Let us think back in time for a moment. Remember that glorious day when everyone thought that the future of gaming had arrived - especially sports gaming. Yea that's right, the day the PS2 came out. Well that day is turning out to be the day that the Dreamcast was released and not the PS2. So far we have had to endure ridiculously bad sports games thinking that "boy, this is going to be a great game" when the only thing we were playing was a little better version of its PSX counterpart. Now 989 has come out with NBA Shootout for the PS2 and is telling everyone that it has its own unique game engine and not just a PSX upgrade. Well that is true, but it still doesn't mean that this new game engine is worth fifty bucks and a few hours of your life.
Presentation/Graphics : 44
I have officially given up on any future 989 titles being worth anything more than a rental and even that might be a little too much money to spend. Lets start off with what little looks good in NBA Shootout 2001. As a whole, the arenas themselves are nice. All the courts seem to be accurately represented with player reflections and shadows coming off the court well. The crowd has good depth and they do get up out of their seats at times. The benches even animate well and react to what's going on in the game. Well that's about it for the good so here's the bad and the ugly all rolled into one. First off, what's up with all the hunched back players? Everyone runs around the floor looking like Igor or the Hunchback from Notre Dame. It's terrible and you just can't ever get over it, nor should you have too. I can't believe that no one at 989 ever said, "hey those players are too hunchbacked, somebody straighten them up." It's one of those mysteries in life that will never be solved. Also all the games seem too dim for my taste. It's like a few of the lights have blown out in the arena and weren't replaced, which makes things a little tough to see at times. But maybe 989's plan was to cover up the hideously ugly player faces. When a player gets a close-up put on him things can get down right ugly. Players have discolored, zombie-like faces and sometimes even no lips. Am I playing basketball or watching Night of the Living Dead. Yes, it's that bad.
Presentation/Audio : 45
Again we will start off with what little sounds good in Shootout 2001 - the crowd. Let's see, they yell loud and often. They also react at the right time and that's always a plus. They boo the visiting team and cheer for the home team. What more could you ask for from a crowd than that. The announcer is a different story. He can get repetitive at times and comes off a little apathetic. There's no "color" man to back him up or take the pressure off of him so you would think that 989 would have focused more on the court noises like a little trash talkin' or some chest bumpin' but that's not the case either. No, we didn't get any of that. What we did get was a delayed swoosh sound when the ball goes through the net. It's like you're watching a basketball game about 100 yards away and you don't hear that swoosh until the ball has hit the court. Another great thing is when players get a little physical and start running into each other, it sounds very mechanical. Please, these are human beings not robots. And for the kicker, you don't even have any real-time tennis shoe squeaks here. It literally sounds like the programmers just decided to load some squeaky shoe sounds on a track and play that same track over and over again. It's all starting to sound pathetic isn't it?
Interface/Options : 49
What Shootout 2001 gives you are your three basic modes of gameplay - exhibition, season, and playoffs. That's about it. There's no power locks or power windows on this model. All you get are the bare bones with this title and few extras. That's fine and dandy but I would like at least a couple of options. There's not a franchise mode or even one-on-one play to be found here. I guess 989's thinking is what's the use in adding all these features to a title that's barely worth playing and they're right. Why make a Dodge Neon that comes with leather seats? In today's basketball titles, those extras have now become standard and without them your basketball game just doesn't feel complete. Now before the game starts you've got standard menus for player stats and strategies. They are easy to navigate through and are detailed quite nicely. Hey, don't look now but there is a create-a-player mode. Wow, that almost makes up for everything else. No, not really, but there is a unique personality attribute included. Here you can set percentages and decide if a player is more likely to dunk in someone's face or pass. There are over fifteen attributes to choose from and all are utilized during in game action.
Gameplay : 41
The heart of any game is going to be the gameplay and Shootout 2001 has about as much heart as a large gerbil. One thing that I love to do in a game of basketball is to box out and rebound above the rim. About the only game that can or ever has been able to do that well is NBA2K1. In Shootout, it takes an act of Congress to box out anyone for a rebound. You can sum up the rebound problem with one word and that's "DELAY." What happens is when you press the button to box out your opponent it takes a second for the reaction to occur. Then if you do happen to get into position, it's hard to stay there because it's almost impossible to control your man with any type of precise movements. The whole low-post game on the offensive and defensive side is a complete mess. If you do happen to come down with an above-the-rim rebound, the game starts to go into slow motion as soon as you grab the ball. It's like the whole rebound animation is done in slow motion causing what little flow there is in the game to be lost.
Also the ball comes off the rim like it's flat and if it hits the ground look out because you'd think the court was covered in molasses. The ball rolls very slowly and it will actually come to a complete stop. How pathetic is that? You want more delays? All the special moves are delayed. It takes about a second after you press the button on your controller for the move to activate. If you want Francis to do his spin move on someone, you will need to think ahead an extra second to where you're going to be so that you can make the move earlier. Sounds like a lot of fun, doesn't it?
Oh, and hey one last thing. Do you remember when Jordan was a one-man show back in the Eighties? His teammates would just stand around while he dribbled everywhere and right before the 24-second shot clock would expire, he would dunk the ball. For the most part that's how Shootout plays. Your teammates sometimes act like they have never played basketball before. Most of the time they just stand around like idiots while you do your thing. I've seen more motion out of a dead opossum. This happens on a consistent basis too. Sometimes the ball will just be lying on the court with about three people standing around it and one of them will eventually slowly bend over and pick the ball up. If I absolutely have to say one good thing about Shootout 2001 it is that there are a quite a few different dunks that you can do. That's one thing about the gameplay that was nice - lots of dunks.
Replay Value : 35
You can't have too much replay value in a game that's really not worth playing too much in the first place. This is not a one-player friendly game. Again, it has no franchise or one-on-one mode that has become the norm in today's standard basketball games. Shootout 2001 could get a little better if you're playing against a buddy, but in my mind that really wouldn't help matters all that much. Hey, you could split the rental fee and cut your costs even more if you just have to try this game.
Overall : 41
My suggestion from here on out is that every time you see a 989 sports title sitting on the shelf, whether it's at Best Buy, EB, or even Blockbuster just pretend it's not there. Pass right by it like it's invisible and don't even think about picking it up and looking at the back of the box because all you will be seeing and reading are lies. So from now on 989 doesn't exist in my world of videogames. Well now I can stop banging my head against the wall and wondering how such bad games can exist on a system that's supposed to be the future of gaming. Hey, I'm starting to feel better already.