eight controllers and youíve got yourself a game going. Of course you donít have to have that many players, but itís cool that they allow it. Have fun calling your friends and neighbors morons for not making the shot, or for running out of bounds for the 500th time! Player lock will keep the computer from randomly switching your player to an unmanned one. 4 out of 5

      Replayability: Hereís the thing. See they named the game NBA Shoot Out 2001. Apparently that means that 2001 is all you get. Once youíve completed a season (and playoffs if youíve qualified), thatís it. Your day is done. Starting a new season overwrites the last one. Youíre stuck in the year 2001 for all time. Depending on how long a Season youíve just played this can either be no biggie, or the biggest travesty to hit man since Home Alone 3. With all of the foibles this game has, youíre going to have to be a much more die-hard basketball sim fan than this reviewer to want another go at it. There are two creation tools, one for players and one for dunks. The dunk tool is relatively simple. The player tool is rather inadequately explained, and if you goof up, thereís no correcting the error, so you get to live with it. 3.5 out of 5

      Story/Dramatics: Hoo boy, when they broached that love story about how Shawn Kemp and Grant Hill went off to Hawaii, and came back as "Life partners" with an 11 year old Malaysian boy. Then Gary Payton left to pursue a Broadway career. Then Shaquille OíNeal made "Kazaam", and "Steel", and "Shaq-Fu". Wait, no that was just a terrible, terrible nightmare. And I made the other stuff up. ITíS BASKETBALL PEOPLE! What were you expecting? Pathos? Drama? Too bad. You get basketball. About as close as youíll come is perusing the injury list.

      Instructions and Learning Curve: The instructions are great for those of us who donít know whatís meant when you get called for the myriad of fouls you will eventually get called for. Otherwise the instructions are pretty useless. Everything in the game that isnít self explanatory (with the exception of the fouls I just mentioned) isnít covered in the manual. The in game help is bare bones at best. It doesnít help that a lot of times the same button will perform a completely different task in a different screen. Youíll pick up the basics pretty quickly, but expect to be muddling your way through for quite some time. 2 out of 5

      Installation and Real System Requirements: A couple of things here. First off, the game carries mod protection, so those who like to play import games may wish to beware before plunking down their cash. Second, in one of the weirdest save systems ever, the game doesnít allow you to overwrite a previous save game. You have to delete the previous one and then save the game again. On the other hand, it does give you the ability to name your game, so I guess thatís something. The game functions well on the Playstation with middling load times, and fast play, this is probably a good look at the tops a PS1 can handle, but I donít think itís the tops. 3 out of 5

      The Verdict:


       If you are really heavily into basketball games, then you may want to look this one up. Otherwise, just leave it alone. There are far to many pitfalls and oddities to keep the less than hardy fan interested. Hey, better yet, why not just go to the park and play a little real basketball, itís good for you. Okay, finish reading the other reviews first.

      The Good: Basketball with lots of real life superstars to add to your roster

      The Bad: Too many oddities (stupid charging fouls, what weenie came up with this rule anyway?)

      The Overall Ugly: Hard-core basketball fans, give it a try. Everyone else, go to the park.

      What it's Worth: Market

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