STAFF REVIEW of NBA Starting Five (Xbox)

Tuesday, February 25, 2003.
by Underdog

NBA Starting Five Box art The Xbox has its share of Basketball titles to choose from. So with all these choices it kind of hard to find that special b-ball title that is worth your hard earned cash. So since I?m the whitest as they come, for my money I want a basketball game that takes me away to a magical place, where I can soar through the air, make breath taking dunks and sink threes with surgical precisions. Sadly with Konami?s latest title NBA Starting Five I was slapped back to reality, where I was getting stuffed, the ball stolen from me, pretty much everything to remind me that I have no game. So if you?re like me, you might want to stay away from this title, but if you do have some skills go check it out at your local rental store.

NBA Starting Five allows players to live the entire NBA experience by having different game play modes such as Franchise Mode, Create-a Player, and Season Play. You can build your dream franchise as the General Managers and even the player agents interact with you to try to recreate the challenges of running a NBA team. NBA SF also has coaching options to set the team's style by directing offensive and defensive tactics that may help you counter your opponent's game plan.

The gameplay aspect is sort of there, Konami did try. The shooting techniques are done fair and your shot percentage is somewhat like the pros are capable of doing during a game. But sadly enough you may find yourself shooting more bricks than you care to do. Also, the games played against the computer A.I will most likely be low scoring games due to the fact of bumped up defense that the A.I magically gets.

To get past the defense you must turn the game into a slam-dunk contest. That little strategy helps your shooting percentage becoming a little high and makes you have high scoring games. Since the outside shots rarely touch the net and all you can pretty much do is dunk, the game becomes very tiresome way before ever becoming enjoyable. Lastly, after deciding you didn?t want to play the game and decide to go ahead and simulate the game, the A.I. for the simulations are way off. The worst teams in the NBA seem to nab all the wins, while all the great teams get knocked down to the bottom of the league. So in closing, if you have the time and patience, unlike me who doesn?t, you might be able to improve your skills and maybe find some good points to this game.

Starting Five can?t hold a flame to NBA 2K3 in the graphical department. But to give it some credit, the models of the athletes are decent, but at times they look absolutely nothing like their real-life counterparts. Now, to your average Joe this might not seem to be a major problem, but for those hardcore basketball players it may be a little distracting. Also, the models do animate somewhat nicely depending on their onscreen action. The stadiums and courts representations are done well, Konami even put in those sliding courtside ads that you see along the scoring table.

The sound in this game is a toss up. The fans in the stands sound great reacting to what is happening on the court like a real audience should. There are also the typical sounds of a basket ball game such as, squeaks of sneakers, bouncing of balls or my favorite, brick shots. The toss up comes into play with the announcers. Sometimes there's absolutely no commentary, just silence for several minutes. Then just when you think the announcers went to the snack bar for a beer, Al Albert, (one of the announcers) jumps on his mic to give a quick blurb of info. The soundtrack to Starting Five has a hip hop feel to it, which seems to be necessary now a days for any basketball game that comes out for the Xbox.

Konami please stay away from the sports titles right now. Instead of giving all your good games like Contra to the PS2 first, why not make an Xbox version and see how the Xbox gamers react to that instead of sports titles. All I want is for Konami to bring back the good ole days with some UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT. B, A, START action.

Overall: 4.0 / 10
Gameplay: 4.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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