NBA Live 08

Reviewed by Cliff Bakehorn, Posted on 2007-11-03


Developer: EA Canada Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: October 2, 2007 Also On: PC, PS3 & Xbox 360

In the league of EA Sports, some awards could be given out. This year most would consider Madden NFL 08 the MVP; Madden's return to glory has finally come on next-generation systems. If this is the case, NBA Live 08 should claim Most Improved Player. Realizing it had fallen flat in its previous direction, EA Canada made a basketball game that that I would promote from towel boy to sixth man.

NBA Live's meat-and-potatoes options were added to the next-generation games last year, but they were brought to their senses this year. Dynasty mode again tries to be deeper than it has ever been, with extensive scouting, managing, and coaching options that make planning for each week a task than can be as detailed or automated as you see fit. Another interesting addition to the game is the FIBA Tournament, where you can play the United States against different national countries that include some of the NBA's best talent. The All-Star Weekend mode returns as well.

Actually playing NBA Live 08 is a lot more fun than it was last season. The overall feel of the game is improved, giving the commercial some credibility with its "How does it feel?" mantra. The players feel more like they do in the NBA 2K series, but the game doesn't feel like a carbon copy by any means. I felt like the rebounding system was improved quite a lot, and my fantasy dynasty star Dirk Nowitzki pulled down rebounds like no other as long as I got him down inside. Players still don't react very well to swatted or loose balls, thought... this is as annoying as it has always been, and I really wish EA Canada would fix this annoying flaw.

Shooting is a lot easier than it has ever been, but not because of the actual button timing. If you hold the left bumper on offense, a grid highlighting your offensive area will appear. There are certain areas where each player is more accurate; these spots are highlighted in red. Cold spots, then, are blue while neutral areas are yellow. Using these areas is vital in setting up plays with the simple and decently effective play calling system, but it is also helpful for players who just like to pop out and shoot a three-pointer. Free throws are also a lot simpler, to the point of being a chip-in like they used to be. Playing down in the paint and near the basket is also simple, but there are too many forced animations. When you pump fake down low, for example, the defender will very often choke on the fake and your player will stagger around trying to pump fake a few more times rather than take the open shot. Still, the gameplay in the paint isn't broken like it was a few years ago.

NBA Live 08 also looks a lot better than it ever has. The players actually look like they are decently recreated on the screen without plastic and wax, and the arenas are lively and well-lit. Overall the entire game runs at a better pace and doesn't look as jumpy as it has in previous years. The commentary is still a little dry but it is informative and interesting for a short time; you'll definitely pay attention to the different background stories of players for the first or second time. Unfortunately the commentary, as always, gets very stale after a short time.

NBA Live 08 doesn't improve on much else, so I chose not to mention a lot of returning features like the connections to ESPN (although they are STILL underused in-game) and the standard Live play. Still, it makes strides in its gameplay and as a result is a lot more fun to play. If you were impatient with NBA Live last season, it might be wise to skip it for another year—NBA Live 09 could pull it all together, but then again, I hoped the same for NBA Live 08.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 6.5
Final: 7.4
Written by Cliff Review Guide

Reviewed by Cliff Bakehorn