Total Pro Basketball Review (PC)
For those that question the moves Isiah Thomas and Danny Ainge make in New York and Boston, .400 Software Studios releases their pro basketball text simulator, “Total Pro Basketball”. For armchair GM’s, it’s “put up or shut up” time as the user can wade through the perils of the salary cap, superstar injuries, and the ever-present threat of getting canned. Can this game live up to its title?
“Total Pro Basketball” is a text-based game. Thus, no arguments about shoes, headbands, and the wrong logo on the court apply here. The game doesn’t have an NBA license, so the real logos, team names, and players aren’t included in the initial game. However, there is a great community out there that can provide you with mods to make the game include all the people you see on the tube.
As GM, you can take over whichever team you’d like at the start. After that, you’re in total control. Want to charge more for tickets? Go right ahead and make the cheap seats cheaper and charge Spike twice as much to watch his Knicks. The user can make trades with another team, although three or more team deals are not an option. The NBDL provides for an interesting portion of this game. During the course of the season, you can get stats from the NBDL about certain players in the minor league. This allows you to scout someone in case the injury bug hits during your season.
Well, you’ve been through part of the season and the team just doesn’t seem to be doing as well as it should be. So what can you do about it? “Total Pro Basketball” allows the GM to tinker with the depth chart and adjust players’ individual sliders so that they pass or shoot more often. The players aren’t the problem? Well, just fire the coach- just like the rest of the Eastern Conference has. Playing a game, however, is nothing special and I found it somewhat dull. If you’re “coaching” your game, you’re taken to a screen that looks like ESPN’s Gametracker. From here you can adjust your plays, make substitutions, and change defensive matchups. Results from each play are described in a narration box on the screen. I found that this screen updated far too slow for my taste and even on the fastest setting, it took a while to play each game.
After that playoff run or disappointing end to the season, it’s time for the GM’s to really earn their salaries. The off season is the best time to change your team and start building towards the NBA title. “Total Pro Basketball” handles the NBA Draft in an effective and enjoyable fashion. Before draft day, you can sort through analysis of the prospects and even view mock drafts to help you in your decisions. However, once you hit the draft button to start the draft, it starts a “real-time” draft. Once it’s your turn, you’ll only have five real minutes to select your draft pick.
I did have some reservations about “Total Pro Basketball”, however. As mentioned earlier, I would prefer that the speed of each game was faster. Stats also appear out of whack. I have played through ten seasons, and the scoring leader never had an average of above 21.2 points per game. Blocks were also a tad excessive, as the leaders were always above seven or so a game. I also think that sifting through contracts can be handled a little better. Why not have a box that pops up at the end of a season showing you the expiring contracts, instead of making the user try to remember that and then have to go through three or four different menus.
The interface for “Total Pro Basketball” is solid. It’s easy on the eyes, which allows the user to play the game for a long period of time. It would help if the different parts of the game were linked together a bit better. I should be able to click on a player, and from that screen, be able to offer him an extension, put him on injured reserve, etc. All other parts of the interface are nicely done and add to the accessibility of the game.
The game does provide some nice background music for your “simming”. Also, there are sound effects present when you play a game on screen. It’s a nice touch.
This isn’t a bad first effort for .400 Software Studios. I love the draft idea and the impact that a GM can have on the finances of the team. However, the unrealistic simulated stats are a huge roadblock right now, but all that repairing that requires is some tweaking by the programming team. Is it worth the $35? Perhaps not today, but the future is bright. Let’s call this a “Darko” game. The potential is there, but it’s just a little rough around the edges right now.