Basketball-obsessed PC gamers (all four of them) haven’t gotten a lot of respect lately. But unlike EA’s recent crappy NBA Live PS2 ports, 2K Games’ NBA 2K9 is a full-blooded port from the current generation of consoles, with the kind of broadcast-quality presentational polish that EA used to be renowned for. Most immediately impressive is the player animation, which is full of character, varied, and fluid even during actions as straightforward as dribbling the ball. No longer a mysterious dark art, defense in particular feels like a leap forward for the genre because of how well the game handles physicality and obstruction.
NBA 2K9 features a nefarious AI that knows how to hold up play if the shot-clock is on their side at the end of a quarter, and even intentionally foul if they’re scrambling for points as the seconds run out. Awareness of the greater flow of a match is something that’s rarely seen in sports game AI, and it makes a noticeable difference. Of course, as it is a console port, there are a few of the usual hang-ups. The game is almost impossible to play without a gamepad, and even then, button prompts are numbered, making it a struggle to get to grips with more advanced moves. The interface is also utterly befuddling, and very nearly hobbles the impressively extensive management back end of the career mode.
It’s easy to say that this is a basketball fan’s best bet in the face of very limp competition, but NBA 2K9 is a great sports game in its own right. Whether you’re a fan or not, it’s fast, fluid, and authentic in every area, and certainly worth the meager $20.
PC Gamer scores games on a percentage scale, which is rounded to the closest whole number to determine the GamesRadar score.
PCG Final Verdict: 83% (excellent)
Dec 17, 2008