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NBA Live 2001
Preview By: Joe Rolfe
Developer:   EA
Publisher:   EA
Genre:   Basketball
# of Players:    1-2
Release Date:   Winter 2000
Posted:   11-09-00

While most critics claim that the Madden football series has the largest sports gaming fanbase in the world, one canít help but think that the NBA Live titles have garnered quite a following as well. Since itís early days on the Genesis, Live has consistently been the top hoops game on any platform. There have been the challengers, like 989ís NBA Shootout franchise, but every year EA Sports has come out on top. As a result itís a no-brainer that weíre seeing the basketball EA Sports iteration on the PS2 as well Ė after all, what could possibly be better in this world than a PS2-enhanced b-ball game?

Hardly anything, in my book.

Not to be outdone by last yearís NBA 2K from Sega, a game that raised the bar in basketball video games, EA is at it again with PlayStation 2, to take back their crown of the court. Can it succeed? If EA Sports can produce a game that is worthy to stand up against EAís own Madden PlayStation 2 game, then the answer is a definite yes.

Though the early screens may not show quite as much detail as the Madden PS2 game did, NBA Live is not to be out done in the visual department. Using high poly count player models that utilize cyberscan technology for incredibly detailed player heads and lifelike skin textures, the transition between real life and video games is smaller than it has ever been. Stadiums as well are getting the treatment, as Live 2001 will have incredibly realistic stadium environments. The benches, like the sidelines in Madden, will have animated players and coaches, plus the crowd will be packed with details as well. Coaches arguing calls, encouraging teammates and other little emotions will be on full display too. These will involve varied player interactions, post-goal reactions and multiple post-game celebrations, to top it all off.

Like Visual Concepts and their hoops game NBA 2K1, EA wanted to implement a new post game for Live 2001. Now the game puts complete and total control in the gamerís hand, as the inside game will be expanded upon for a much greater variation. Youíll be able to bump and back your defender down to the basket, then present you with multiple post moves to execute, such as an up and under lay-up, fade away jumpers and the classic sky hook. If you can break that opponentís defense and swerve to the whole, powerful dunks will be on hand to really lay down the authority.

EAís not leaving the audio behind, either. A new approach to speech captures the essence of the interaction between the play-by-play and color commentators, so the instances of hearing the two booth guys talk about completely different subject should be extinct. Bob Elliotís new in-depth play analysis should help the commentary team provide more intelligent and relevant following of the game at hand. As for the soundtrack, Live 2001 will keep with the same hip-hop beats of Live 2000, and now will feature the voice of pop star Montel Jordan.

With all these refinements and polish, Live 2001 looks to be nothing short of basketball heaven. The impending release date is only two months away, so the final stages of this game will be nearing completion any time now. If EA lives up to everything that is promised with the final product, then NBA Live 2001 could possibly turn out as the greatest basketball game ever created.
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