OS Scores Explained Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 4 Overview (PC)
Some of the best GM AI in a sports simulation to date; Coaching options have improved, playing out games is not frustrating. Deep sim.
Menu bugs abound; Error messages and particularly untimely interface issues; NBA Draft needs some refinement.
Bottom Line
Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 4 is a game of Jekyll and Hyde. So good when everything is working, so bad when its not
out of 10
Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 4 REVIEW

Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 4 Review (PC)

Reviewer's Note: This game was reviewed using the latest available version, 1.1b

With Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 4, Wolverine Studios is attempting to build upon years of crafting text-based sports simulation games. This edition sees a renewed focus on the user interface, enhanced stat tracking including advanced metrics, and a more robust game engine for the head coach in all of us. DDS:PB4 is the most value-packed basketball simulation from Wolverine Studios yet, but it is not without some major issues.

The first thing I look for in a solid PC simulation game is the extent of what you can customize. DDS:PB4 passes this test with flying colors. Not only can you download and install picture packs that include players, coaches and GMs, you can modify the database with free editors available on the Internet. I recommend MDB Viewer Plus.
This will allow you to edit team names, owner names and a host of other items including directing the game to use real logos and team names every time you start a new game. You can also edit each owner's patience, desire and willingness to spend. You can even add retired jersey numbers for each team; a nice touch.

Inside the game, you can edit player ratings to your heart's content and toggle on/off Commissioner Mode at any time allowing you to make player personnel moves to all 30 teams. Before starting your career you can set a league salary cap, luxury tax level and determine the accuracy of your scouting department. Other options include allowing foreign and high school players to enter the draft, using real trade restrictions, and how “full” of a financial model you want to use. You can also enable/disable Euroleague play. This game has you covered if you want to do something related to professional basketball.
User Interface

If you've ever played a PC simulation game, you know the importance of a great, intuitive user interface. It's in this area that DDS:PB4 both reaches new heights, and hits rock bottom. As a veteran of Wolverine Studios' games, the user interface is familiar while also showing the work that went into improving in this iteration.
For newcomers, you're going to have to spend a while learning how the interface works. Things aren't as intuitive as you might expect and it's sometimes difficult to figure out how to proceed from one task to the next. Even as an experienced user, this is one of my biggest gripes with the game.

Another issue is finding the relevant information that you want, when you want it. The interface could really benefit from “hotkeys” that users could customize to quickly find whatever they deem most important.
As it is, you can eventually familiarize yourself with the menus enough to get around, but you never feel like you're able to do everything you want. Something as simple as checking out a player's FG% or 3PT% isn't as easy as looking at his statistics. Instead you have to go to a team stats page and then drill down to the individual stats.
Player cards only show basic information like PPG, RPG, APG, BPG and SPG. In the modern world of professional basketball, these are no longer the best measures for a player's value. In this era of specialists and player efficiency ratings, the five traditional measures of productivity don't provide enough useful data.

Finally, all of the UI improvements are betrayed by numerous bugs and errors that will literally halt your progress and cause you to lose hours of your work in-game. These “showstopper” bugs literally caused me enough frustration at times that I wanted to throw something across the room. With no autosave in the game (there really needs to be), you can often find yourself engrossed in the genius of the gameplay itself, and forget to save your progress.
When you are hit with an inevitable user interface error or bug, you will lose significant progress and you will be angry. So save early and save often.
Gameplay and Career Mode

This is ,by far, the most important area for a text sim to excel at, and DDS:PB4 hits the mark. You begin with the option to start as either a GM, Head Coach, or both, and you can toggle on/off the option to be fired based on performance.
To me, this game functions at it's peak as the ultimate basketball GM simulator. As a GM, you can jump in and out of any game and actually coach it if you want (similar to OOTP).
But your daily tasks will center around trying to manage the salary cap, keeping the owner happy, and creating a championship caliber team on the floor. You have full hiring/firing abilities over your coaches as the GM and you can also set your team's strategy. In one test game as Memphis, I decided that we were going to do two things. Post up and shoot 3s. So I set the playbook to run 50 percent post up and 50 percent 3-pointers. When viewing the box score, these changes actually seemed to take effect in the simulation. You can also set your depth chart, assign players to your D-League affiliate, and scout incoming draft prospects.
Coaching the games is much more enjoyable than the last Wolverine Studios game I reviewed, Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 3. Perhaps it's because having the real players shows me how well the game simulates what each player contributes.
In any case, the ability to tweak your tempo, aggressiveness, and rebounding strategy on the fly works extremely well. Late game AI is also much improved and playing the foul game at the end of a close game is now very doable and well implemented. This part of the game isn't getting the biggest part of my review, but believe me when I say that it's much, much improved. I found myself really getting a feel for each player and mixing and matching lineups like a real NBA coach to maximize their effectiveness.

