NBA Live 09: All-Play Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii
NBA Live 09: All-Play box art
System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP Review Rating Legend
Dev: EA Canda 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: EA 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 7, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Basketball may very well be second only to football in terms of the most popular sport in North America. It’s fast-paced, high-scoring, and certainly a very exciting sport. When it comes to the video game, however, I get the feeling that developer EA Canada may have missed the mark with NBA Live 09: All-Play for the Wii. It’s not a complete disaster and is a bit of a step up from last year’s NBA Live for the Wii, but it’s still a good idea to keep your distance.

NBA Live 09: All-Play screenshot

I’ve had the opportunity to play and review a number of sports titles for the Wii, and I find that the genre, at least for this system, is really a mixed bag. On the one hand, you’ve got standout titles like PGA Tour 09 that features awesome control, a wide variety of modes, thoroughly satisfying gameplay, and robust online play. On the other, you’ve got games like NHL 2K9, which features some good ideas plagued by technical issues and shoddy execution. Sadly, NBA Live 09: All-Play falls into the latter category of sports games.

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NBA Live 09: All-Play has a decent number of modes, but it’s lacking the one that would be most interesting: a career mode. There are some party modes to the game, which contribute to the casual-oriented All Play approach that’s being taken this year. There’s also multiplayer and a new 2-on-2 mode that fails to stand out much at all. There are a variety of ways to play NBA Live 09, but the lack of a create-a-player mode or a career mode takes away a lot of potential depth from this game.

NBA Live 09: All-Play screenshot

The biggest issue that NBA Live 09 suffers from is a lack of balance on the court; this game just does not feel realistic at all. Scores get far higher than they should, and playing good defense is essentially impossible. Players feel overpowered, and if you happen to have a star on your team, you’ll probably score every possession.

This over-scoring isn’t just the purview of the player. The A.I. takes advantage of the same scoring techniques that you will. As a result, NBA Live 09: All-Play manages to be a completely boring game. Using the same few button inputs over and over and over again, you can ensure that you’ll score on 95% of your drives. And because the A.I. will do the exact same thing, every game is just back-and-forth, with no real breakaways and absolutely no strategy involved. It’s an incredibly shallow experience; basketball is such a strategy-based sport, yet NBA Live 09 completely circumvents that aspect of the game.

NBA Live 09: All-Play screenshot

While defense is just about non-existent in this game of basketball, offense has a huge presence. Big-name players can drive to the hoop and score with good consistency. When that doesn’t work, just mash A and B to pull off an alley-oop -- its success rate is even higher. There’s nothing that you or the A.I. can do to stop these plays, and, as a result, games just become a waiting game to see who makes the first mistake. Even reading your opponent’s plays is completely unimportant, because there’s nothing that you’re really able to do to stop them anyway.

Screenshots / Images
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