NBA Live 08 Review
NBA Live 08 finally brings EA's basketball franchise fully into next-gen after serving up some not quite so ready for primetime players. No longer are we in another "rebuilding year"; this is definitely a franchise on the move. However, there are still some holes in the lineup that keep it from being a championship caliber franchise.
I'm going to start with the action on the court, because all the features in the world don't make a difference if the gameplay doesn't cut it. On the positive side the controls are nice and tight, giving your players plenty of moves when dribbling the ball or driving to the basket. Fast breaks work pretty well even though there is a tendency for players to catch the ball and stop when you're trying to push things up court quickly. There's a new hot/cold zone feature that you can bring up with the left bumper. It will overlay the court with red and blue zones to let you know where the current player's best spots on the floor for shots are located. Those who prefer an arcade-style game may not like the fact that there's some number crunching going on in the background, but it's a nice feature for those who haven't memorized the shot tendencies for each NBA player.
On the downside there is a very frustrating tendency in the game for players to miss easy shots under the basket. There are way too many missed lay-ups, especially the uncontested ones. Making matters worse, the AI doesn't have this issue. It's frustrating, to say the least, when you're trading baskets with the computer in a fast-paced game and half of your shots miss while it nails all of its shots. Defense is also a bit suspect and your teammates have a problem with leaving wide open lanes to the basket and then refusing to close them off when an opposing player is making a beeline for the basket. You can use a button to keep your man on his assigned player, but this feature seems more like a fix for the other defensive issues than a cool feature on its own. Free throws are taken using the right stick - draw it back to bring the ball up and back and then push it forward to shoot. In theory it's a cool system, but it's too unforgiving on your timing which will lead to more misses from the stripe than you'd like to see. If EA can fix these issues and smooth out the fast breaks, then NBA Live 09 will be a pretty exciting game. As it stands with Live 08, things are still pretty exciting but the frustrating aspects of play definitely dig into your enjoyment of the game.