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ESPN NBA 2Night
Preview By: Joe Rolfe
Developer:   Konami
Publisher:   Konami
Genre:   Basketball
# of Players:    1-4
Est. Release Date:   November 2000
Posted:   10-30-00

Itís ironic for the first ESPN video game title to be a NBA game. After all, ESPN feature baseball, football and hockey, but no sign of hoops anywhere. Still, NBA 2Night is provides some of the best NBA coverage you can find offline and on your TV, so it made pretty good sense to license the name for a video game. For some strange reason, however, the game itself has seen little to no coverage whatsoever by the gaming public. Konami, the gameís publisher and developer, has held out a lot of information regarding the upcoming basketball title. Even with early reports showing strong potential, NBA 2Night hasnít received nearly the amount of press that NBA 2K1 and NBA Live 2001 have. With a release in just over a month away, this could be an early doom for Konamiís first hoops attempt since the mediocre days of In the Zone. Then again, In the Zone was a classic for itís time and didnít get much attention either, so this could be a blessing in disguise.

Konami is planning on delivering a blitzkrieg of ESPN mannerisms, so look for anything ESPN trademarked and made logos of to be in the game. 2Night will use our favorite ESPN menus and overlays, the same authentic ones that deliver tons of statistics on the screen at once made popular by Sports Center. The color commentary is composed of Brent Musberger doing the play-by-play, complimented by Sports Center anchor Stuart Scott doing the color. While the former is slightly new to the scene, the latter is an icon of sports journalists around the country. Scott popularized the phrases "Booyah!" and "Cooler than the other side of the pillow", among others, so those who have followed his work for a long time should see the same characteristics of his voice flow throughout 2Night.

Graphically speaking, 2Night looks to be at a point between Visual Conceptsí NBA 2K1 and EA Sportsí NBA Live 2001. The color shading and light sourcing looks a bit more advanced than VCís hoops effort, although the textures arenít quite as smooth and realistic as Live. However, Konami is promoting an unheard of 75-plus varied facial and emotional animations. Players will be scaled to real life, including tattoos, facial hair and body types. Early footage shows that the animation is a tad choppy and not quite up to par with the competition, but this could all very well be changed by the time 2Night goes gold.

Konami is really going for the gold rings in the gameplay department by concentrating on defensive play and (not surprisingly) low post play. 2Night will really make you earn your defensive position by pushing and towing back and forth with opposers. Hand checks, blocks and backboard pins will be designed in the game in which no other basketball sim has really focused on. And just like all the other basketball games set for release this fall, 2Night will be working on the low-post play in the paint, too. Hooks, turn around jumpers and over 40 dunks are due in line for the final copy of ESPN 2Night.

So beyond the info I mentioned, Konami has been brief on the full features and abilities that the game should explore. Despite this, the ESPN license (and Stuart Scott) can go a long way in the titleís success. Polished visuals and an interesting dedication point might just make 2Night a winner when it hits shelves this winter.

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