Sports franchises, they make great cash cows for video game updates. Year after year they are churned out with the small of tweeks and a bit of polish and branded as a new game. Basketball. They certainly milked that one good style with different variations and street styles. But that alone does not make a bad game so lets give each one a fair chance.
And so I look towards NBA Live 08. You know on the Xbox 360 hardware it is capable of being a stunner to look at and that gameplay tends to improve with successive games. Thankfully Electronic Arts have pulled it off this time, at least partially anyhow.
Presentation wise it all looks rather nice. Nicely rendered and animated though you get the odd strange movement from players from time to time. Everything moves at a fast pace but not always depending on what you are doing and who you have. It does add the realism of mixed ability but sometimes things just seem a little 'odd'. On a more positive note the camera pans at sensible angles giving more range of choice when planning strategies. It is definitely an improvement of the 07 version.
To be honest I am fairly biased here. I love the razzamatazz of the crowd and the commentary. And running steps and bounces are fab too. It is a simple but vital part of the game which only needs to do enough if the rest of the game is up to scratch. The commentators commend your play when required and you get sucked into the action.
Now then we are getting somewhere. If you just drop into this as a fun arcade game of basketball you actually get a good deal. The style is easy to pick up and you can soon hold your own against big teams. The control method is easy to use with X, B and L1 basically dominating the proceedings within a context. Not so good for the AI however. There are some strange decisions made and open shots can go astray too easily.
Lets pretty much dump everything here as it is more or less the same as last year. You have 3 pointers, Slam Dunk challenges, rookie and FIBA tournaments. Online play gives access to leagues if you feel the need to test your skills 'properly'.
Its a toss up between this and its main rival in the 2K series. What you have here is a decent arcade experience with a little more depth if you want to go into the stats and leagues. I like 2K for gameplay but this is close and EA always present a good looking product. This can also be picked up cheaply as a pre-owned title. Good but not the definitive basketball game.