Sony Computer Entertainment San Diego heads to the hoop to slam dunk their second breakaway NBA offering on the PS3. Keeping the PSP and PS2 alive, NBA ’08 gets a multi-platform release hoping to keep Sony fans cheering for their home grown basketball franchise and not the other ballers challenging for bragging rights.

Immediately after you boot up NBA 08 on the PS3 you’ll have an old school video montage and then thrown into the create-a-player stage where you make your dynamic b-baller to head up your favourite team. This brings the gamer into the fore front making them feel important right from the get go. The depth of the create-a-character is a little lacking compared to most other offerings, however "corn rolled" or "afro" you will have a digital representation of the player you would want to be, or are. Then you out to jump into some quick play action, start a season, play offs, or sign in to online and try your luck globally. All in all NBA 08 hits you hard as a complete package, and this being my first PS3 basketball adventure, I was instantly impressed with the quality of the groundwork from Sony’s San Diego Studios.

Getting into the action, NBA 08 is easy to learn and fun. Although I found a focus to be on the “Free6” controls that claim to be an easy way to pull of moves with the flick of your wrist. We’ll let me tell you this doesn’t work so flawlessly and turns into another showing where a game is focusing on impressing gamers with the Sixaxis motion capabilities rather than getting down to business. Not to point out NBA ‘08’s flaws right away, but here we have another game with motion controls that don’t benefit the core gameplay mechanics.

The Free6 controls go for both offense and defensive moves which adds an extra level of difficulty to the mix, or an ease if you get into mastering these controls. I’m not going to bash the motion controls too much because I'm sure the developers have spent a lot of time getting them down so they mesh well with the gameplay, its the newbie’s that really have a trouble with the nuances it takes to master the motion which I can totally understand. For me a casual NBA player, I just focused on the action and left the Sixaxis turkey business aside. After two hours, I had enough of trying to jerking and jiving and reverted to the straight forward shoot, deke, and 3 point strategy.

Aside from the Free6 concept the controls in NBA 08 are simple to master and addictively charming. The shot meter which is a timed meter is perfect to add a little stress to those three pointers. Jump shooting, hooks, dunks are also simple to connect with and easy to learn. You can also use a No Look Pass to try and get by a persistent defender which is helpful most of the time. On defence the game is similar, being easy to learn. Even a novice basketball gamer can winning most of the matches, stealing balls left and right and setting up some sic offensive plays. One added bonus to showcasing you dexterity with the controls is the Showtime feature that boosts your team up when you perform well on the court. This will boost energy, speed and give an added skill to your shooting. This meter is filled mainly by alley ooping, no-look passing and fast break scores. With the Showtime activated its time to turn up the heat and start knocking them down the court.

Switching back to the player you created in the beginning of the game is refereed to as the "Progression System". This allows you to go through any game mode to earn credits that unlock special features in the game like new courts, arenas, and jerseys, or you can just spend it outfitting your player and advancing his skills. The points earned in a game instantly bank into the Progression system and can be accessed from the main menu. Besides winning games credits can also be unlocked by completed goals, either mode goals or game goals. Game goals are things related to in game action like scoring a certain amount of rebounds. Mode goals are different for each game mode within NBA 08 that will give you an added bonus that you can really help the talents of your player. For example a mode goal would be to win the NBA Championship. Like I mentioned in the opening the Progression system draws the gamer into NBA 08 and makes them feel like part of the game. It’s not a revolution in gaming or anything, just a nice touch that goes a long way.

NBA 08 makes a return with NBA Replay featuring 34 weeks of the 06-07 NBA season. In the replay mode you will have to hit shots and recreate the exact performance from the real game. This is more than tough and something I couldn’t invest the time into. If you ready for the challenge, NBA 08 has three difficulty levels for you to shadow real life within the digital court. Good luck putting yourself into the shoes of the biggest and best in the NBA.

