Oct 10, 2007
The Life goes out not with a bang, but a whimper. Sadly, too, as we've come to grow fond of Sony's unique twist on the ever-so-predictable world of NBA games. Sure, other titles may have had slicker gameplay and sharper visuals over the years, but The Life's story-driven mode was easily the most entertaining take on the staid sports genre. Unfortunately, the end of the Life trilogy is not one that'll go down in the history books - if we're lucky, that is.
For reasons we can't quite gather, NBA 08 has taken a dramatic step backwards this year. We can only hypothesize that it's because the game's limited resources were focused almost entirely on getting the cutscenes in order and not much else. All you need to do is try and play any mode other than The Life; you'll quickly come to the same conclusion. Simply put, it's dreadful.
In fact, the on-court action borders on unplayable. A stuttery framerate serves up a barely-watchable basketball experience, while players dart to and fro with movements resembling nothing like humans in motion. The developers didn't even bother to build in animations to handle players moving back down the court after a made basket - all of a sudden, the screen resets itself clumsily and everyone disappears, save for the inbounder and point guard. About the only saving grace in any of this is the returning red-yellow-green shooting halo, the only hoops gaming innovation that Sony can claim in their years building this franchise.
Of course, fewer of us than ever would have plopped NBA 08 into our PS2 for gameplay. Naturally, The Life is what we're interested in. As our story commences, the focus is not so much on the character you've built to dominate in the paint and on the perimeter (and can be imported from last year if you've got that memory card lying around), but rather the grizzled coach who's decided to hang it up for good - but not before taking one last shot at another title. While it's a decent enough premise, it's quickly obvious that this Life suffers from the least compelling storyline of the three. Perhaps we were spoiled by last season's mano-a-mano showdown, but we just weren't feeling this latest immersion into the inner circle of an NBA squad.