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There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned NBA rivalry. Whether it’s Lakers-Celtics or Bulls-Pistons, serious competition usually brings out the best in everyone. Clearly, that seems to have happened this season to the gang at 2K Sports, who must’ve been stung by the surprising turn of events last year that had Live jump ahead of 2K in the virtual hoops landscape.
One-on-one basketball is ritual humiliation. Bounce the ball off your opponent’s head, wave it in front of his face, snatch it away, fake him out and leave him crumpled on the floor, but don’t slam it into the basket until you’ve told him at least five juicy facts about his mom. We’ve played GTA, Manhunt and that naughty Mass Effect, but no videogame has filled us with such murderous rage as NBA Ballers did.
As sports games have evolved in the HD era, many gains have been offset by a loss of soul. While this current generation has ushered in an era of gorgeous graphics, super-deep franchise modes, and expansive online options, the public at large now struggles with hyper-complicated controls and a steep learning curve. NBA Jam is the perfect solution to this problem – a simple yet deep and stylish game that will appeal to everyone...
Larry Bird is mocking us. He’s just taken a seat at the three-point line and thrown a fiery basketball – underhanded - through the net, padding the insurmountable lead he and Kevin McHale have established. “Ha!” laughs our teammate as the hapless New Jersey Nets fail miserably at defense. “NBA Jam is the only game where you can act like a jerk and it’s OK!” While we don’t necessarily appreciate the behavior, it’s certainly a true statement...
Anyone who’s been playing next-gen basketball the past few years knows the story of Live. It’s gone from a broken-down catastrophe to a full-fledged winner over the course of its lifetime. This season continues that positive arc, as Live 09 builds on its success and, despite some problems that keep it from all-time greatness, offers a stiff challenge to NBA 2K9’s claim to the championship.
Being a game that has received a less than enthusiastic reception in recent years, EA Sports’ NBA Live has more room for improvement than most of the company’s other sporting franchises. While it might not have the most solid gameplay foundations to build on, there probably won’t be too many people desperately upset if EA were to tear it all down and start from scratch.
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