The NBA Live series is one that has a history of innovation followed by stagnation. Going from Live 97 to 98 was big, and then it floundered for a few years. Live 2003 and 2004 were very similar to one another and now we’re experiencing Live 2005 for the third year. This may be a product of the game being made for the current systems (First the PSX and Saturn, then the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube). After all, there’s only so much one can do with that hardware. It also could theoretically save effort that could be expended on gameplay and features. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Live’s formula is getting old, much more so then the other sports’ in EA’s lineup.
Step one is that the graphics don’t look like they’ve even been touched since last year. The only new graphical touches lie in the frontend menu, which – with it’s videos and clean look – is stylish.
The sound seems to be improved. The play-by-play is better, with longer discussions and more player-specific dialog. Marv Albert and Steve Kerr (the announcers) will even call created players and dynasty rookies by their last names – provided they fit into a pre-recorded list. Bluntly put, if an NBA player has your last name, it’ll be said. There are a few others beyond that, but it’s more or less that simple. By the way, I still hate EA Sports’ music system, what with the song’s name and artist being shown with each track. It covers up the screen and menus and, more importantly, I just don’t care about the information.
The All-Star game festivities are the same as always. The Dunk Contest does seem to be tweaked somewhat, though. You have to be much more careful about alley-oop passes then in the past as they can be tossed straight out of bounds or towards nothing instead off the backboard/shotclock/etc much easier then in years past. The biggest miscue was the replacing of Kenny Smith with Greg Anthony. He just doesn’t have the same charisma and comes off very flat.
The Dynasty mode touts player relationships and moods, but they seemed poorly instituted to me. They play a very minor role, which is good, since they’re a pain in the ass to micromanage. Read my The Movies (PC) review to hear my thoughts on micromanagement.
The worst part of Live 07 is that the game is buggy as hell. It’s overpowered at the point guard spot, the Inside Scorer moves are hard to pull off, the freestyle moves don’t always work, the Direct Pass icons are mislabeled, it won’t remember your camera settings, chugs poorly with rampant stuttering on a system well past it’s specs, and simply doesn’t control worth a darn. If there’s one game on this site so far that I’d have to say, ‘Don’t Bother,’ this would probably be it. I am very disappointed in Live 07. I even preordered the dumb thing in great anticipation of it being an improvement in some way over Live 06. What I got was a game that’s actually gotten worse since last year. Don’t make the same mistake.