Developed by SCE Studios San Deigo, NBA 08 is the latest in Sony’s take on the NBA franchise. In this year’s edition, Sony provides a number of brand new mini-games including Block-a-Shot, Elimination, Fast Break, and Shootin’ Bricks as well as enhances past features like Conquest Mode and online multiplayer.
In addition to classic modes like HORSE, Dodgeball, Own the Court, PlayStation Skills Challenge, and 3-Point Contest; players can now jump in and try out new modes like Shooting Bricks, Breakaway, and Elimination.
If you choose Shooting Bricks you will use a basketball to break apart sections of bricks to clear levels. There is a wide array of different bricks and breaking them sometimes releases power ups or change the direction of the ball. Where Shooting Blocks separates itself from such classics like Arkanoid is the ability for you to control the angle and speed of the paddle. Also, instead of having to break every brick in the level, you will only need to find the goal basket, hidden amongst the bricks, and shoot the basketball into the goal.
In Breakaway you alternate between offense and defense in a 3 on 2 games. When on offense your goal is to score as many points as possible before having the clock run out. However, be smart when throwing passes or careful when dribbling near defenders, as losing the ball to an interception or steal gives the defense points.
When playing Elimination, you will be taking to the courts in a team-based game where you win by scoring a set number of points with each of your players. As you reach a set number of points with a player, they are removed from the team and remaining players receive various power-ups. The first team to remove all of their players wins. The only suggestion I would make for this game mode is that Sony make it available online next year. Elimination is great and when neck and neck with the computer the game gets very intense.
Conquest Mode makes a re-appearance this year only this time providing enhanced upgrades for player skills and home city amenities. This is probably one of the best features outside of playing season or online. In Conquest you pick a team/home city and challenge-connecting cities to winner takes all matches. Your goal is to eventually own every team and city on the map, and as you progress you earn new players, skill points, awards, and upgrades for your cities. If you ever get bored of playing exhibition matches or online this is the place to go.
The overall control layout is very similar to any basketball title you may have played. On offense, Circle is shoot, Square for lay-ins and dunks, X for pass, and Triangle for jump. On Defense, Circle and X are for switching players, Square for steal, and Triangle for block or jump.
The only beef I have with the controls is shooting. When going for a jump shot or fade away there is no indicator for when to release the ball. On the PS3 version, there is a meter showing specific colors for how likely the basket will be made (Red for miss, Yellow for probable, and Green for likely). Adding this feature will make shooting much easier.
In terms of graphics, NBA 08 is about the same as last year’s edition. Some notable differences include; larger character models, new mo-cap animations, and better presentation for player highlights. Also Sony continues the tradition by having the game run at a solid 60fps.
When looking at the presentation of NBA 08, you will notice that Sony has done a light overhaul on providing new play-by-play commentary from Ian Eagle and Mark Jackson and introducing the all new Highlight Reel which allows you to re-live the biggest plays from a completed game.
Overall Sony has done a great job on improving the franchise for the PSP. With the new additions and enhanced gameplay, NBA 08 is your best bet when looking for a basketball game on the PlayStation Portable.