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NBA Inside Drive 2002

High Voltage Software





NBA action doesn't get any better than this. Microsoft's new franchise is a good one.

Microsoft decided that they wanted to bring their own brand of basketball to the Xbox and we are glad they did. This new franchise is as solid as they come. This game brings it in all areas of gameplay and is one of the best looking basketball games to date. Usually for a first generation console sports game, visuals will be what stand out, with not a big emphasis on gameplay. That is not the case with NBA Inside Drive. High Voltage really concentrated heavily on the gameplay aspects of an NBA game and the final product is enjoyable on both ends of the court.

NBA Inside Drive features an exhibition, season, and a playoff mode. That is basically all that it offers and the biggest weakness of the game. The lack of features can really hurt a game like this, but the game is good enough in other areas to more than compensate for these subtractions. You can trade and sign players during season mode and you can also draft your ultimate fantasy team. All basic settings are available to the casual or hardcore hoop fan to change before getting into the game such as backcourt, 3 second violation, intensity of foul calling, fatigue, traveling, out of bounds, and etc. Real-time coaching allows the player to change strategy on the fly using the D-pad.

You will be hard pressed to find a game with better looking visuals - regardless of platform. The amount of detail displayed by the player models will simply astound you. Players look exactly like themselves from head to toe This game features over 200 individually modeled player heads, 15 custom body types, and individual skin textures for each players (such as signature tattoos). Each model delivers the most realistic ballplayer ever seen in any basketball game.

There are many camera settings within the game, from the famous action camera used in the 2K2 series to the high slash camera. Again, to really appreciate those player models, I suggest you putting it on the drive camera. The fine detailed accuracy displayed on the arenas is something that is also noticed from the fine detail of San Antonio's Alamodome with the big curtain to New York's most famous arena in Madison Square Garden.

Gameplay is always important in any game, but especially when playing a basketball game. Such things as opponent AI, offense fluidity, and defensive presence need accurate representation to make the player feel a part of the sport. NBA Inside Drive delivers truly great gameplay for a first generation Xbox title. The fast break offense is evident with certain teams such as the Nets, Mavericks, and Kings, but you have certain teams that play their brand of basketball through the half court offense such as the Knicks, Heat, and 76ers. Every NBA team has a unique style of play, you just have to learn to D against it.

The Lakers will run the triangle and the Jazz will primarily run screen plays. Some teams will push the ball harder on the fast break and take more risks, whereas others will be more conservative and instead lean toward finding good scoring opportunities in the half court game. Each team plays up to their qualities - weaknesses can be found in bad teams (such as the Chicago Bulls even in all star mode, sorry guys). You won't see the Chicago Bulls giving the Philadelphia 76ers any problems, but if you play the Lakers, their triangle offense is run to perfection and you better be on the top of your game. [But did Seattle choke it continually in the playoffs? - Ed.]

You won't be able to blow by your opponents all the time and dunk the ball. That's a good thing because it makes the game a little more challenging and causes the casual gamer to think about what offense he wants to run certain times during the game. It's also not true to the sport. Play calling on the fly is a great addition as your defense and offense can be run through the D-pad easily.

You can choose what offensive and defensive plays you want on your D-pad and through that, you can choose your defensive intensity and your offensive plays. Another great thing about this game is that if you pressure the other team constantly, you will see your team getting tired. Your opponent will recognize this and start fast breaking on you. You will be giving up all kinds of dunks from putting your intensity on high and playing full court defense.

Running a team on the floor has such a smooth feeling to the game. The controls are very smooth and in great positions on the Xbox controller that will make it very easy to control for the player. The X button is used for shooting and the A is used for passing and switching players. The white button really impressed me as it is used to call for a screen. Usually you would see the teammate that is the closest step up to the screen, but the teammate who does it the best will step up. For instance, John Stockton is running the offense and you decide to call out a screen. Guess who steps up? You got it, Karl Malone.

The passing game has to be done with accuracy in Inside Drive or you will get burned. Many lackadaisical passes that are thrown are intercepted and once in a while, you will have to use icon passing to get it to the player that you want handling the ball. The stellar AI will always keep you thinking as they intercept those lazy passes and double-teaming on your team's star. The opponent will keep feeding the ball the hot guy, for instance, if Kobe Bryant is dominating the game, Derek Fisher will keep giving him the ball.

The commentary in Inside Drive does a great job when you have awesome announcers in Kevin Calabro and Marques Johnson. Marques Johnson says some ridiculous things that you will have to play the game to find out. The sound effects are the one true staple on this game. The crowd will roar for the home team as they make their run and get more subtle when the other team makes their run. They will then explode with great enthusiasm when a spectacular play is made. The crowd effects make this game truly special.

Peter Hartofolis
Likes getting the good game on.

NBA Inside Drive 2002: The Scores













The Final Word:  NBA Inside Drive is one of those first generation Xbox titles that succeeds in every way shape or form. It blows the competition in NBA Live 2002 away and I was pleasantly surprised to see how the gameplay of this title was so solid. I really thought that this game would be about its visuals, but once I played this game, its gameplay just made me want to play more. While the lack of game modes keep this game from being perfect, but there is always next time. Besides, this game compensates for this lack of modes in other areas.

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