NBA Live 08 Review
Xbox 360 | PS3
NBA Live 08 box art
System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PC, PSP Review Rating Legend
Dev: EA Canada 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. 2, 2007 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
Live '08 Looking to Rebound After a Big Time Brick

by Tom Kelly

In the aftermath of last year's disastrous NBA Live 07, a game that was so bad the PS3 version was cancelled, it seemed high time for EA to reinvent the series that once defined console hoops. So the question remains, can Agent Zero save the day? The short answer no, but what 08 is able to do far exceeds last year's installment, and shows glimpses of all-star caliber talent for the future.

NBA Live 08 screenshot

For this particular review, we are going to try something different. Year after year sports games come out, and for the most part only little things change. Although this is more of a total reboot for a struggling franchise, it is still just a number in a long line of titles. Therefore, I am going to break this down into three categories: the good (areas where the developers really nailed it), the so-so (areas where improvement would make it just that much better), and the bad (areas where the game is severely lacking). Thus without further ado…

Advertisement

Despite the fact that I already stated above that this would not be the version of Live to bring EA back to the basketball top, there are a lot of aspects to the title which worked nicely. The presentation as a whole was fabulous and the announcers are spot on; you really cannot do much better than Marv Albert and Steve Kerr. The intros before the games, the flash of All-Star weekend, replays, the sounds of the crowd, it all feels right. All-Star weekend, gameplay aside, in particular gives off the perfect basketball game vibe. As an added bonus, Ernie Johnson and Greg Anthony take over the mic for the festivities. It is true that a game probably can never truly mimic actually being there, but Live 08 does a great job of trying.

NBA Live 08 screenshot

Once you step onto the court the positives continue, but this will also lead into the other categories. As I mentioned, the announcers are great, and graphically this is a very impressive title. The mesh jerseys, player models, faces, and the lights gleaming off the court. Gameplay wise, playing in the post is fluid, and even Chris Kaman is able to execute effortlessly at the appropriate times. Players can also guide their player defensively by moving the right thumbstick in different directions. The addition of the F.I.B.A World Championships is nice to see, although I don't think anybody will ever play with anybody except the Americans, but you never know.

Here is where the water starts to get a little deeper as the gameplay is more on the level of Rod Strickland rather than Gilbert Arena. We'll jump off with the A.I., which is not quite as bright as you would hope from a next generation game. They really don't move without the ball all that often, and there are numerous times just staring at a loose ball firmly entrenched in one place is were you will find them. Passing is also troublesome; they either lob the ball too slow or hurl it directly at the other team. Fast breaks can be quite a headache when you find it either impossible to deliver a good headman pass or for some inexplicable reason the guy throws it back to you. In addition to the passing conundrum, driving seems a little jerky and the Quickstrike Ballhandling brings nothing new to the table. The controls feel stiff a tad too often, and free throw shooting looks robotic. Just remember this is not the negatives; these are just things that with a little more improvement, title contention may not be too far in the future.

NBA Live 08 screenshot

Negatives. Despite the better efforts of the presentation, All-Star weekend stinks. The slam-dunk contest is just horrible, not even worth playing. It is more frustrating than anything else, yet the three-point contest slightly makes up for it by being mildly entertaining. A main flaw comes in the ESPN integration, which is still almost nonexistent. When are they going to make the most of that partnership? This may seem like a strange negative, but the Dynasty mode could really be a lot better. After games like Madden and NCAA 08, you just expect more out of EA Sports titles. It is just not nearly as deep as I had hoped. Lastly, and maybe you could lump this in with the problem playing off the dribble, the court just seemed small. It was too hard to get inside. It felt like everyone was right by each other.

Focusing on next year, NBA Live 08 has set up a solid foundation for the developers to progress on. Rabid EA Sports fans will find a lot to like, but may better be served by letting this title dwell in the developmental leagues. It is not quite ready for the big time, but at least it is not the Sam Bowie of video games like Live 07.

By Tom Kelly
CCC Freelance Writer

Features:

  • All-New Quickstrike Ballhandling-Whether you're pushing the ball upcourt or backing down a defender inside, quicker, more responsive ball-handling moves allow you to break down opponents and take complete control of your game with the right analog stick.
  • Own the Paint-Put the ball in the hands of your big men and go head-to-head in the lane. With all-new moves and counters, including pump fakes, drop-steps, and spins, post play has never been better.
  • See Who's Hot and Who's Not-Using actual NBA shot tracking data, know who to feed and who to defend based on a shooter's Hot Spots, an all-new on-screen overlay showing you exactly where a player is most dangerous.
  • Dominate with Your Go-To Move-Every player has a go-to move that they consistently go to when the game is on the line. Now the signature go-to moves of the NBA's best players have been realistically re-created to help you score when it counts. That patented step back jumper? A fadeaway with the big leg kick? If it's in the game, it's in the game.
  • A New Look and Feel-5-on-5 gameplay has never looked so good. Featuring enhanced player spacing and behavior logic in the half-court, upgraded passing and rebounding mechanics, and an all-new two-player interaction engine.
  • All-New Shooting Mechanics-From deep three-point shots well beyond the arc to 10-foot jumps shots in the paint, every shot attempt has been redesigned to provide more fluid, realistic results. Dunks and lay-ups are now assigned to the same button command making highlight reel plays even easier to perform.
  • The NBA Goes Live-Player faces, team uniforms, and authentic arenas jump to life behind the power of next-generation game graphics. Whether you're working on your game in the revamped practice gym or playing in front of a packed house, feel what it's like to be an NBA superstar.
  • Like Butter - Running at a smooth 60 frames per second, NBA Live 08 is as close as you can get to the court, without dropping a dime for courtside seats.


  • Rating out of 5
    Rating Description

    4.3

    Graphics
    The court really shines, all the finer details are present.

    3.3

    Control
    A little jerky at times could use a few tweaks here and there.

    4.7

    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    Marv Albert, that's all I've got to say.

    4.0

    Play Value
    Decent set of options, online leagues are finally added to the mix.

    3.5

    Overall Rating - Good
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

    Screenshots / Images
    NBA Live 08 screenshot - click to enlarge NBA Live 08 screenshot - click to enlarge NBA Live 08 screenshot - click to enlarge NBA Live 08 screenshot - click to enlarge NBA Live 08 screenshot - click to enlarge NBA Live 08 screenshot - click to enlarge NBA Live 08 screenshot - click to enlarge NBA Live 08 screenshot - click to enlarge

    X
    "Like" CheatCC on Facebook