TweakTown
Tech content trusted by users in North America and around the world
5,923 Reviews & Articles | 38,168 News Posts

NBA Live 08 Xbox 360 Review

The Live series is back to take on the competition, but title hopes are not on the cards quite yet.

| Sports in Gaming | Posted: Oct 31, 2007 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 8.0%      Developer / Publisher: EASports

The NBA Live series from EASports has had its share or ups and downs. I remember playing Live religiously back in the days of the Sega

 

Genesis, but it seemed that once 3D console hardware came about and new engines had to be written, EA's premier NBA series lost a little ground on the

 

competition. Towards the latter years of the Xbox and PS2's reign atop the cutting edge gaming world, EA's Live series finally got what was

 

coming to it with a total arse bruising by 2KSports
and their [img]nbalive08_xb360_6[/img]NBA 2K series which was

 

basically superior in every way. The arrival of the Xbox 360 and PS3 gave EA a real chance to get back into the hunt for 'best NBA title' but, unfortunately,

 

NBA Live 06 and then 07 on the 'next-gen' hardware were uninspiring efforts at best. Not content being #2 in just about every NBA fan's

 

eyes, EASports have finally put their butts into action with NBA Live 08, and while EA's journey to retake NBA gaming is far from over, finally some

 

worthy competition
for 2K is here.


There was a time in the Live series on the Xbox 360 where the selection of game modes was thin at best, but EA have gradually added more or

 

less everything back from the previous generation and the result is a fully featured mode offering in 08. You have the usual 'Play Now' mode for speedy

 

exhibition play as well as an assortment of other modes to suit just about any need you could want including the almost fully featured All

 

Star Weekend with four of the more significant events,
and three modes new to the series - the 'Quick Play' mode which allows you to create a custom roster from NBA players for a one time game,

 

'Scenario Play' which allows you to define a series of options such as score and time left to create a particular scenario, and the 'FIBA World

 

Championship', which is a 8-team tournament designed for International team play but can be set for NBA teams as well. Naturally, you also have online play

 

via Xbox Live on offer, which allows for quick and league games.


Of course the game wouldn't be complete without the 'Dynasty Mode', which as any fan of the series will know allows you to assume the role of a coach as

 

you make your way through the vigorous day to day life that is managing an NBA team. This is a much evolved offering that features a lot of content and

 

activity, ranging from hiring staff to scout [img]nbalive08_xb360_8[/img]and train players, to managing the roster, defining play time priorities, dealing with player contracts, and even

 

off the court team activities for building morale
and team chemistry. There is so much going on in this mode that quite frankly the user interface sometimes struggles to keep up with odd button placements

 

and confusing designs, but this is a small price to pay for what definitely is quite a detailed mode that should keep most enthusiast NBA gamers busy

 

for quite a few 82 game seasons providing there aren't any hidden surprise dynasty killing bugs like with franchise mode in Madden 08 - everything

 

seemed ok at our end simulating a few seasons in though
(which by the way takes aaaagggggessss unless you turn "Simulation Intervention" off in the settings) so this doesn't seem to be the case

 

thankfully.


Even though the modes on offer are finally quite detailed and plentiful, they were never going to make Live 08 a great game, only prevent it from

 

instantly being a bust. With the 2K series so proficient in its gameplay, the real test for Live 08 was going to be the gameplay as well,

 

and the results are mixed. When it comes to the actual new addition to the gameplay this year, the list isn't exactly overwhelming but some key additions

 

have been made, the first of which is the "Hot
Spots" system. Based on real life statistics (or so they say), each player in this game from Dirk to Dwayne has a unique 'hot and cold' chart which

 

breaks down the shooting area on [img]nbalive08_xb360_3[/img]the

 

court into 14 zones. When a player is particularly hot from a zone it will be red, while blue is for cold, and no colour is neither hot or cold.

 

This chart can be brought up in-game by using the left bumper and while it may be a tad unrealistic to have a colour chart dominate the court during play, in

 

real life
players know where they prefer to shoot and this feature allows you to do this. You can even scout an upcoming opponent based on where their stars prefer to

 

shoot.


Everything else new and improved to the gameplay basically revolves around the fundamentals - the animations, the AI, the physics etc - which is a good

 

thing too because this is an area that the series really needed to address. The improvements will be very evident from the start for anyone who has

 

played a Live game recently because while Live games have been quite close to unplayable lately, Live 08 is a whole different story. I

 

think the first thing I noticed was the CPU AI, which
seems much improved this year. They formulate plays in real time based on opportunities much better and they generally just play much harder. You really have

 

to be weary of individual players as well, particularly when it comes to defenders good at stealing and big guys great at grabbing offensive boards, as they

 

will kill you with no hesitation if you let them. NBA Live 08 is probably the first NBA game I've played in a long time where the default stock

 

standard settings were enough to provide quite a
considerable challenge, and that's before even touching the game's bevy of included gameplay sliders.


