NBA Live 08 Review
EA Sports is most well known for their powerhouse franchise Madden. They have had no legitimate competition to that series ever since they locked up the NFL license. However that isn't the case with their NBA franchise, NBA Live. Seems that EA has yet to get exclusive right to the NBA for some reason and that means that other developers are also releasing NBA games. Does this competition help EA create a better basketball game or have they just created another in a long line of good, but not great, NBA games? That's where I come in...
NBA Live 07 for the Xbox 360 was not a game that I cared much for as it seemed rushed and incomplete. Pretty much right from the start I could tell that NBA Live 08 was going to be a better experience than its previous version. Live 08 adds a few more features but it's the little touches and attention to detail that make it a much better game. Sure, there is room for improvement but they are certainly stepping it up.
NBA Live 08 is a good balance between an arcade game, which could quickly grow stale, and a full-blown simulation, which could get too complicated to be fun. Live 08's strongest feature is the gameplay itself. The controls feel good with the left stick controlling player movement while the right stick jumps in with something called Quick Strike Ballhandling. Quick Strike allows you to put together a series of special moves, like a crossover dribble quickly followed by a behind-the-back pass, that are pretty easy to pull off. The Quick Strike control comes in very handy as a way to create a bit of separation between you and the defender so you have enough space to nail the jumper. After a few games using the left and right sticks together you become fairly comfortable with the controls and really start to put some sweet moves together. You will notice that some players are much better at these moves than others, which makes sense, and that trying to get too fancy with a less skilled player will just lead to a fast-break going the other way.
Besides the Quick strike control, the normal controls are nice and a big improvement over last year. It's hard to figure out what exactly is different but it just feels better. The Hot Spot feature is another addition for Live 08 and allows you to determine the best spot on the court for your player to shoot from. Obviously different NBA players are more comfortable from specific areas on the court so to find out what the best areas are for the player you're currently controlling just press the Left Bumper and a graphical overlay shows up on the court. The court is divided into areas and each is color coded; red areas indicate a higher percentage area while blue shows you where you are most likely to shoot a brick. Once you play several games with the players you'll start to remember where their Hot Spots are and will see your shooting percentage go up.