LIVE series has always given me a lot of frustration. How can such a big
company like EA always seem to miss these huge bugs that appear in very little
time of gameplay? The last game I reviewed in the series had this huge
rebounding flaw that made me want to throw the CD out the window only after a
few sessions. So with hesitation, I went back to the NBA live series and let me
say that it's still a very flawed game.
Live 06 is the
latest in the series of EA's attempts at making an NBA game. With coverboy
Dwyane Wade in tow, EA looks to deliver but fails in a lot of respects. First
off, let me say the rebounding issue is not as big as the earlier series but
it's still a very large part of the frustration. Many times you'll see your
teammates jump up for the ball only to see a lone player from the opposite team
snag the ball. And it won't just happen once or twice. I've played many games
where the opposition would just have a field day getting offensive rebounds
while my guys came up empty handed even when they had position. I even turned
down the offensive rebound slider in the game to the lowest point but this
didn't seem to have any effect. Seeing the ball just fall to the floor with
your players around isn't an uncommon sight as well. If there's any over the
back fouls in the game, I've never seen one so you can jump around and try to
grab the ball without fear. The rebounding issue, while not as bad as the
previous series, still lingers and is a big source of frustration.
aspect of the game that had me tearing my hair out is the amount of times your
player will drive to the hoop and throw it off the back of the backboard. Now I
know there's contact in the paint but watching an NBA game, how many times have
you seen a pro player shoot at the rear of the backboard after being bumped?
It's not uncommon to be driving to the lane only to have your guys get bumped
and try to shoot the ball while he's behind the backboard causing a turnover. I
can understand if this occurred every once in a while but both the computer and
yourself will experience this at least three times per game.
of turnovers, there's an issue with the stats keeping engine whereby a turnover
is issued anytime the ball goes out of bounds. So let's say I'm Larry Hughes
and I'm pressuring the ball carrier. I go for the steal but it glances off of
me out of bounds. That's a turn over. Let's try another example. Let's say I'm
jumping up and down on an inbounds pass. The player throwing it in hits my arms
and it glances off out of bounds. The game considers that a turnover. To test
this, I started the game and did exactly like my first example and had a poke
away go into the stands. Pausing the game and going into the stats, I found
that I am charged with a turnover. Now I know Lebron James isn't really a
league leader in assist-to-turnover ratio but to consistently have ten or more
turnovers because he's great at knocking the ball away from the offensive player
is ridiculous. This especially happens a lot when the player with the ball is
near the sidelines. You’ll have a high rate of reaching around to swipe the
ball out of bounds and giving yourself a nice +1 in the turnover column. I went
through a season averaging a triple double of 27 points, 10 assists, and 11
turnovers on six minute quarters.
the turnovers, the way NBA Live 06
records assists also seems inconsistent. By definition, an assist is a pass
that directly leads to a basket. An assist can be awarded for a basket scored
after the ball has been dribbled if the player's pass led to the field goal
being made. Usually a dribble or two before a basket will result in the player
that passed to earn an assist. NBA Live
06 doesn’t seem to think so. Playing as Lebron, I would pass to Larry
Hughes many times to see Hughes dribble once and spin the ball around his body
and lay it in. You’d think Lebron would earn an assist each time this is done.
Looking at the stats, I witness many times the computer the assist column would
not change but other times I’d be credited with one.
rather funny that for a game with good defensive AI, the rebounding AI would be
so tarnished. NBA Live 06's computer players do a good job of switching
to an open man and rotating around so that they don't leave an open man open
for long. The computer also does a good job of trying to double team players
and you'll sometimes get to see the animation of an offensive player in trouble
trying to find someone to kick the ball out to.
the passing lane is very rewarding in NBA Live 06. I do like it's
tougher to pass the ball cross court without having it being picked off. This
should help curb pass happy players who just throw the ball around without
being careful. I found myself using the icon passing for the majority of the
game so that I had a lot more control on where it goes.
offensive action on the court sides more to the arcade style rather than the
simulation style partly because of the Freestyle mode that I will talk about in
a bit. With most of my games, the majority of the points are driving lay-ups or
dunks. Jump shooters do get more into the act in the series, especially those
with the sharpshooter Freestyle characteristic. Even so, you can live just
driving and performing slams or feeding it to a center that can muscle it down.
you are Milt Palacio, Ray Allen, or Mike Wilks, guards that have a semi-free
look to the basket will almost always tickle the bottom of the twine. I'm happy
to see that jumpers are a lot more effective and even open jumpers at that but
the CBA level guards should not be raining jumpers on me like Larry Bird at the
3-Point contest. It wasn't abnormal to see even the most mediocre player on the
other team drain the twenty foot jumpers with consistency. While these are
pros, even the most seasoned pros can't nail 85% of their jumpers.
