amid all the talk of xbox versusGameCube, the death of what many folks feel was the ultimate new-school video game machine, Sega's Dreamcast, has been overlooked. The last two big games created especially for the Dreamcast are reminders of how good we had it.NBA 2K2 may be the best basketball game ever created. PS2 might have NBA Live and the much-loved NBA Street, but Sega's masterpiece combines the two.
The setting and look are disturbingly realistic here, from the players' faces and signature moves to the look of each individual arena. Every aspect of the game can be controlled and manipulated, which makes NBA 2K2 remarkably lifelike but also incredibly difficult to master without signing yourself up for an entire season.
The on-court action is the obvious draw, but the real fun begins when you start to tinker with the settings. Want to make Iverson perfect that shake-and-bake crossover-to-jam? Put him in the practice room for a couple of hours. Wish you'd been around to see Bill Walton and Wilt Chamberlain in action? In addition to the regular league teams available for play, there are classic all-star teams from the 70s, complete with blowout afros, knee-high socks and sweatbands.
Even better, take your players out of the court and into the street. NBA 2K2 lets you play everything from two-on-two to five aside games in famed street courts like New York's West Fourth Cage. Those drooling over the prospect of Kobe and Vince squaring up on the concrete with no refs in sight can strip them down to T-shirts and let them go at it, complete with trash-talking.
And despite its demise, Dreamcast is still the only player right now to offer online gaming. Put your Raps up against some clown in Chicago and let the rout begin.
Tennis 2K2 is similar in its look but falls a bit short in the execution. The Williams sisters are the star attraction, complete with surreal form-fitting dresses and death stares for their opponents. Monica Seles grunts when she hits the ball, Patrick Rafter isn't as good as you wish he were and Anna Kournikova is nowhere to be seen.
The play and feel of the game are bang-on. What's baffling, though, is that while many of the star men and women players are available to choose from, you can't actually do what everyone in the tennis world wants to engineer: a battle between, say, Serena Williams and Carlos Moya. What are they afraid of?
nba 2k2 for Sega Dreamcast, $60. Rating: NNNNN
TENNIS 2K2 for Sega Dreamcast, $60. Rating: NNN