The animation system is also clearly superior this year. The game flows in a much more 'free' manner, where possessions unfold with

 

less of a 'script' feel compared to versions past. You are rewarded for finding creases when driving to the bucket and spreading the ball around to find the

 

open man and, for the more advanced players, executing plays from the team based playbooks adds another dimension to the possibilities, particularly on

 

offense. The strongest part of Live 08 definitely seems to be the
post play, where big guys turn their back to the hoop and power or position their way in for the score. It is here where you can execute a lot of effective

 

moves including signature shots for some star players, although there are some of these designed for the mid to long range jumpers as well, such as cover boy

 

Gilbert Arena's.


It isn't all roses though, the game still has its shortcomings. While the gameplay is much improved, the flow and feel can sometimes come off as

 

lacking and rough, and there are noticeable gameplay weaknesses, like in the rebounding game which is awkward and unrealistic at times often creating

 

situations where balls drop to the floor

 

before being collected in despite a heavy presence around the hoop. When you sit back and look at the game in action, you don't really get that same sense of

 

authenticity
as you do from the 2K series, from how players react and move to how the occasional cases of poor model clipping and odd physics can disrupt the

 

realism, as well as the seemingly high number of recycled animations that wear thin quickly. This is stuff that will take EA time to refine and master

 

but I guess that's not much of a consolation prize for 08 itself. It's definitely not a case of the game becoming unplayable, it's more a case of noticeable

 

issues still being present at times - the gameplay
comes off more as a well made original Xbox title than a 360 game pushing the boundaries of current hardware. On top of this, the perfect opportunity to make

 

up for what really is still a [img]nbalive08_xb360_11[/img]work in progress game engine was missed by not exploring much in the way of presentation. The commentary is quite good and does

 

add to the realism but otherwise there isn't much here that immerses you in the game - NBA Live 08 is very business like, with a "sit down, play,

 

game over" sort of mentality that EA
really need to work on across their entire range and not just Live.


If there is one thing that EASports don't need much improvement in, it is their skill with game graphics and this rings true for NBA Live 08. I'm

 

not so sure I'd go as far saying this is the best looking basketball game out there, but it is at worst a neck and neck race. The players are particularly

 

well done and clearly reflect their real life counterparts when it comes to hair styles and tattoos as well as mostly very accurate facial textures. Outside

 

of the players, the court and surrounding detail
is also quite high in detail wrapping up what definitely is a very attractive package visually.


Is it too little too late for EA and NBA Live? While the series has been struggling to maintain a positive image over these past few years, 2K's

 

NBA 2K series has been excelling, defining the authenticity and quality we now come to expect from sports videogames and winning over NBA fans in the

 

process. The good news is fans who perhaps saw potential in the Live series before can now rejoice as this game is finally ready to be mentioned in

 

the same sentence as the 2K series, but
it is definitely not the clear cut favorite and there is still work to be done for sure. For the first time in a while though NBA gaming fans should

 

definitely take time to try the two and make their own decision because Live is a different feeling and flowing game that I'm sure will appeal to

 

more gamers this year than it has for a long time - I just doubt this appeal can outmatch 2K's, who have had a few years head start when it comes

 

to impressing gamers with quality gameplay. If you
were to take 2K out of the equation NBA Live 08 would be a worthy top flight NBA game however so the quality is definitely finally here, and I

 

expect 09 and beyond to close the gap even further. It took a while, but the Live series is making serious ground, just don't be shocked if you find

 

2KSports' NBA 2K8 to be your favorite again for another season.

[img]nbalive08_xb360_4[/img][img]nbalive08_xb360_10[/img]

Xbox 360 Elite

 

Right of Reply

We at TweakTown openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion of our content. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here.

Further Reading: Read and find more Gaming content at our Gaming reviews, guides and articles index page.

Do you get our RSS feed? Get It!

Post a Comment about this content

Latest Tech News Posts

View More News Posts

TweakTown Web Poll

Question: Facebook's acquisition of Oculus VR will...

Improve Oculus Rift Development

Hamper Oculus Rift Development

Completely destroy Oculus Rift Development

Let's wait and see, I'm not sure

or View the Results

View More Polls

Forum Activity

View More Forum Posts

Press Releases

View More Press Releases