One difference between all the NBA 08 versions covering the PSP, PS2, and PS3 is there special feature which in the PSP version is the Block Party, in the PS2, the Life v3, and the PS3, Games of the Week. Since we’re still on about the PS3 lets find out what Games of the Week is all about. This feature ties in the online world with the offline world in a unique way. During the playoffs and regular season there will be five new challenges posted every week online. You then go online and download the challenge and play it offline. If you complete a challenge you can then go for bragging rights on the leaderboards to see how you make out vs. the rest of the world. For me this is a strange feature, but an interesting and unpredictable idea. If you plan on playing NBA 08 all year until 09 then, this feature might seem like the best out of the bunch. If you’re only playing NBA 08 to fill some time between other sports games and waiting for Ratchet Clank then the Games of the Week might be a totally useless feature. Any way it is an interesting approach that only time can tell if it works out.

In the PSP’s case I really like the mini-games in the Block Party and the expanded modes mainly the conquest mode which I find to be a lot of fun. I have the same feelings when going into the PS2 version as well. The Life in the PS2 version of NBA has been improving ever since it’s was introduced and Volume 3 gives more than before. Comparing these two with the Games of the Week seems like a little bit of a bad trade off. I don’t understand why Sony didn’t make the PS3 version the ultimate version of NBA with all the features from the PSP and PS2 game incorporated. If this is so gamers will go out and by more than one version, or each version, I think they will be in for a shocker. At the most gamers might pick up the portable version and one console game, so why not give it them the same options around the board. Overall I’m all for the PSP and PS2’s special features, and it is sad to say, but the PS3 version doesn’t measure up.

For a deeper look into the PSP version, you have a focus on mini-games, and the normal season, plus the returning conquest mode. The mini-games have now been split into two separate categories one for the regular mini-games like Own the Court and Dogeball with two new additions, Fast Break (3 vs. 2) and Elimination (5 vs. 5) These two new games are fun, challenging and offer something a new little new to the expanding list of options. More interesting is the other category, Carnival games. The carnival section offers three returning modes, Big Shooter, Pinball, and Pop-A-Shot. Pinball has always been a soft spot in my heart so I’m glad the expanding this mode with the option of downloading new tables online in the future. A cool concept now lets see if Sony holds up there end of the bargain. The other games in this category are Block-A-Shot which is basically Whack-A-Mole and Shootin’ Bricks which is basically a NBA Arkanoid. This shows a lot of care for the PSP version and offers up a nice diversion from the normal b-ball action and excellent strategy influenced Conquest mode.

Graphically NBA 08 on the PS3 is impressive at first glance running at a steady 60 FPS in full HD which supports 1080p. This lasts until you start to get into the action for a while and really start to watch the players move. When you’ve invested more time into the game, NBA 08 seems a little too plastic, un-realistic, and limited concerning its animations and individuality. This is an important factor in sports games because every developer is tiring to capture realism and natural movement into a game which is a lot harder than it seems. For NBA 08 I would have to say the graphics are a little underwhelming however they still look good if you’re not too picky and care more about how the game feels then looks. I feel NBA has a lot of room to grow and the graphics, motion capturing and general feel of the game could have been capture better. In constant improvement, I’m sure more resources will be put into this area in the future. Concerning the PSP version of NBA 08 we have another perfect showcase for the portable monster. NBA 08 in comparison looks great scaled down and running on the pint sized widescreen.

The audio features in NBA 08 boast commentary from Kevin Calabro of the Seattle SuperSonics on the play-by-play action and Mark Jackson from the YES Network for colour commentary and analysis. This team of Kevin and Mark seem to work good enough for NBA 08 to get by, however they don’t match up to watching a real game on the tube. The commentary is skilfully woven into the mix of cinematics, overlay bars and stand music and crowd noise. NBA 08 doesn’t really master any of the audio components even with the over enthusiastic crowd rousing, duo commentary and full THX sound.

If you have the option, it’s odd to say, but I would pick the Playstation Portable version over the Playstation 3. NBA 08 for the PSP is a sharper more developed version of last years excellent version which now includes some new mini-games and the returning modes that made NBA 07 so polished. This isn’t reflected in the PS3 version which suffers from all the care given to the Free6 motion controls and not the gameplay and other trouble areas like graphics. NBA 08 on the PS3 feature of Games of Week isn’t as groundbreaking or impressive as the PSP’s mini-game selection or the PS2 versions The Life. I honestly expected a little more out of the NBA 08 on the PS3, and I was hoping they ported over The Life onto the disc. Given the format of Blu-Ray I feel the PS3 version skimped out on what it could have been.

