Passing its prime. Review

NBA Live 2001 Info

genre

  • Sports

players

  • 1 - 8

Publisher

  • EA Sports
  • Electronic Arts

Developer

  • Electronic Arts

Release Date

  • 01/01/1970
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PC
  • PS
  • PS2

rating

Passing its prime.

Few developers have dominated an entire genre like EA Sports has dominated simulation

basketball. With roots dating back to 1990’s Genesis release of Lakers vs.

Celtics
, the NBA Live series has simply ruled the market for a decade.

The only recent challenge has come from 989 Sports’ Shootout games, but

after a promising start, that series was promptly boxed out, elbowed in the face

and sent sprawling to the floor.

So when you think about PS2 basketball, you’ll likely immediately focus on

NBA Live 2001. Comparatively this is a good thing, since 989’s Shootout

2001
is about as fun as inflating a basketball using your nostrils. But

aside from a few tweaks, the latest installment in the Live series plays

it a little too safe.

This is essentially a port of the PSX version, which itself was mainly just

an upgrade of NBA Live 2000,

which in turn was just an upgrade of NBA

Live 1999
, etc, etc, etc. Frankly, the series has made very few changes

since NBA Live 98, which is both a good

and bad thing.

The basics are all here and accounted for. Every player and team in the league

is present with the current rosters. You can play an Exhibition game, romp through

a full Season, jump straight to the Playoffs or practice moves in One-on-One.

Same old meat and potatoes.

Sadly, that includes the graphics. While NBA Live 2001 for the PS2 is

hardly shabby-looking, it certainly isn’t the galactic leap many of us wished

it would be. The courts and crowd looks good, but the players don’t look nearly

enough like their real-life counterparts and the motion-captured movements are

often too jerky. It really looks more like a souped-up version of the PSX game

rather than the fancy PS2 smorgasbord we saw in Madden

2001.

There’s a very silly intro sequence at the start of every game that’s meant

to mimic the player introductions found in the real world. But rather than make

these team specific, you just get the starting five hopping around slapping

hands, looking distinctly unathletic. Uh, yay team?

The Live series has always been known for its emphasis on realistic

gameplay, and here it doesn’t let down. The game feels genuinely good and players

tend to play the “right” way (meaning it’s hard to score a million points with

a scrub). As always, scores are often inflated if you play the full 12 minute

quarters, but that’s nothing new. The game is fun and fast-paced and occasionally

looks a helluva lot like the real thing.

The control is generally decent. Players will find plenty of moves to practice,

from up-and-under post moves to stutter steps and spins. Unfortunately, someone

forgot to add the option to disable that aggravating ‘player momentum’ that

has plagued the NBA Live games for years. There’s nothing worse than

passing to a guy who’s walking towards the sidelines only to have him do the

electric slide out of bounds right when he catches the pass.

There are four difficulty settings, but the computer doesn’t so much play better as make more shots. The defense is usually just a guy standing in front of you who never succumbs to your jukes and spins, often leading to the offensive charge. This gets aggravating at times, but admittedly helps keep the AI feeling aggressive.

One-on-One mode has improved due to the graphical increase – you can actually

tell the legends apart from one another. However, it still boils down to jump

shots and rebounds. You can indeed play as Michael Jordan as well as a slew

of past superstars, though the differences are minimal since no one has any

signature moves. I really wish they just switched to an NBA Jam engine

for this part already.

As usual, the announcers offer little to help or hinder the experience. At

times the play-by-play is seamless and really works well, but the color commentary

is repetitive and dumb. In a strange twist, the music kicks ass. In addition

to the catchy Montell Jordan theme, a few tracks have funkster Bootsie Collins

laying down heavy grooves. I actually didn’t mind pausing the game.

Loading the game, however, is painful. Anyone out there expecting little

to no load times simply because this is the PS2 should prepare to sit on their

ass watching their expectations shatter. The load times aren’t a smidgen better

than PSX games.

In the end, NBA Live 2001 is a solid if unspectacular start for EA

Sports’ next-gen hoops. Fans of the series will be genuinely pleased. But compared

to what Visual Concepts is doing with the NBA

2K
games, Live has a long way to go before it makes it to the Finals.





REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

3.5
Rating
It's Live!
Solid gameplay
Not much new
Boring graphics
Long load times