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In the first part of my series, I documented how I fell out of love with the NBA Live series by the 2006 edition.

For Part 2, I have to be fair. Unlike past Live editions, when their "new features" were about as useful as a 3-pointer at the buzzer when your team's down by four, 2009 actually seems very innovative.

It's going to take a lot for Live to win me back, but so far, everything they've shown looks interesting. And really, we have to admit that this could be the next step in sports games. As much as Live's gameplay emulates a sport which is nothing like basketball, we have to give them due props for trying to move the sport forward. As soon as I typed that last sentence, I sneezed... Guess my body's still not used to giving EA Sports compliments.

You can find the full list of features here, but it's all smoke and mirrors. Yeah, they're cool (or so it seems), but it's their jobs to make them sound cool. Only a fan knows which features are truly important, so let me enumerate the things NBA Live '09 has going for it.

Dynamic DNA - "...which evaluates Player DNA that breaks down how a player scores, Team DNA that rates how the players on the floor play as a unit and Tendencies that refer to the percentage a player drives left, right or shoots from each spot on the floor."

This is the single biggest reason why I even started writing this series. When I first read about the Dynamic DNA, I was blown away. A system that updates player stats and tendencies based on real-life performances?!? Wow. Remember the days when we were stuck with whatever rating the players had? Yeah, we could tweak their ratings, but it would have been inaccurate. And it would have been a lot of work. And more than that, it was their tendencies that really needed editing. It's common in the actual NBA for a player to adjust their style to fit their new team better. And somehow, that was never reflected in video games before.

Another great thing about this is the Team DNA. I hope they can somehow incorporate this into the way the CPU constructs their franchise. It really annoys me to no end when CPU makes random trades that does their team more harm than good. Yeah, you traded your best PG for a stud C, but what use is it when you already have a stud C in your team? Hopefully, this Team DNA gives each team its own identity to build around on. So, in a perfect world, the run & gun Phoenix Suns would never trade for a player like Shaq (oh, wait...). And as the years go by, this would also (hopefully) allow a team to change styles. Using the Suns again, when Steve Nash retires, then obviously the helter skelter style would have to change (unless the CPU is smart enough to develop a PG similar to Nash's style). Now that the team revolves around Amare Stoudemire, then hopefully they'd target players that complements his style. Or the CPU could decide to "rebuild". The possibilities are limitless, but I seriously doubt that they would extend to the Dynasty Mode for this year. Wish this could make its way to the game by next year, though.

The other thing that EA Sports does really well is present their product in the most authentic way possible. If you are new to the basketball game market, you'd immediately think that Live is the one to own. And for that, you have to give EA props.

From hyping their games months before the release date, holding mega-parties, granting interviews to NBA superstars and locking in the ESPN license, EA Sports has the marketing aspect on a stranglehold. And when it comes to features, they continuously cook up every NBA fans' dreams.


First off, one thing that I always liked about Live is their FIBA license. Yeah, the rosters' player ratings are appropriately inferior, but how classic would it be to match up the US with Spain? Or how about using Greece and Argentina? Just one more example of how EA knows how to sell games. Next thing we know, they'll have the WNBA license ready for next year.

Their presentation is also always slick, and their soundtracks always feauture more big-names. Not saying 2k should go mainstream, but they definitely could take a page from EA and try to crank up the hype machine like never before. The last thing I would want is EA locking up the NBA license the way they locked up the NFL's. Hell, even 2k's college ball game has been cancelled!

As for the other features, some of them were found in 2k8's games. The playcalling system, lockdown control and NBA Academy are basically just rehashes of 2k's games.

So far, the gameplay of Live seems much improved (although eerily similar to 2k's), but there are still some animations that are nowhere near natural. Honestly, it looks much like a less polished version of NBA 2k8, and right now, 2k9 should really blow 2k8 out of the water. But let's reserve judgment until we see more.

Basically, the Dynamic DNA is the one thing that could possibly leapfrog Live back to respectability. If this feature truly changes the way players and teams play, then this will be a success. But if the technology proves to be too advanced for the gameplay, then it's all for nothing. The promise is there, let's hope it works out.

For Part 3, I will talk about how the basketball game world can improve more, and updates on how 2k9 is looking. But for now, check the latest preview out for NBA 2k9. Makes you wish it's already October, eh?

Digg! BallHype: hype it up!

22 comments

  1. Jason  

    In the following like 6 or 7 months after I bought it, I played NBA Live 2003 like half the time I was awake.

    I don't know why, but I just stopped playing the games with any real frequency after 05. I would go over to my friend's house almost every day and do slam dunk competitions for hours. Such a great game. But now i hardly play it anymore.

    I kinda think ever since 05, they've been trying too hard.

  2. robbz18  

    Jason, glad to hear from you again! If you read my last post, you can see that we're both on the same side here... Live 2006 just really sucked big-time...

    I dont know if you've tried the 2k series yet, but it's loads better than Live.

    You should really give ball games another chance, because they have been bringing it lately. And it's a great time to be a video game baller!

  3. Jason  

    haha. i'm definitely gonna play some live 08 or whatever the latest version my friend has next time i'm at his house.

    I haven't checked out the 2k series, but i will definitely do that as well.

    i'm digging this new layout! very blue **cough Weezer cough**. looks good.

  4. robbz18  

    That's the spirit! I'm sure you'll get into videogame ball again once you try it. It's basically all I play.

    Thanks, man. I really got tired of my old layout. I don't even like "emo", using the old layout was just nutty. A lot more improvements are in store for my blog, so hopefully you'll like the re-design!

  5. -Gerard Himself-  

    +1 for Jason for the Weezer reference ;)

    Robbi: cool blog, used to be quite a b-ball gamer myself, nice read!

    Second: how in the world did you get your blog like this? I mean, you have to use standard layouts (template?) right? I really don't understand how you got your banner so big and beautiful! Awesome!!!!!!

    Again, I really don't understand how you did it. nice.

  6. robbz18  

    Gerard: Used to? Haha. Do you still play nowadays?

    And man, I can't even take credit for the banner. Me and my girl came up with the concept, but the production was all hers! Haha. I was just watching her work her magic on Photoshop, man.

    As for the layout, you can simply download it off the web, man.

  7. -Gerard Himself-  

    I hardly play videogames anymore. You know, I have this PS2 for years and years now, and am not planning to buy a PS3. If I would do that, I'd probably would check NBA 2K9 out. I still have NBA 2K7 here, and also NBA Street V3. That was probably the last game I really played a lot. If I had a PS# I'd probably get NBA Street Homecourt too. Addicting stuff! You're never too old for videogames!

  8. -Gerard Himself-  

    hm, that was probably the most boring post you've got on your blog so far. ;)

  9. robbz18  

    Gerard: LOL! Love the brutal honesty, man.

    Re the games, I'm not really into arcade bball games, but I'm glad you play 2k instead of Live! And yeah, as far as I'm concerned, videogames will never go out of style!

    Re the post... Hhmm.. I see your point, man. To be honest, I wasn't really "feeling it" when I wrote it, but it was still fun discussing Live's new features. Have to admit, though, it appeared more like a preview from a gaming site rather than a blog post, right? haha.

    But you gotta watch out for Part 3. Ironically, though, this was one of my more popular articles on YardBarker.

    And, oh yeah, new post up!

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