EA Sports still in the game?
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When EA Sports pledged full support for the Wii, I was quite exultant. The thought of the wii-mote being utilized in various sports seemed promising, as they inch closer to the real life games. However, some efforts are not taking advantage of the wide range of opportunities on the wii, and NBA Live 08 to my disappointment is one of those games. While the controls are all implemented nicely, the depth of the game just seems too shallow.
Graphically, the game's player models and backgrounds are more smooth and concise than the Gamecube, but like always, do not stack up against the 360s or PS3s. Commentary is once again done by Marv Albert and Steve Kerr, who give a concise and coherent play by play, and incorporated a copious amount of dialog into the game. As well as the usual commentary, EA Sports featured many tracks such as Timbaland, The Hives and even Will Smith's sidekick DJ Jazzy Jeff.
Once on the court, players have access to numerous motion sensor controls. Shooting is completed through the lifting of the Wii-mote and flicking it forward. This allows players to time the shot and choose when best to release in mid-air, a feature that can be at times useful. Dribbling is done with the analog stick, but crossover moves can be performed by the turning the nunchuck. When driving in for a basket, layups and finger rolls are done by swaying the Wii-mote horizontally. Players should be wary in the game, as you may find yourself shooting from half court.
In addition to the basic actions, star players can perform their "go-to moves" by executing certain motions on the Wii-mote. These include Vince Carter's flamboyant windmill slam, and Arenas' game winning step-back jumper. It is totally ignorant of teamwork and camaraderies of the player, but in this day and age players only seem to care for their salary.
While the controls add an extra layer to the gameplay, some seem to be more spiteful than aiding in the game. For instance, while driving in for a basket, you may find yourself missing the shot after doing erratic reverse motions, instead of the basic dunk. Other instances even include shooting on the opposite of the basket. This may seem normal for a negligible player like Kwame Brown, but more eminent players shooting from the wrong side is inane. If that was not enough, free throws are so random, that may find yourself shooting a worse percentage than Shaq.
However, the controls are not the feature that drag down NBA Live's reputation. The game play modes are. If you are looking for an intricate, well rounded basketball experience, you will not find it here. The game includes a mere season, playoff and all-star weekend mode. Franchise mode, create a player, 1vs1, as well as the entire ESPN integration were curtailed from this version of the EA Sports title. EA had a perfect opportunity to utilize Wiiconnect24, by sending a sports ticker and news through the ESPN website, but this was never considered, and thus left out of the game.
One feature however, is exclusive to the wii. Super Star Showdown (all alliteration aside) reenacts many elite performances last season, such as the time Arenas sunk 60 points on the Lakers. The mode puts you right near the conclusion of the game, meaning the super star will have to score points in a very minuscule epoch.
If your indignation has reached its maximum against my views, I will give one more reason that prevents it from being the solid title it has been in the past. Complete lack of strategy. There is no option to alter or modify the type of offense or defense you send out, as well as no types of inbound plays or press breaking plays. Unlike Madden 08, which gives you multifarious options of shifting and audibles, NBA Live provides only the basic options of man and zone, or isolation and setting picks. You cannot change to a 3-2 zone, or decide to run a Princeton type offense, which considerably downgrades the title to an arcade game with the most gunning of the ball wins.
Playing NBA Live 08 is similar to catching one of Gilbert Arenas' jettisoned jerseys. It's real and authentic, but is gnarly and covered in sweat, so you get what you pay for. Next time they dribble down the court, EA Sports must make sure ALL FEATURES are included if they want to have influence on the everlasting success of the Wii console. Until then, NBA Live 08 is an experience that is enjoyable, but just way too thin.
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