The CPU GM AI in this game deserves special mention. Initially, you can set your own difficulty level, similar to any other game. One difference here is, lowering the difficulty does not make the GM AI brain dead. In other words, even if you play on the lowest difficulty level, you aren't going to poach franchise players.
At the default difficulty level I felt like the GM AI was occasionally taking me for a ride. This intelligence is so key to having an immersive experience, and Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 4 has it in spades. As a GM you can trade draft picks for the current year and the next two after that. You can also attempt a trade at any point before the trade deadline. Just like the real NBA, the trade market really heats up closer to the trade deadline, and patience is often rewarded with a better deal. Rival GMs will also come to you with trade offers, most of them sensible.
There are a few areas where the game could really improve, however.
For one, D-League affiliate management doesn't feel very effective. If you have young players who aren't seeing the floor, sending them down to the D-League doesn't guarantee that they will see any actual playing time at all. In fact, they will often times sit behind 30-year-old journeymen at the end of the bench. More influence is needed in this area, perhaps with a directive to play certain players ahead of others. Since each team has it's own D-League affiliate (32 development teams exist in total) in DDS:PB4, it stands to reason that each team would own their affiliate in the game world, and therefore have some say in the rotation.

There is no option for three or four team trades. These arrangements are so commonplace in today's NBA that their omission here is noticeable.
Lastly, I have to give give some review space to talking about the draft. In DDS:PB4, the NBA Draft is a mixture of being really well done with head-scratching design decisions. On the one hand, the lead up to the draft is well done, allowing you to scout and workout up to 20 individual players.
You also have access to a mock draft as well as combine measurables and statistics. Once you advance to the draft itself, it's probably the most well done amateur draft I've seen in a PC simulation sports game. It's complete with three talking heads discussing each pick. GM AI shines during the draft as well, as you'll see multiple trades go down and be offered many trades yourself.

The hiccups in the draft process are truly frustrating. Remember those combine numbers you had access to before the draft? Well once the draft starts, you can't access those anymore. You're also allowed to set up a draft board before the draft, targeting specific players that stood out to you before and after private workouts. You can't access this list during the draft either. Finally, the menu glitches rear their ugly heads at the worst possible time.
Once you enter the draft screen, you can't save your progress. That means relying on the game to be stable and not give you error messages while a flurry of things are happening in the background. This becomes a problem when, for example, you're checking your scouting director's recommendations late in the second round and that pop-up menu decides not to leave the screen no matter what you do causing you to have to quit the game and lose two and a half hours of drafting, trading and maneuvering. At times the game is like a brilliant psychopath – you want to appreciate it's genius but when you attempt to do so, you end up hurt and frustrated.
Final Thoughts

I really struggled with how to review this game. It has all of the pieces to be in the upper echelon of sports simulations, but it's let down so often by menu glitches, error messages and baffling design decisions.
This game is so close to being for basketball what Out of the Park is for baseball but its infuriating bugs take away so much of the joy of playing. I'm not sure any game has made me feel such a sense of love and hate at the same time.
This game is good. It's really good - when it works. Hopefully with a few more patches, this game will reach it's potential as THE sports simulation for serious pro basketball fans. As of now, it reminds me of an NBA lottery pick who hasn't produced.
You can see so much talent there, but it hasn't quite been reached yet.

Final Score: 7.0

Member Comments
# 1 Gosens6 @ 02/06/15 11:08 PM
While I agree it's a good game, and I mostly agree with your review, there's just no way that this is even close to level of immersion and gameplay features that OOTP Baseball offers.

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