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NBA Live 2001
Review By: Louis Yakobson
Developer:   EA Canada
Publisher:   EA
# of Players:   1-8
Genre:   Basketball
ESRB:   Everyone
Date Posted:   01-10-00

Fans of the NBA Live series have experienced something that needs to drastically change. Every year a NBA Live game is released, but too many times it is too identical to its predecessor. Although some changes have been incorporated into NBA Live 2001, it's basically the same game as NBA Live 2000. EA Sports has the gameplay, graphics, and statistics down perfect, but they lack extra features and modes for a killer app. To make next yearís version the top basketball game, EA needs to include extras such as player introductions and a slam-dunk contest.

The game modes in NBA Live 2001 are exactly identical to its predecessor, except for a new mode that was incorporated into this yearís game. That mode is the NBA Live Challenge. In this mode you will be given tasks such as win a game by 10 points or get 15 rebounds in one game. The tasks are divided into 4 different categories, Rookie Challenge, Starter Challenge, All-Star Challenge, and Super Star Challenge. The easiest tasks are found under the Rookie Challenge while the toughest tasks are found under the Super Star Challenge. After you complete a certain amount of tasks in one category of difficulty, you move onto more difficult tasks. By completing the tasks, you will be rewarded points. After receiving points, you can exchange your points for rewards. Some rewards include 2-D players, Mohawks, big Afros, giant players, and more. This is a very fun and challenging mode that should keep you entertained for hours.

In the exhibition mode, you play as your favorite team, whether it is the Eastern All-Stars or the 70's All-Stars. You can play vs. a friend or the CPU.

In the season mode, you try to lead your team all the way to the championship in a full 82-game season. You can play with a custom team or a true NBA team. Players can keep up with whatís going on in the season by viewing the overwhelming number of statistics present in NBA Live 2001. Standings, League Leaders and more types of statistics are available. The season mode is the core of the game, but it lacks in many ways. A major complaint I have is the lack of using the GM mode. Another complaint of mine is the game does not feature a franchise mode and the only GM stuff that will go on will be trading, signing players, and releasing players. While that doesn't sound bad, it truly is. The CPU teams will only release 1 or 2 players a year. Also, when you sign a player in real life, you need to have enough money. In NBA Live 2001, all you have to do is release a crappy player and sign any player to take the free spot. This is a major part of why the NBA Live series has suffered, and it should be incorporated into next yearís version.

In the playoffs you immerse yourself into the tough competition and hopefully go all the way to the championship game.

3-Point Shootout - In this mode you can watch the CPU shoot it out or go against them. You may also challenge your friend. This mode is exactly the same as last yearís mode.

1 On 1 - Pick your favorite player from any team and play Michael Jordan one on one. You and Jordan will go one-on-one on the blacktop. This mode is identical to the one-on-one mode found in NBA Live 2000.

NBA Draft - Go through a draft where you and 28 other teams pick the best players in the league. After you pick your players, create the team by picking your starters.

As usual, EA Sports has created a game with great graphics. The players depict their real life counterparts. The stadiums are very realistic and grandeur. You will be able to even see shadows and spots where extreme light is present. On replays, you can see how realistic the ball looks as it spins on its way to the basket. Not only do the players look real but you can also you can see the expressions on their faces. If a player commits a foul, heíll argue with the referee, wave his hands in disgust, and will look angry. As you finish a quarter, you will see the emotion on your teamsí face as they slap each other five or argue over plays.

EA Sports has once again opted to bring Hip-Hop into their latest installment of the NBA Live series. The game features Montell Jordan, an R&B singer known all over the music industry. While Iím a hoop and hip-hop fan, Montell Jordan doesnít belong in NBA Live 2001. EA has said they want Hip-Hop as part the game, yet Montell Jordan is the singer they pick. Listen, EA, if you say that Hip-Hop is an important facet of NBA Live, I suggest you hire real rappers such as Snoop Dogg or Xzibit. (Xzibit is featured in Madden NFL 2001) On the contrary, the in-game sound is nicely done. Fans will cheer for you as youíre shooting a free throw or slam dunking the ball. While running around, the sound of squeaks, coming from your sneakers are heard. The play-by-play and color commentary can be implemented with better sayings and expressions. The play-by-play announcer does his job, but the feel of realism just isnít there. Frankly, the best option is to turn off play-by-play and turn on the arena announcer. The arena announcer is much more realistic and fun to listen to. Sound has never been a "high" in NBA Live, and NBA Live 2001 once again proves that.

The extras are limited in NBA Live 2001. The only fun modes are the NBA Live Challenge, Three-Point Shootout, and One-On-One. (Nothing like kicking MJís ass in a street game on 1 on 1). Although these modes are present, players have seen these modes in the previous version, meaning nothing new to stimulate their need for basketball modes. Of course, NBA Live 2001 is the best basketball game out on PSX, although improvements are needed. If youíre a basketball fan, NBA Live 2001 is the game to get.

HIGHS:

-Great Graphics
-NBA Live Challenge Mode
-Gameplay and Controls are extraordinary

LOWS:

-No use of GM mode
-Play-By-Play and Color Commentary is weak
-Same modes (too similar to last yearís version)

FINAL VERDICT:

NBA Live 2001 is the best basketball game out for the PSX. The gameplay and graphics are stellar, but a lack of features and modes keeps this one from being the killer app it should be. If you love the NBA Live series, this game is a must-have.

Overall Score: 8.0

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