Besides all the qualms, NBA 08 for the PS3 is still entertaining with a concentrated focus on the gamer contributing to the game with the original progression system. It’s not enough to make up for what the PS3 version looses compared to the other versions, but it’s still enough to recommend having a look at NBA 08 along side the other developer’s ballers. Next year, I hope they can make the PS3 version the grand daddy of NBA 08, making it your one stop source for NBA action.

Gameplay: 7, Graphics/Sound:6, Innovation: 6, Mojo:6.5 PS3 Final: 6.5 / 10

Gameplay: 8, Graphics/Sound:8, Innovation: 7, Mojo:8 PSP Final: 8 / 10

Reviewed by Jimmy | 10.05.07


  • Greater Online Accessibility (PS3) – Utilizing an online hub where players can readily share game features and data, NBA ’08 provides a streamlined approach for online basketball gaming.
  • NBA Replay (Games of the Week) – Returning with an all-new set of upcoming highlight-reel plays, “Games of the Week” will allow players to download five scenarios each week involving real NBA games from the upcoming ’07 -’08 season.
  • Enhanced Gameplay and A.I. (PS3) – In addition to the core fundamentals of gameplay, NBA ’08 improves on team gameplay elements. Offensive and defensive player positioning is more authentic, where players space themselves correctly on offense and defenders react more realistically to shots, layups, and shifts in offense.
  • All-New Progression System (PS3) – NBA ’08 introduces a new system of rewarding players for game exploration and advancement by providing numerous customizable player options.
  • Greater SIXAXIS Controls (PS3) – Expanded SIXAXIS functionality provides an all-new and deeper set of control options including specific dribbles as well as high and low offensive and defensive moves.
  • Expanded Character Movement (PS3) – A new contact mechanism takes into account a player’s momentum when pushing into one another, introducing a “physical” (as opposed to finesse) game play mechanic.
  • Brand New Animations (PS3) – Animation variety is significantly increased, featuring a variety of new passing and dribbling styles, defensive postures that include high and wide coverage, as well as new looks for box out and post-up activity.
  • Enhanced Character Models (PS3) – Utilizing a refined version of lighting and shader techniques, NBA ’08 produces characters that look more authentic and realistic than ever.
  • Full HD at 1080p (PS3) – NBA ‘08 continues to deliver true high definition at 60 frames per second, delivering the sharpest and most realistic basketball experience available.
  • Mini-Games (PS3) – Play on your own or against friends in multiple mini-games including “Own The Court”, 3-Point Shootout, and the PlayStation Skills Challenge.
  • Brand New Full Audio Commentary (PS3/PSP) – NBA ’08 now delivers the sights and sounds of an NBA broadcast to the user with authentic play-by-play and in-depth color commentary.
  • Enhanced Conquest Mode (PSP) – NBA ’08 brings back the critically acclaimed Conquest Mode, allowing players to once again participate in a game of territory acquisition and management.
  • All-New Suite of Mini-Games (PSP)– In addition to returning classics such as HORSE, Dodgeball, Own the Court, PlayStation Skills Challenge, and 3-Point Contest.
  • New Carnival-Style Mini-Games (PSP) – With returning mini-game classics such as Pop-a-Shot, Pinball, and Skee-ball, NBA ’08 adds games such as Fast Break, Block-a-Shot, and Alley-Oop, each of which allow players to earn tickets for unlockable items.
  • Improved Season Mode (PSP) – Season mode features such as simulation, trades, free agent lists, and injuries, are now enhanced with elements of player management and team chemistry settings that add complexity to each season and continue to deliver challenging basketball.
  • New Downloadable Content (PSP) – Updated pinball boards will be released to consumers regularly after launch and team roster updates will be made available on a weekly basis..
  • Pick Up mode (PSP) – Players will alternate choosing from 10 randomly selected NBA players and match up with the CPU or another player in an outdoor full-court game.
  • Ladder Challenge (PSP) – Compete in a challenging mini-game or exhibition mode series and earn reward tickets for working to the top of the ladder.
  • Wireless Multiplayer Gameplay (PSP) – Ad Hoc connectivity of up to four PSP systems, or link to a network via a wireless local area network (VLAN) access point for multiplayer action nationwide.

NBA 08


SCEA San Diego


US Release
Oct. 2007