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Q4 2002



- Wicked hoops

- Good-looking, smooth graphics

- Excellent control

- Good ambiance

- Many play modes



- Announcing team suffers from repetition

- AI blocks shots like a madman



Review: NBA Live 2003 (PC)

Review: NBA Live 2003 (XBox)

Review: NBA Inside Drive 2003 (XBox)



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NBA Live 2003

Score: 9.0 / 10


Ask yourself what you want out of basketball video game.  Any demand you have, any want, desire, and lust.  The answer to everything is NBA Live 2003.


Of course, this statement has to be tempered by the fact that the last time I played an Electronic Arts basketball game was 1993. And the only other recent b-ball game I’ve played is NBA Inside Drive 2002 for Xbox.  As such, maybe I’m not the most qualified to write a review on Live 2003, but I sure as hell had (and continue to have) fun with it – dunking the AI competition or trashing all human opponents.  (Or at least, bitch and whine about losing to them.)


nba-live-2003-gc-1.jpg (55541 bytes)          nba-live-2003-gc-2.jpg (49805 bytes)


Right off the bench, Live 2003 offers some pretty sweet visuals.  The animation is particularly good, with innumerable shot types, crossovers, dunks, lay-ups, and dives.  Basically, it’s a treat to watch and manages to avoid repetition.  Unfortunately, something that does suffer from repetition is the commentary (which is otherwise very good) .  Often on one run down the court, the commentary repeats itself once like its buying time trying to sort out what to say next.  On the upside to this, the commentary sometimes acts as a good way to gauge what will happen next or what tactics should be adopted to shutdown the AI offense.  It doesn’t actually say, “Hey Stupid!  Go Zone!” but that’s the effect when the commentary repeats itself.


Control is astounding in comparison to EA’s 1993 effort on the Genesis!  (After ten years this should be a given.)  All the buttons on the controller are used and to be unstoppable you have to have a good handle on what every button does.  But most notable is the “freestyle” control with the C-stick.  This allows some wicked dribbling and jab moves that, when used effectively, can cut through a defense like a hot knife through warm pig fat – only with more style.  New players can get by just using the shoot and pass buttons, but they’ll have way more fun when the control is totally mastered.  Nothing like nailing an allie-oop to really drive that point home.





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The chance to master the control can be had through the cool Practice mode, which is just you, an empty gym, and a basketball.  It’s strange, but I found myself in Practice mode quite a bit.  When you don’t have the mental (or physical) energy to play a couple of games, it’s great to be able to just shoot some hoops without worrying about the score, rules, or having the computer AI make you feel insecure.


The AI puts up a stiff challenge for the most part (depending on the 


team comparison).  In my experience, blowouts were rare – most of my games ended with a point spread of 15 points – but there are times when it just seems that the AI can do no wrong, while your guys have a hard time not dribbling the ball off their feet.  (This can be frustrating but when you’re using the Grizzlies it should be expected.)  There is one AI quirk that can be hard to tolerate though: blocked shots.


On one run down the court I had five shots blocked and on the next one four shots.  If you haven’t deked out your defender chances are he’ll make you eat it.  However, this quirk can be used to your advantage.  90% of the time I didn’t control the player covering the man with the ball.  I let the teammate AI cover that guy because chances are good he’ll be able to block the shot.


nba-live-2003-gc-3.jpg (57165 bytes)          nba-live-2003-gc-4.jpg (44726 bytes)


The trademarked “Features and Extras Out the Wazoo” of EA sports games returns as well.  Name it or think it, EA has probably jammed it into Live 2003.  Game modes include Season, Franchise, Play-Offs and 1-on-1.  There is also the chance for hardcore gamers to get their hands dirty with Team Management to trade and create players, etc.  For casual gamers or anal retentive basketball fans, Live 2003 has a plethora of variables and settings to tweak to make the experience as arcade-like or "real" as they like.  The only aspect missing are the Player Cards (found in EA's other sports titles) to imbue special powers, etc. but they aren’t missed.


NBA Live 2003 is a great basketball game, with plenty of action and strategy for all types of players.  The atmosphere is great, the control awesome, the challenge solid, and the eye-candy sweet.  Minor issues aside, NBA Live 2003 is a worthy purchase for basketball fans.


- Omni

(December 19, 2002)

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