NBA Live 08 PC Review

This particular reviewer is getting rather fed up of the yearly sports updates that offer little in the way of improvements or additions to its predecessor. With only slight changes from one year to the next, it gets harder and harder to recommend buying the latest version of a game when you can get the previous incarnation for less money, and with most of the same modes and features still present.

NBA Live 08 is a case in point of this, and its transition to the PC does nothing to help its cause. First of all, the controls in a sports game like this are essential to getting the most out of the game. All of the different moves, both offensive and defensive, require combinations of analogue stick control and buttons, and if you want to make the most of the level of control the game offers, you’ll need a control pad for sure. Keyboard play is unthinkable, really. However, setting up the controller for use is more complicated than it needs to be, and can make for some frustrating games to begin with as you try and work out how to do some of the more complicated moves or plays.

The game’s visuals are another area where it suffers. Even on maximum settings and at the highest resolution, NBA Live 08 can still look like a PS2 game at times, with jagged character models and some ropey animation. For some reason the game only supports resolutions up to 1280×1024, and you have to wonder why this is the case. Commentary and sound effects are decent, as is the menu music, but when these areas are the stronger points of a game, it’s a sad indication of how it actually plays.

NBA Live 08 seems to be caught inbetween the arcade style basketball games and the simulation style. While being quite fast-paced and easy to control, it offers depth in its variety of moves and the new hot spots feature adds some tactical depth and semi-realism. At any time while on the court you can bring up some hot spots that show you where the player you’re currently controlling is most likely to score from. This likelihood is calculated by the player’s stats and is a nice way of making it clearer who the better shooters are in your team and where they’re most likely to make a basket from. However, seeing as most basketball games already use player stats to gauge how often a player will make a shot, this seems more like a way of just getting you to look at player positioning. This is no bad thing, but the way the feature’s been hyped up doesn’t really reflect its implementation in the game.

Shooting and dunking is relatively easy, and for the most part it works well. Some of the collision detection issues in previous versions have been addressed, which is a huge improvement, but blocking shots is still overly difficult and rarely works. The broadcast camera view is back as well, offering a much better overview of the game as it plays out compared to the default end-to-end view.

The range of modes on offer is the same as ever, with the FIBA World Championship being the only addition. There are eight international teams to choose from or, if you should so wish, you can enter an NBA team into the tournament. The majority of new elements come in the range of moves your players can do, with new spins, fakes and drop-steps, and the much vaunted Go-To Moves. These allow the top players in your team to pull out a signature move “when the team needs you most”. Or, just whenever you feel like it.

The problem with NBA Live 08 is that it doesn’t really know what kind of game it is, and with the PC version being handled so poorly compared to the PS3 and 360 versions, it’s very hard to recommend it. It’s nothing new for PC versions to be watered down compared to their console siblings, but when the game has fewer good points as a result, it feels like a kick in the teeth for PC gamers. With 2K’s basketball series not being available on the PC, it seems NBA Live 08 is the best bet for PC owners wanting to shoot some hoops. A dire situation indeed.

Same old same old, and worse than its console counterparts.

6 out of 10
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