Reviewed: October 22, 2008
Released: October 7, 2008
The action is set to tip off at center court, as EA Sports brings another of its sports titans to the table this basketball season. The NBA Live series has been a prominent front-runner in the sports gaming series since the Super Nintendo. EA seems to come up with new ways to continue to drive strong to the hoop and deliver a slam-dunk! This yearNBA Live 09 is no exception to that rule.
NBA Live 09 not only offers the typical basketball gaming experience, but they have added the FIBA World Championships to the mix as well. In the FIBA Championships you can control any of 24 nation teams to determine who the best basketball team in the world may be. EA has also joined in with automatic roster updates and added a new DNA system to make your gaming experience as close to the real thing as possible.
NBA Live offers all the current NBA teams and up to date rosters as well as 24 national FIBA teams, the All-NBA team, the Adidas team, the Rookie All-Stars, the Sophmore All-Stars, the Euro-All Stars, and the East and West All-Stars from the 2008 season. Each team boasts its own customized home court and customizable offensive playbooks as well as a robust defensive playbook selection.
EA continues to add new exciting game play features each season to recreate itself as a sports gaming leader. This season is no different. EA has added the NBA Live 365 update feature along side the new DNA features to ensure that you are not only playing with the most current NBA rosters, but also that those rosters are playing as close to real life as possible.
The Live 365 updates occur each day when you log in and will make certain that your roster matches the most current trades and signings in the NBA today. The DNA feature changes daily to reflect the teams and players most recent performances. For example if LeBron James scores 50 points and pulls down a triple double his DNA will increase so that he will perform at an even higher level than a player that has averaged only 4 points a game for the last week. Each team also has a DNA bar that moves depending on their play style, so that you can best emulate the same offensive and defensive philosophies being used by the pros.
Game modes include the typical exhibition, season, and dynasty modes as well as the new FIBA World Championships, NBA Live Academy, and Be A Pro modes. The NBA Live Academy is your key to unlocking the secrets of the game. You can use the Academy to perfect your fast breaks, work on free throw shooting, or practice your offense. The Be A Pro mode puts you in the player’s everyday shoes as you practice and play each day as if you were an NBA superstar yourself. Also the Live experience offers the All-Star Weekend including the dunk contest, 3-point shootout, and All-Star games.
Online NBA Live 09 is no slouch. Allowing up to 10 players to play simultaneously as well as offering leagues and the normal versus mode. The 5-on-5 cooperative is a huge step in online gaming that allows each person to control one player throughout the entire game, and really pushes the realism to the next level, forcing players to work on teamwork and proper play execution to secure a victory. Games can be set up with friends or you can join a game and play with people from around the globe.
Visually NBA Live has been a front-runner for years always pushing the limits of what the system can achieve graphically. Again, NBA Live delivers a dagger, from sweat accumulating on a players face and body to detailed facial expressions representing the players’ current mood. Each arena is built piece by piece to make an almost identical virtual replica of its true NBA alter ego. Details from seating arrangements to scoreboards, court logos to scoring tables, everything is made to make it feel like you are really in the game. Sports games in general are usually some of the best looking games, and EA Sports has again pushed the envelope with its massively detailed engine on Live 09.
Live 09 doesn’t stop there with its realistic “in the game” feel. Crowd sounds, squeaking sneakers, and adamant announcing fill the stadium with ambient surround sound. The explosion of the crowd after a buzzer beater will fill the room with hair-raising excitement, just the same as the “boos” will send any player into depression when their team is playing poorly. EA makes the all around experience very engulfing and fully utilizes great sound to immerse the player in the game at hand. How can you not get excited when your team is down by 2 with under 30 seconds to play and you drive for the tying score. As you throw down a thunder dunk with Shaq and the crowd erupts, any sports fan will get chills.
NBA Live’s $50 price tag may look like too much for some shoppers, but for the diehard NBA fan it is just a drop in the bucket for a great basketball game. With up to the minute updates and jaw-dropping visuals any hoops fan will get their money’s worth. The Xbox Live experience that NBA Live brings is 2nd to none and is worth the price alone. Add in the Be A Pro modes replay ability and you have yourself a game to play for the rest of the year.
As for the heads up matchup with the 2K Sports series, NBA Live sinks the buzzer beater as time expires to steal the win this season. Live’s play mechanics and in-depth gameplay features surpass the competition in the heated battle for hoops supremacy in ’09. Without much debate Live ‘09 delivers the best all around NBA game this year.