NBA '08 Review
It's got to be hard on some game franchises once the next generation games start to roll out. Take NBA 08: The Life v3 for the PlayStation 2. This PS2 version is probably feeling some jealousy toward its brothers on the PSP and PS3. These other versions are most likely getting the lion's share of attention from developers while the old PS2 version is just kind of hanging out waiting for the end to come. So without getting all the love from home does it stand proud or does it whimper into a corner? One way to find out is to just keep on reading...
I've been playing a lot of the next generation games lately and with the exception of some Guitar Hero II this is my first "last generation" game in a long time. Not that there's anything wrong with last gen; heck I had a lot of good times with them. But we all most move on at some point in our lives. One thing I was pretty sure of was that graphically NBA 08 wouldn't be able to impress me but it didn't do too bad of a job. The crowd looks terrible, to be sure, but the players and arenas are fairly nice looking. What is not so good are the animations and frame rate; this is not a very smooth running game. Players seem to move up and down the court erratically and the way shots bounce off the backboard breaks a few laws of physics I'm sure. But graphics are not hugely important in basketball, nice sure, but great control, team AI, and fun can easily overcome sub par graphics. Therefore it's a disappointment that NBA 08 falls short on two of these and is only adequate on the last.
Let's start with the bad news first and work up to the best part of NBA 08. Rings are a big part of the game and I'm not talking about the championship kind. The rings here are shooting rings that change colors depending on your chances to make the shot. Much like a traffic light red is bad, yellow is questionable, and green means go for it. It's interesting but I prefer the more timing based, release at the top of your jump style of control. This way isn't broken but it's just a tad distracting. The other players on the team don't tend to pay attention some times. For example I turned the ball over way too many times because a teammate I passed the ball to had one of his feet out of bounds. I liked the announcers which is somewhat surprising in sport games nowadays.
There are four basic game types: Single Game, The Life, League, and Online. Single Game is where you go to play a quick exhibition game or try out the mini-games. Mini-games include Training Camp where you practice solo or with your teammates, Playground is a series of contests to work on your skills, Drills to improve your overall court performance, and All-Star Play includes the 3 point contest. The League is where you want to be to play through a season or say the heck with that and go straight to the playoffs. Online is self-explanatory which leads us to The Life which deserves its own paragraph.
The meat of NBA 08 is The Life story. As the title would strongly suggest this is the third volume in The Life. The Life is a mode where you step into the rather large shoes of an NBA player and do what almost amounts to a little light RPG-ing. It's like a drama mixed in with your basketball game and I have to say there is something wrong with a basketball game where basketball isn't the best part. You play the role of Youngblood as rookie point guard coming to a team that is in a bit of .flux. Coach T., who reminds me a lot of Pat Riley, has just announced his retirement and one of the cornerstones of the team has been traded. It's a bit like a soap opera. I kind of liked the way this adds something to the game although I do wish that the actual basketball part was a lot stronger.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 72%. The main reason to play NBA 08: The Life v3 is not to play a basketball game but to get involved with The Life. If you're wanting a good "basketball" game there are better options.