Another addition to NBA 2K3 is the midair adjustment. If you're a point guard driving through the lane and you see a center coming over to block your layup, you can adjust the shot in midair so the defender will miss the ball completely. It's pretty cool looking and works well against opponents (particularly when controlled by humans) who like to have a big man waiting around the basket.
The post-up game is still really solid. When your player goes into the post, you can try to back the defender down and get as close to the basket as possible before turning around for a quick jump shot, or you can put the ball on the ground and try to dribble to the basket with your shoulder driving into the opponent. The latter option doesn't always work that well for a straight dunk or layup because the animation is so slow that it gives plenty of time for another defender to come over and double, but it's usually good for getting closer to the basket. In addition, sometimes it feels like your player will get stuck to another player when trying to drive to the basket in such a manner, resulting in an annoying break with realism and some choppy animation.
If there's one area where NBA 2K3 could use some more work, it's the passing game. As in previous games in the NBA 2K series, the default method is still incredibly inaccurate, so much so that your players will occasionally pass the ball in the direction opposite the one selected with your controller input. However, the icon passing system is still intact, and you can use the right analog stick to pass if you don't want to stop just before passing the ball.
Whether you're playing zone or man-to-man, playing the passing lanes is absolutely crucial on defense. The easiest way to steal the ball in NBA 2K3 is to put a defensive player's body directly between two offensive players. One of the opposing players will try to pass the ball to the other one, but since you're in the way, your player will steal the ball. The same applies to fronting on post players--simply use a guard to double-team the opposing team's post-up player, and you'll increase your chances of stealing the ball dramatically. It might seem like steals would occur frequently since the passing system can be inaccurate at times, but surprisingly, they don't.
NBA 2K3 on the Xbox is hands down the best-looking version of the game. The player models look a little smoother and just generally better than those in other versions, and Visual Concepts has also added a special effect that makes it look as though the players are sweating while playing. But again, it certainly looks as though Visual Concepts spent more time on relatively high-profile players, because some of the lesser-known players aren't quite as accurately modeled. Some visual improvements have also been made to the environments--an entire first row in the bleachers is modeled with polygons, and fully modeled mascots and cheerleaders hang around the basket (though, unfortunately, not every mascot is represented). It's also worth noting that the replays in the Xbox version feature some nice special effects. For example, you'll see the entire screen in black and white with the exception of the ball, which retains its color--it's a small touch that enhances the overall presentation of the game.
Visual Concepts has added some visual enhancements to the Xbox version, such as specular highlights that mimic sweat.
The series' audio components, which support Dolby 5.1, have also been refined for NBA 2K3. The commentary in the game is very smooth, and rarely do the play-by-play and color commentary sound robotic. Plus, the two announcers make some rather insightful comments on the action transpiring on the court. There is a little repetition when certain types of plays are involved, but the announcers repeat themselves far less frequently than in previous games in the series.
NBA 2K3 is a great simulation of basketball, so any Xbox owner with an interest in the sport couldn't go wrong with it. The half-court elements of the game are executed particularly well as you'll see when trying to break down the defense by going into the post, driving through the lane, or setting up a perimeter shot--it all adds up to gameplay with real depth. The game does have a few shortcomings, but they're not the sort that dramatically hinder gameplay; rather, they encourage you to play NBA 2K3 as a pure simulation.
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