I’ve reviewed the last three years worth of NBA Live games on PC for this site, and I’ve come to a sad conclusion: EA Sports just doesn’t care anymore. It’s that simple. While there are a few niceties in Live 08, it’s mostly the same game as NBA Live 05, which was ok back in 2004. Heading into 2008, this just doesn’t cut it anymore. Simple as can be, EA’s attention is firmly on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 market now, and PC gamers are less then second rate. Why ‘less then’? Because EA Sports has at least made improvements to the Wii version.
Some things are improved. The court textures are slightly nicer, but still very bland. I appreciate the inclusion of wide-screen resolutions, even though you end up with squat looking players as a result. I still feel that an anti-aliasing option would go a long way to improving this old engine’s look. The uniforms and player faces – aside from a few new uniforms this year – are untouched from Live 07, or Live 06, for that matter. You do get the option to put the scoreboard either at the top or bottom of the screen, though (big deal).
The stadiums seem more believable this year, but maybe that’s because the default camera angle is so far removed from the action that you see allot of it and can’t ignore it. The animations haven’t changed an iota, either. The players still dunk through the backboard, the ball still floats around, and there are still a ton of instances where players will ‘jump’ to the spot the animation requires without any sort of transition animation. It’s really hard to maintain any sort of suspension of disbelief with all of this going on.
Not content with being as bad as last year, Live 08 may actually be worse. A few choice glitches include not being able to move off of the side of the paint for a rebound on a free throw until the ball hits the rim, while the computer has no such restrictions, the removal of player-lock, clear out-of-bounds violations that aren’t called, the fact that the new dribble moves are non-existent, the ‘signature shot’ implementation being crappy, and way more AI gaffes then last year. The AI still falls for charges way too often and will repeatedly walk right out of bounds. Seriously, didn’t anyone beta test this thing? Oh, that’s right – that’s what we’re paying $50 for: we’re the beta testers.
I can hardly describe how frustrated I am with this game, while still maintaining the family-friendly atmosphere of this site. Does the game do anything right? Well, the Dunk Contest is slightly easier in that the missed-dunk animations are shorter, allowing you to try again quickly rather then watching a 5 second animation choke your time limit on you. There’s also the FIBA feature, which is neat but ultimately unsatisfying. In the end, Live 08 is even worse then last year, and there seems to be no indication that EA Sports gives a damn. Avoid this at all costs. Alphasim out.