NBA Live 08 Review

It’s no surprise that NBA Live 08 is a big improvement from last year’s version, because quite frankly, it would be nigh-impossible not to be. What is a surprise, however, is just how much of an improvement NBA Live 08 is. With last year’s abomination, it looked like 2K would officially take the title of Best Basketball Game and run away with it. This year’s game takes steps to prevent that, and even contends in several areas.

The best news is that there aren’t nearly as many bugs, and I didn’t notice anything gamebreaking. If you hated Live 07 because of all the little things, all of the little things are working and done right again (for the most part) in Live 08.

One thing that’s been really improved is the defense. With the hold of a trigger button, you play tight man to man coverage, and the computer handles a lot of the little things like shifting weight and guarding the offensive player’s strong side. For people who want complete 100% control over their player this may not be great news, but for most gamers it works wonders. Especially since it makes the game just look and feel more like NBA basketball; no more 20 steal nights for Mike Bibby.


When Gilbert Arenas isn't cheating in Halo 3, he's playing basketball
When he’s not "cheating" in Halo 3, Gilbert Arenas plays basketball


If NBA Live 08 stresses one thing, it’s just ensuring that the game plays well. There aren’t a lot of amazing new features like other sports games hype. Instead, the developers went back to the core elements of NBA basketball and made sure their game lived up to those expectations.

On offense, it really is a team game, and players have their own signature styles and moves. For people like Kevin Martin this may piss you off (try shooting with him… It’s just annoying!) but for the most part it adds to the spectacular presentation.

Much like last year, NBA 2K8 wins in the pure gameplay department. Where NBA Live 08 shines is in the presentation and authentic feel. NBA 2K8 plays like a good basketball game, but NBA Live 08 plays like a good NBA game. The announcers are MUCH better than 2K8 (Steve Kerr rules), the replays look better, the player models look more realistic, and the little touches like shooting forms, dribbling, player animations and more add up to a very real-feeling NBA experience.

There are some issues which still keep it from being a great title, though. For starters, the computer still makes a lot of stupid mistakes, and the team AI needs some work. It’s very common to be shooting on the block and go up behind the backboard with a jumpshot, or to have the computer pass it to someone when their foot is on the sideline. Nothing too game breaking, but the little things add up enough to bring you back down to earth. Just when you thought the miraculous happened and NBA Live reclaimed its thrown as Best Basketball Game, Tim Duncan gets called for an offensive foul shooting a jumpshot.

The other things in the game are more hit and miss than the gameplay itself. For starters, the dynasty mode isn’t much more than an extended season. The inclusion of the FIBA teams is a nice touch, but really, a game focusing on NBA basketball can’t quite capture the feel of international play; dare I say it’s time for an international basketball game?


Tony Parker: luckiest man alive?
"Raise your hand if you have it all."


My biggest gripe with the game is the incredible load times. While there’s a nice trivia game to kill time, getting to the point where you see the same question for the third time before a game starts up is just frustrating. I’ve heard people saying it’s due to defective discs, fixed with the cache being cleared, or just random whether or not the game loads fast or slow. At this point I’m not entirely sure what causes the issue, but hopefully it gets addressed officially by EA. Until then, consider it a possible issue you may or may not face.

NBA Live 08 is easily a gigantic step forward from Live 07. The game has far fewer bugs, the gameplay is much more solid, and the NBA-styled presentation is in full effect. There are three NBA games to choose from this year (two if you don’t own a PS3). Get NBA 08 if you want the best NBA presentation but poor gameplay; get NBA 2k8 if you want the best core gameplay and worst NBA presentation; and get NBA Live 08 if you want both solid gameplay and an authentic NBA feeling.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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