introduction of Freestyle Superstar mode gives you another EA feature to abuse,
and abuse you will. There are six different types of modes. Lebron James will
have the high-flyer mode whereby he'll sky over the opposition and slam in
their faces. On defense, he'll have the stopper mode where he'll be able to get
that great steal to lead the fast break. Ray Allen, for example, has the
sharpshooter mode which enables him to get off quick shots with deadly
accuracy. Some players have multiple modes that you'll have to choose to use as
you can only have one offensive and one defensive Freestyle mode at your
disposal during gameplay. Using Larry Hughes, I was able to average over five
steals because the Freestyle mode just amplifies his already great stealing
ability. Lebron could easily get to the hoop many times because of his great high-flyer
Freestyle. With Zydrunas Ilgauskas abusing centers with his scorer Freestyle,
it was easy for my Cleveland Cavaliers to cruise through most games even at
higher difficulty. Freestyle does add some great animations to the game but
they have to tone it down some in future releases.
Freestyle mode gives you great scoring and defensive opportunities, the general
control of the player seems to hinder you at times. You'll see a lot of sliding
going on and that does lead to some easy baskets for both teams. I've also had
issues where my player would continually move one way even though I was pushing
the analog stick the other way. This seemed happened on inbound plays and while
it wasn't often, it happened enough to be annoying. I've also experienced times
where I would drive and hold the shoot button only to have my player stand
there dribbling the ball. When I press the shoot button, I expect the player to
go into the act of shooting. Instead, my dribble and pull up jumper became a
dribble and stand around while the opposition converged on what little space I
things are working though they aren't too bad. I'm glad to be able to finish a
fast break now where last time I tried an NBA Live series, the computer would
always find a way to catch up to me and cause my fast break to turn into a half
court offense even if I was ten feet ahead of them. Momentum of the players
don't seem to break up now with a pass and they'll glide nicely to the basket
for the layup or a rim rattling dunk. The times when you run around the picks
to lose your defender and nail that 15 foot jumper is a thing of beauty. When a
team moves the ball around with crisp passing to find that open person, the
game plays well. It’s just too bad those times are over shadowed by the
problems the series exhibits.
timing on releasing the game and lack of roster updates is really horrible. I
can understand some moves not being in like DaSanga Diop on the Mavs but not to
have Joe Johnson on the Hawks, Bobby Simmons on the Bucks, or Jeff McGinnis on
the Nets to name a few really shows how little EA paid attention to the
rosters. Yet, some off season moves are in the game such as Larry Hughes on the
Cavaliers. Yes, you can get updates and move them around yourself but there are
a lot of moves EA missed when they had plenty of time to put them in the game.
want to be the GM, NBA Live 06 gives you all the necessary tools to run
the team. To trade players, the game follows the NBA rules of matching
salaries. Because of that, I know the pain of Isiah Thomas and trying hard to
trade away dead weight with large salaries. I tried fooling the computer in a
few lopsided trades but I couldn't accomplish the feat with much success.
Besides dealing with player salaries, you'll also need to hire coaches,
trainers, and scouts. All play an important role to the success of the team and
you'll need to balance the amount you spend on each individual.
keep you abreast of the news in the NBA, you'll be using your pager to gather
information as it comes in. The news is separated into different categories.
Injury news on other teams coming in can help you prepare for them should you
face them in the near future. You'll also get updates on your players and how
they are doing in training. The pager is a nice little quick way to keep up to
always presented games that looked great and NBA Live 06's graphics are
pretty good. I still think 2K Sports' series looks better but for the most
part, the players look very close to their real life counterparts. From the
different body types and the style of play, EA did a pretty good job of
modeling and animating the players. Your players can morph into different
shapes if you don't keep them training right. You won't have a team of Shawn
Kemps but you will see them change over time.
of the player are a hit and miss though. You’ll see a lot of skating or gliding
which can lead to easy baskets but look very unnatural. Because of this,
computer guards do seem to slide through your defense a lot easier than they
should. The Freestyle animations are really well done and when you pull off
these moves, they look just like ESPN highlights. Transitions from one type of
animation to the next aren’t too bad but you can see some breakups in some of
them. When you get picked, you do see a nice animation of your player trying to
Albert and Steve Kerr are the play by play guys for the game. As with most
sports games, you'll get a large amount of repeat comments which can become
annoying. Playing as the Cleveland Cavaliers, I hear the two talk about how
Lebron came right out of high school and surpassed expectations about 3 times a
game. A few times the line was repeated right after another. The two do follow
the action on the court well though unlike some of the basketball games I
played before. The two aren't the worse commenting duo for a basketball game
and the they sound very natural during gameplay.
Live 06 is still a
very arcade like game that relies heavily on guard play a little too much.
There's still that horrendous rebounding issue and the addition of Freestyle
Superstar mode makes some players score too easily. The on court action has improved
a little bit but its' still pretty lacking. While the game will surely sell on
name value alone, I can't recommend the game too much to basketball fans
looking for a good solid representation of the game.
More On:NBA Live 06
The NBA Live series still has some ways to go. While it's got some good graphics and some good options, gameplay leaves a lot to be desired.