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The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
What's it about?
2K Sports has been the king of the hoops hill for a few seasons. Don't expect that standing to change with the release of NBA 2K9, a smooth, fast-paced brand of pro basketball. With an already robust level of control, the franchise adds only a few refinements.
The most significant addition is the Living Rosters feature, a daily online update of player ratings and tendencies. Each time you boot up, the game automatically uploads the latest ratings. For example, if a point guard experiences a cold streak shooting the ball, his ratings will reflect the slump. On the court, the action has been slightly tweaked. For those unfamiliar with the series, players execute jump shots by pulling back the right analog stick, then releasing. For NBA 2K9, the Shot Stick can now be used to change shots in mid-air.
Is it any good?
Visually, the series has made major strides. Players models look more polished. As you progress through games, you'll notice beads of sweat form on their foreheads as they get tired. Crowds are boisterous. The swishes and clanks from the rim sound crisp. Online, options have been expanded to include 5-on-5 multiplayer and a ranking system to measure your skills.
Overall, games are perfectly balanced between half-court sets and the fast break. As for the controls, they might be complicated for younger players. Beyond on-the-court gameplay, the directional pad is mapped to four different areas, including quick substitutions and playcalling. Dribbling is tricky as well. Player movement and ballhandling are both mapped to the analog stick. When you press the left trigger, you can execute your dribble moves. The problem is you must be very precise to pull off moves even as simple as a crossover. However, the troubles with NBA 2K9 are minor when you consider the robust level of controls and gameplay options available.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.