Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. 100
    A basketball technician’s dream. Games against the CPU realistically mimic a real game, while scrimmages against friends received a boost of energy thanks to sped-up gameplay and better shot blocking. ESPN NBA Basketball 2K4 retains the top slot by just a hair.
  2. Features a fantastic franchise mode and a completely different 24/7 mode, making this game the two best basketball games available in one neat package.
  3. Minor gripes aside, Visual Concepts has elevanted its game to an untouchable level. "Live" really has nothing on it. [Nov 2003, p.170]
  4. 92
    Not only is the gameplay tight, but the addition of 24/7 mode adds a whole new level to the term "must buy"... Overall the best playing basketball game this season.
  5. When you face a player, it's almost like a fighting game: who will execute the proper move first? [Nov 2003, p.104]
  6. In the end, EA's got the player control, but Sega's got the online play and more realism, so that may be the difference-maker for you. [Dec 2003, p.153]
  7. Until the developers master the riddle of team A.I. (players here don't always respond properly in certain situations), work remains undone. Even so, this year's model is great.
  8. A unique gameplay mode called 24/7... is so addictive, it's likely that many players will spend more time in 24/7 than playing standard games. If you are planning on buying only one basketball game this year, ESPN NBA Basketball is the one to get.
  9. Every so often a rare title comes along that is so exceptional, so impressive that it’s nearly impossible to find a flaw. ESPN NBA Basketball is one of those games. For b-ball fans there is simply no other game with this level of depth, and for non-basketball fans it’s an excellent opportunity to learn the game, become acquainted with the players and experience the most realistic simulation of the NBA experience.
  10. It’s clear that they designed this game to play more like “Live” did last year out of the box. While that will probably help them sell more copies of the game, I feel Visual Concepts should have focused on other more important problems; like off the ball movement and in game AI, before adding other modes and removing key features.
  11. I like more of a sim aspect in my sports games which leaves me undecided about the new arcadish feel of this game.
  12. 85
    I rarely start off a review talking about how a game looks or sounds, but the presentation of this game can't be understated. It looks and sounds spectacular.
  13. With its excellent graphics and myriad game modes, ESPN NBA Basketball is a good, strong title. The gameplay quirks like rebounding difficulty and the canned animations are there and can be frustrating, but are easily overlooked when you take in the big picture.
  14. An absolute must buy for basketball enthusiasts (football fans think of "Pro Evoultion Soccer 3," with a license and Live capabilities). For anyone else: this is as good as console basketball gets, so try it.
  15. Aimed toward the more "casual" sport gamer. If you just want to pick up the controller occasionally and play some basketball, ESPN is your game.
  16. 80
    Clearly, the 24/7 mode is the most impressive element, and it could've easily been its own release. All combined, it adds up to a very good game, due largely to the breakout star.
  17. Of all the anouncers in the world, ESPN utilizes the unfailingly annoying Kevin Frazier. [Dec/Jan 2004, p.84]
  18. It's the bugs, the lousy camera, the lack of online leagues for Xbox and absolute necessity to adjust all of the gameplay sliders to find that decent game that shoots the overall score way down.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 24 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 20
  2. Negative: 2 out of 20
  1. BobB.
    Mar 20, 2004
    The game sucks, go out and get NBA Live 2004, it kicks ass, but dont get it on PS2 b/c PS2 online basketball games have a rather slowing down to it.
  2. BennyL.
    Mar 1, 2004
    When will Sega get it right? The AI of Shaquille O'Neal is so unrealistic. Don't get me wrong, I like ESPN (see previous review) but I mean c'mon. How can it be possible for Shaq to average 24.2 rebounds per game when every normal person knows his career average is 12.9? I played though 3 career 82 game seasons just to make sure it wasn't a glitch in the AI, but sure enough he maintained that ridiculous average. So yeah, apart from that it's not bad hey? Full Review »
  3. LeonardH.
    Mar 1, 2004
    On the pick and roll the picks need to be more exact, and the players ability should decrease as their energy decreases during the game. Other than that the game is good in my eyes. Full Review »