NBA in the Zone '98

Best hoop game of the year? Not quite...

Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Genre: Sports

It s no question that the In the Zone titles are the best two-player basketball games for the PlayStation -- hands down. And although Konami made a ton of improvements in the gameplay, In the Zone 98 still possesses a couple of flaws from last year s version that keep it from being the best hoops game to get.

In the Zone 98 has all the features you would expect to see in any basketball game. Full NBA license, updated rosters and stats, multiple camera angles, more dunks and even Glen Rice s endorsement. So what could possibly be wrong with the game?

The problem with all of the In the Zone titles is that their one-player mode sucks. And although EA Sports NBA Live 98 has its own flaws, EA has always kept it real with a great library of sim options and its tight one-player modes. In ITZ 98, the same problems that appeared in last year s version still exist in today s go-around. For example, the stealing is still unbalanced in this game. I can average roughly 15 steals a game with Shawn Kemp alone -- and he s a power forward. Just imagine how many I get with Bobby Sura. Stealing is a part of the game, but it shouldn t be the game.

Now I know I ve been a little harsh so far, but Konami has actually made some really good improvements to the gameplay that are worth mentioning. Like the alley-oop. Last year, the alley-oop was literally impossible to stop -- it was an automatic two points. To get an alley-oop now is little harder. The defense now keeps your teammates posted so far out of the key that they can t just simply turn around and grab the alley-opp pass. You either have to call a pick and roll play, or wait for him to cut to the basket.

One thing that the In the Zone games do really well is reenact the dunk. The dunk is the most exciting event in a basketball game, and In the Zone 98 has the best dunks in any basketball title across the board. It s not just the type of dunk that s exhilarating, but when you cram on someone and draw the foul, it s even more satisfying. And not pick on EA Sports, but when you dip in NBA Live 98, it s just not as exciting as dunking in ITZ 98. When you nut on one of your friends in ITZ 98, I guarantee you, you ll hold your mouth and go, ooooohh! ... well I do that anyway.

Overall, if you want a serious sit-down hoop game, I would recommend EA Sports NBA Live 98. On the other hand, if you re having a whole bunch of friends over and you need a hoop game that everyone is going to love, grabbing a copy of In the Zone 98 would be my pick.