There was a time when a sports game could compensate for its poor performance by loading up in the visuals department. Actually it seemed to be EA Sports’ key to success for the majority of the late 90s. With the Dreamcast SEGA Sports came along and showed the world that there was more to sports games than just flashy graphics and high production values. Realistic action wasn’t just a possibility, it was a reality with the SEGA 2K line of sports products. This caused EA to go back to the drawing board, forcing it to rebuild its Triple Play
franchise from the ground up while tinkering with its other franchise. One of the properties has managed to avoid the overhaul though, the NBA Live
line of games. While the graphics still measure up quite nicely, EA has done very little to cater to true fans of the sports, offering up a pretty by-the-numbers basketball title that does little to challenge ESPN’s crown.
If you’ve played NBA Live 2004
then you’ve played NBA Live 2005
, save for one feature, the All-Star weekend. This feature allows you to participate in all of the amenities that go along with the All-Star game including the Rookies Vs. Sophomores Game, the three-point contest and the slam dunk contest. Of these the dunking contest is the most fleshed out addition. EA has taken the most exciting event of the All-Star weekend and turned it into a mini-game of some sorts. All of the actions are mapped to the face buttons and the shoulder buttons offer up slight modifiers like in the EA Sports Big line of games. It can be pretty fun but timing is the key to success here. One slight miscue and you’ll mess up he whole dunk, leading to poor scores. A successful dunk can be rewarding but it’s doubtful that many will have the patience to practice.
The Franchise Mode has changed a bit, taking some influences from the Madden 2005
interface. EA has cleaned things up and added a PDA device which serves as the Mecca of information. The schedule is a bit easier to read and all of the features have been refined a bit. The GM side shares many similarities with EA’s football franchises in which you’ll have to scout and manage your talent. You can now workout with your prospects before the draft to get a feel for them. I liked this feature but it’s difficult to see exactly what you’re getting in to. Then again the real NBA draft is kind of a crapshoot anyway so I guess it doesn’t really matter.
It’s hard to typify just what kind of game EA was trying to go for with this effort. At times the game can be very defense heavy; blocks come rather easily and steals are plentiful. Then on the other end of the spectrum EA loaded up the offensive end of the scale with hop steps and a dedicated lay up/dunk button. Here’s how a typical play breaks down; ball hander explodes past defender, defender creeps up behind ball handler as he goes for the easy lay-up, defender swipes ball away from behind, ball handler gets his own rebound and cashes in the easy bucket. In addition to the absurd amount of blocks are the inane amount of steals, far too many to be called realistic.
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