NBA Live 2002 Review

NBA Live 2002 Info


  • Sports


  • 1 - 4


  • EA


  • EA
  • EA Sports

Release Date

  • 11/30/1999
  • Out Now


  • PS2
  • Xbox


This fadeaway just keeps on fading.

After spending some quality time with NBA Live 2002, I think it’s safe

to say that someone at EA Sports has too tight a grip on the mantra, “if it ain’t

broke, don’t fix it.” Year after year, the Live series crops up with minor

retrofits while other EA lines, like the admirable Madden games, enjoy

sparkling new touches and interesting new modes.


again, we’re presented with a game that isn’t intrinsically broken so much as

obviously outdated and outclassed. The feel of NBA Live 2002 is nearly

identical to past iterations, despite the fact that we’re now on a PS2. While

last year’s effort was somewhat excused due

to it being a first-generation game, this year’s isn’t so lucky.

The basics are all here and intact. You can play Exhibition games, try a full Season, Practice your skills or compete 1-on-1 Larry Bird Vs. Dr. J style. All the teams and players are here, including a certain geezer named Michael whose sneakers most of you are wearing.

NBA Live 2002 lets you create-a-player, but they forgot to put some

sort of cap on just how good that player can be from the get-go. You can crank

his abilities to high heaven, leading to a 7-foot point guard with 30-foot range

and tighter handles than Iverson. It sort of takes the edge out of cultivating

a created player through the season.

The only real new addition is the Franchise mode, which lets you guide a team through multiple seasons. With some GM elements like dealing with salary caps and extensive trades, it’s a solid addition.

What’s the problem here, folks? I mean, Madden 2002

has Madden Cards, kick ass tutorials, all manner of team specific depth and

leaves its PSX brother in the dust, which it should. NBA Live 2002 gets

no such extras, and they even took one out by getting rid of the 3-point contest.

Guess hoop fans aren’t quite as important to please.

This is made painfully clear by the inconsistent gameplay. Little has been done to reflect the new rule changes – there isn’t a zone defense to be seen. Players still sort of glide around the court, and they took out the option to disable player momentum. The result is like NBA On Ice.

This control is mixed. Throwing alley-oops is made simpler by relying on the

press of the L2 button, and the icon-passing comes in handy for pinpointing

fast breaks. But the juke moves never seem to do a thing. I hoped someone would

have peeked over the cubicle to study the moves in NBA

, but no such luck.


the most aggravating flaw is the lack of any defensive rebounding, though the

game box purports otherwise. Nabbing a board feels totally random and you’re

much better off just letting the CPU do the work for you while you take charge

of a guard 20 feet away from the ball.

Apparently, the success of NBA Street gave the minds behind NBA

a few ideas about the value of dunking, because it dominates the game.

Don’t get me wrong – the plethora of dunks is very cool and can get the adrenaline

pumping. But it’s really out of hand. The lane is rarely congested and far too

easy to penetrate, which shouldn’t be the case since the zone defense leads

to clogged lanes. Wait, that’s right, I just mentioned they didn’t pay any attention

to the rule changes, so I guess it makes sense. *Sigh*

At least the graphics got a little boost. The players look pretty good, particularly the faces, which just get better and better. Some of the animations are great, but it’s clear that they spent way more time with dunks and layups than, well, anything else, as the transition animations between walking and running suck bad.

That’s one helluva shiny court, though. Nice reflections. The arenas are faithful,

but the crowd is still a bunch of crummy repetitive sprites. The whole graphical

feel is nothing close to the glory of the NBA


At times, though, things look right and you’ll pull off some broadcast-worthy

plays. When the animations manage to flow together, you can wind up with some

cool little snippets – Kobe coming off a pick, stutter stepping, hitting the

baseline and busting out a reverse layup underneath Karl Malone’s outstretched

arms. The game has its moments…just not enough of them.

The sound is a step backwards, with tame menu music and cheesy in-game b-ball tunes. The two announcers should both be shot. “DID YOU SEE HOW HIGH HE JUMPED?” NASTY, JUST NASTY.” Read that again, because you’ll be hearing it over and over again. These guys are so totally mystified by the most banal moves, shots and dunks that you’d think they were in a coma for the past 20 years and just woke up.

So in the end, NBA Live 2002 turns out to be little more than another

minor upgrade to a game that has barely changed in about 4 years. But in some

ways it’s worse than that due to some glaring omissions and a dated feel. Rent

first, but I doubt any of you would want to foot the salary for this free agent.


Same old NBA Live
New Franchise mode
And that's it
Subpar control
Lackluster gameplay
There is more to basketball than dunking