Alright, I picked up this game only cause I wanted to see how well EA's competition has been doing, cause I know EA's sports games are all **** on pc.
Its not all roses, but for the most part I'm impressed.
Right off the bat I was really impressed...start up load times. This game is a beast, needing something like 6 gigs to install, yet the title intro is showing like 5 seconds after clicking the games icon and I am 2 clicks away from starting a single quick game (ok, it does take a couple seconds as it loads a whole bunch of your settings too). The games them selves have a small load time that is well concealed by star player intros, with a high quality video clip playing for each. The pre-load was done before the 2nd clip started. Before hitting my first game, I changed all my graphic settings to their highest (The fact the game started at 1680x1050 on the first run scores huge points in my book too), except for AA. I feel 1650x1050 on a 20 inch lcd offers fine enough lines that I need not sacrifice performance on AA. I kick in AA on the rare occasion that I need to kick resolutions down to 1280 for frame rate issues, I think cod4 and crysis are the only 2. With high graphic settings, my rig had no trouble offering a silky smooth frame rate. The only time I saw the fps dip was a rare highlight wide-shot from the goal which ended up showing 3 sides of the gym's crowd.
Visual content wise, I havn't playd either of the console versions, but I think the player models are higher in the pc version (there is an ultra mode for model detail). It seemed better then the screen shots of the consoles I've seen, but can't doe a side by side comparison. Anyways for the most part the player models were all good. Good body detail and very distinguishable features (some better then others), great clothing physics. Arena wise, it was great to see a fully realized 3d crowd. All sides of the gym had a fully 3d crowd, never switching to 2d panels on wide shots. This game uses a kick ass 3d engine indeed. There is a very high 2nd level set of bleachers that are 2d panels, but I didn't even see them until I viewed the highlight reels at the end of a game.
Control wise, the menus are fubard. There is definitely a console port feel as most options are done via the controller, EXCEPT when selecting your teams in which you need to use your mouse to click the arrows. You can't actually scroll through them with the game pad. Thankfully the player control remains the same as the consoles, and you have access to most of the games menus within the game if you want. Players controled very smoothly, although the game uses a sort of dual meter system for energy now and it really didn't need it. I don't know if we can totally blame Gatorade for this, but I'm gonna. At the end of a game, you can watch a plethora of reels dealing with all of the players shots and rebounds, best plays of the game, as well as the usual statistics.
Sounds in the game seemed good, some of the menu music I could care less for but the mini-tracks during the game were all of high quality and good beats. Crowed sound was very realistic and the announcers had quite abit of chatter but didn't seem annoying. Possibly because the default sound levels put them at an almost barely understandable sound level so it is very easy to ignore them when you want too. The game was also good about reproducing signature sounds from different teams arenas.
Now for my small niggles of disappointment. The crowd while being the best I've seen so far, could have been tweaked a little bit more to not look so stupid. While the main wide shot of the game has a variety of people/clothing, behind the goals is a different story. It is largly comprised of one male model, split up between no more then 2 shirt colors. The reason for this? It appears so much time was spent on player animation that the ONLY crowd model that got the animation of hitting the plush foam bars with the team colors together on foul shots is this one male model! To make things worse, no effort was made to desynch them so they all swing at the same time/speed/rate. Also at first I was impressed when I saw people walking the stairs and down the pit, until I realized it was a) the same male model as above and b) they actually just pace back and forth, never actually going to a chair to sit.
That was prolly my worst annoyance, I did notice, rarly, that some player portraits in the game were of the 3d model and not an actual photo of the person. Apparently the NBA image database dosn't replace google's image search when it comes to their own players?