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Review By: Joe Rolfe
Developer:   EA Sports
Publisher:   EA Sports
# of Players:   1-8
Genre:   Basketball
ESRB:   Everyone
Date Posted:   2-20-01

Since the launch of the PlayStation 2, EA itself has literally been PS2. Outside of a few notable titles from other companies, the publishing juggernaut in EA Sports has stolen the crown as Sonyís most prized game maker, releasing hit after sports hit in SSX, Madden, NHL and FIFA. Could the treasured NBA Live series hold up to the same quality? Sadly, no. While itís in no way a bad game, as many NBA goers will be wooed by the fancy EA presentation and the great visual update, a much larger group of hardcore ball players will be let down by messy controls and overall unpolished feel of the game.

  

Sticking out like a sore thumb, Live 2001 clearly shows a lack of effort in the total list of modes. Thereís no three-point contest, which was one of my favorite additions to the Live series after it hit the PSone format. Speaking of the PSone, the Live 2001 version on that platform had a new "reward" system, giving players these challenges to meet in a game (i.e. points, steals, rebounds, etc.), yet this feature is no where to be found on PS2. Most painfully missing, however, is the gameís dearth of a much needed franchise mode. If anything, this facet of the Live series was one of the only real new additions that the continuity of games has shared. Itís present in the PC version, a title which will not reach nearly the same demographic as the PS2 account, so why no love? These miss fires in total on EAís part are simply inexcusable considering how much effort was put into their Madden, FIFA and SSX titles at an even earlier point in the PlayStation 2ís life span.

Those problems are not the gameís greatest downfalls, though. Despite being a step up graphically, not even the pretty visuals can hide the holes and cracks in the gameplayís armor. Although it would most likely pertain more to the controls of the game, the movement and actual playing of the game can be so frustrating sometimes that it affects the overall enjoyment of the game itself. The most annoying factor of the gameplay which turned me off (and, not surprisingly, NBA2K1 has excelled at) is the all in all tightness of the players and their movement. It hardly matters who you are controlling Ė be it the looming giant Shaq or the speedy Bonzi Wells Ė and you never feel as if thereís a fair weight distribution on the stars themselves. Players slide across the floor way too smoothly. Although it may be partially due to the uncomfortable cameras that never look at the action close enough but at the same time are appropriate for gameplay, the result is the feel of two players bumping for position down low or playing tight man-on-man defense is seamlessly lost.

  

On top of this, players appear to have those magic radiant boxes surrounding them that give an unrealistic moment of space between two players at any given time. You could be running down the court on a transition break with the ball, only to be called for an offensive foul because the guy guarding you is running backwards and his flailing hands like an idiot. (Note that this happens many more times than Iíd like it to happen, despite the fact that the opponent is more than likely moving and not in a set stance). Also affected by these mysterious auras is the unresponsive rebounding. While balls bounce realistically, you never feel as though you can have a dominant man in the paint. Balls can go right through your hands, even though you could swear that your player had his hands all over it. Again, this can be attributed to the boxes around players since you canít get honest position under the basket, as you will literally be pushed by these invisible fields instead of the opposing player himself. Look at Visual Conceptís NBA 2K1, and youíll see there is no protective box around players, which results for a more realistic looking and playing game.

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