NBA Live 09 (360)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Graphics: 7.50
Sound: 7.00
Gameplay: 8.00
Replays: 8.50
Gamelength: 8.00

EA Sports latest basketball title, “NBA Live 09” has hit store shelves and while it’s a good game, it’s not without flaws.

The “NBA Live” series has always been a direct competitor of the “NBA 2kX” series since it’s conception late in the sports game war. Basketball fans tend to prefer “NBA 2kX” over “NBA Live” and really, it’s not really a surprise. Still, the “NBA Live” series really is as close to competition as it gets and as far as I’m concerned, it’s still a really great game. From the “Dynamic DNA” team roster to the smooth visuals, this game has everything most basketball fans would ever want out of a video game. Put on your jersey, take a seat and watch the game as I dribble my way around “NBA Live 09” for the Xbox 360.

First of all, the graphics are by far not groundbreaking here. Keeping that in mind, they’re a sure-set improvement above previous iterations. For the most part, the game looks very realistic. The only real complaint I have about the graphics is that the audience looks absolutely ridiculous. There’s a set of 5-6 audience models that are used to fill every taken seat and they have absolutely terrible animations. The rest of the animations are fine and the game has a stable 60+ framerate. Serious graphics fanatics, you might want to look elsewhere, but sports fans have no reason to turn away. The game looks great.

Music is non-existent during matches, but in the gym and the pre-game menus, a decent set of hip hop and rap music pumps through the speakers. Aside from that, the only real thing worth mentioning here is the commentary. The announcers do a wonderful job and it’s so realistic that it’s sure to make you feel as though you’re watching a real basketball game. The best part: They’re not overly repetitious like most sports game announcers. Everything else sounds pretty standard, however, ranging from the squeak of the shoes rubbing the floor to the audience chants.

Any sports fan knows that it all boils down to the gameplay, so it’s time to answer the question everyone’s asking: Is this game better than last year’s iteration? In a word, yes. To elaborate, the only really huge change is the Dynamic DNA, but that alone can be as big of a thing as you make it. Dynamic DNA allows instantaneous updates of live team rosters, which even goes right down to the hot players, giving them a serious edge in the game and nerfing the players who aren’t doing well at all. Because of that feature, “NBA Live 09” feels more accurate than it ever has been, which goes a long way to improve the series for those who may be interested in that feature. On the flipside, however, those who don’t particularly care about Dynamic DNA really don’t have anything new to look forward to this year. All of the old modes make a return, including NBA Live Academy, NBA All-Star Weekend, Quick Play, Dynasty Mode and FIBA World Championships. The latest addition to the mode selection is Be a Pro mode, which has been featured in other EA 2009 sports titles. Of course, Xbox Live play is also included, which is generally lag-free and will continue to hold the interest of any fan until the next iteration of the series is released some time next year. The controls are very tight and extremely simple to master, although the AI is smart enough to make the game feel harder than it should be at times. Speaking of AI, all of your current favorite teams and players are included and fully playable, which means that some of your opponents are extremely difficult, thanks to the new Dynamic DNA feature. Even on the easiest difficulty setting in a Quick Play match isn’t all that easy when you’re facing off against a really hot player. Still, regardless of the immense difficulty and the “re release” feeling of the game as a whole, it’s not a bad game at all. I still wouldn’t recommend this over the 2k series, but hey, try them both out. Maybe you’ll fall in love with Live this year!

Overall, “NBA Live 09” hasn’t done much this iteration to improve the series and because of that, it trails behind much farther this year by comparison to the 2k series.

-Smooth, next-gen graphics.
-100% accurate team rosters thanks to Dynamic DNA.
-Simple and tight controls.
-Lagless Xbox Live multiplayer.
-Announcers sound almost too real.
-Nice soundtrack when music is actually playing.

-Feels more like a re release with expanded content.
-Far too difficult at times.
-Be A Pro mode is pointless.

Bottom Line:
Loyal fans of the “NBA Live” series wont even have to think twice about buying this game, but anyone else should definitely rent it first. The demo doesn’t do this game justice, so be sure to play the full version somehow before you make your choice.

Overall Rating: 7.75

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