NBA Live 08 Review
I enjoyed playing Sony's NBA '08 for the PSP simply because it was packed with so many game modes. When it came to the basketball action on the court, though, the game just plain came up short. Well if you can do without as many mini games and can tear yourself away from NBA Ď08's Conquest mode, then you should definitely give NBA Live 08 a try because it delivers much better action on the court ... and it's not without some of its own interesting features.
The on-court action is pretty good for a portable. Shots are timing-based, which while welcome is odd since the next-gen console versions of the game take timing out of the equation and base everything on percentages. It's fairly easy to work the ball inside (and have it driven to the hoop against you) so you'll have games that are a little dunk-heavy. It doesn't mirror real-world NBA play but it's entertaining enough when playing a portable videogame. Special moves have been tied to the square button due to the PSP's inexplicable lack of a second stick. It takes a little getting used to if you usually play NBA games at home on a console, but it works well enough. Overall the game plays well enough to be fun as long as you prefer Phoenix Suns style basketball over that of the Detroit Pistons.
As play your way through a few games you'll notice that there are some pretty cool new features in NBA Live 08. The first is that the game tracks all of your stats across every game you play; not individual player performances, but your cumulative totals in several categories including points, shooting percentage, and the like. After each game you'll also be able to see which stats improved after that game and which headed in the wrong direction.
Another new feature is called The Crown. This is basically an achievement system that awards you points for in-game accomplishments such as hitting a certain number of threes. The achievements are not just tied to regular games; you'll need to accomplish challenges related to other modes such as the game's dynasty mode. As you complete the accomplishments you'll reach higher achievement levels and earn jewels to place in your crown. You'll also unlock game situation types of challenges modeled on NBA games from the prior season. You'll have the chance to see if you can recreate some of last year's top on-court performances and if you succeed you'll be awarded with unlockables such as retro jerseys. I admit that I do love the Xbox 360's achievement system and having the opportunity to shoot for gaming goals on the PSP as well is a pretty cool feature in my book.
Those of you paying attention out there probably noticed that I mentioned a dynasty mode in the last paragraph. No, I did not cut and paste part of this review from one written for a console version of the game. NBA Live 08 not only features a dynasty mode, it's a pretty impressive one for a portable sports game. EA Sports did not just include an NBA schedule in the game and call it a dynasty mode. You'll need to do things like hire coaches and participate in the NBA draft. Of course this may all mean that there's too much micromanagement for those looking for something simple while on the go, but it's impressive to see a PSP version of a sports game come with a full-featured dynasty mode.
The game also includes some mini games, but not nearly as many as Sony's NBA game. Most are your standard slam dunk contest and the like, but there is also a DDR-style game in which you turn the PSP sideways and mimic the on-screen arrow and button presses to make an NBA star do some fancy dribbling. It's an interesting enough diversion, but it won't tear you away from the actual basketball for long.
Overall NBA Live 08 is a pretty enjoyable game and has the advantage over Sony's game in that it actually plays a decent game of basketball on the court. If you want some NBA action on the go, it's an excellent choice.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 82%. Itís not a slam dunk, but NBA Live 08 certainly takes it to the hoop.