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Xbox 360 Review: NBA Live 08

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Needing everything the development team had to make the franchise relevant again, NBA Live 08 is a remarkable turn around from 07. It’s still far from perfect, but the basics are now in place to refine this series into a worthwhile basketball title when compared with mounting competition.

Improvements start with a smoother feel, steady frame rate, and improved animation routines. The pacing of the sport is better represented, and basic defense can typically prevent the over use of long passes down the floor for easy shots under the net. You’ll finally need to extend the quarter length to land some realistic scores.

The post game is better represented. Centers have the ability to spin and juke with ease to find their shot, and key players will perform as they do in real life. Shaq will look to power in for the dunk; Duncan will fade back or take the hook.

For the shooter, Hot Spots are laid out on the court to represent favorite areas for the player. Bruce Bowen is deadly from the corners, though doesn’t have the accuracy to land 3’s as consistently from the elbows. Learning the strengths of each player on your squad is critical for higher shooting percentages.

Minor changes off the court include simulation situations which pop up during simmed dynasty games. Injuries may need to be fixed, or you could have the opportunity to play the final minute if the game is close at hand. A FIBA license is included for World Championship play. Leagues are finally available for online fans, while the other multi-player options remain the same.

Not all of these updates address a number of fundamental flaws that have been with this series for years. Defense is blatantly stupid at times, like failing to adjust off a screen. If you work yourself around a screen, the AI teammates still make the defensive switch even if it’s not needed, leaving an opposing player wide open.

Steals are frequent, easy, and constant. Fast breaks are still the meat of the game, though the changes to the pacing have lessened this somewhat. Close to the rim, when using the lay up/dunk button, players rarely just make the easy play and find themselves flopping or spinning unnecessarily resulting in a miss. It makes the entire game feel sloppy.

There’s still plenty of room for improvement, but the leap in quality in only one year is staggering. The smoother, natural flow of play is a huge boost to Live, and finally sports gamers can look forward to some competition in the realm of basketball games. Stick with NBA 2K8 for this year, though keep an eye on Live in ’09.

NBA Live 08 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, and Mobile Phone.


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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
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