It?s refreshing to play a game that knows its limits and knows its target audience. Total Pro Basketball 2005 (TPB2005) is the latest version of GDS Software?s sports management simulation, and it goes about the business of roping in fantasy basketball geeks and corralling them in a world of deliciously detailed menus with panache.
Acting as general manager and coach, TPB2005 allows the player to run a pro basketball franchise. Offering a variety of management modes, TPB2005 is an attractive download for any fan of sports management simulations. Though TPB2005 does not have a licensing agreement with the NBA, one soon forgives the lack of recognizable names as soon as one is completely immersed in everything from depth charts, coaching strategies to contract negotiations and marketing promotions. Each fictional player comes with a bevy of stats that would put ESPN to shame. Analyzing and responding to your team?s talents and proclivities is the difference between success and mediocrity. The ultimate result is that you get to know your fictional players on an intimate basis, and as you progress through multiple seasons, you get to know them as well as you know your hometown team.
Everything from ticket prices to scouting is under your control. Actual games are best simulated, but the player has the option to ?play? each game. This takes the form of a text play-by-play set against a top-down graphic of representative jerseys jumping around a court. During the game, the player has several options to substitute personnel, adjust strategies and even ?work? the referee, but it seems as if this portion of the game received the least amount of care. This reviewer ran into a situation where a player had fouled out, but it proved impossible to sub another player for him in the substitutions menu, thereby preventing the game from being finished. This aspect of TPB2005 is unimportant in this reviewer?s opinion as it is not the core strength of this title. Micro-management of a sports franchise is what it?s all about, and TPB2005 does a very nice job in that regard.
Menus that are refined and arranged in a much more logical fashion are what set this TPB title apart from past iterations. There was never a time that this reviewer found himself lost, without an idea of where to go for what was needed. TPB2005 uses an e-mail box to direct you through the various stages of a season from training camp to the rookie draft. Acting as a sort of in-game help or tutorial, this addition is the biggest positive for TPB2005.
Scouting is much improved as well. The player still has the ability to keep tabs on the top college, high school and international talent during the course of the season, but the player now has the option to review the opinions of four scouts, each with different strengths in evaluating talent. Prior to the rookie draft, one can invite up to 15 players to workouts. This will result in much more detailed assessments from your scouting staff.
The rest of the cycle of seasons plays out much like an NBA season: draft lottery, draft and summer leagues for your developing talent. TPB2005 is truly pornography for statisticians.
In the event that you are new to sports management simulations, be warned that this is not a flashy, bass-thumping experience. It is cerebral where most other sports games gaudily play up the gladiatorial aspects of pro sports. As such, it is an acquired taste. However, this reviewer encourages you take that first taste. It usually leads to a lifelong addiction to titles such as this much to the dismay of your free time.