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- Freestyle Superstars feature differentiates the players nicely from each other
- Typical EA-quality Dynasty mode
- Online play also includes tournaments, 3-point shootouts and slam contests



- Considering that the graphics engine was supposed to be all-new, visuals are not impressive at all
- Can get laggy online when you’re doing a bit too much hot-dogging dribbling
- A.I.-assisted defense can get lazy when it’s time to rotate defensive coverage



Review: NBA Live 06 (PS2)

Review: NBA Ballers (XB)

Review: NBA Jam (XB)

Action Figure: Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony



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NBA Live 06

Score: 8.3 / 10


nba live 06         nba live 06


The NBA Live franchise has had its ups and downs for Electronic Arts, bouncing around in its quality level over the years, but more often than not has been able to claim itself the undisputed king of the hardwood video games. It has faced a particularly stiff challenge from the Sega Sports/2K Sports basketball franchise the last few years, however, and may have its biggest challenge for its supremacy yet in the form of NBA 2K6.

Fortunately for EA, NBA Live 06 provides a very good basketball package, including a much more emphasized focus on the NBA’s best players with the distinct Freestyle Superstar control, a well-designed offensive controller setup, and a great plethora of online game features. NBA Live 06 proves that EA might not be as dominant as it once was with its basketball video game, but it sure displays the pride of a champion with new features and improved gameplay to go along with its




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deep Dynasty mode as has been perfected by EA Sports and simply unequalled.

Freestyle control is an excellent facet of NBA Live’s gameplay. Using the right thumbstick on the Xbox controller, you can perform moves, such as an Allen Iverson crossover dribble that will break the ankles of a defender, which are more effective based on the superstar status of the player. The better the player, the more


effective the freestyle move is. EA took it a step further with NBA 06’s Freestyle Superstars freestyle control.

Players are categorized based on particular court strength. There are power players, highflyers, playmakers, scorers, shooters, and stoppers. By using the left trigger and tapping one of the controller’s buttons, a player will pull off a Freestyle Superstar move, and based on how much of a NBA superstar the individual player is, the easier it will be to pull off a move. Steve Francis will soar to the hoop with amazing dunks. Shaq will overwhelm any defender trying in vain to stop the Diesel from slamming down a monster slam. Ben Wallace will block and rebound with the ferocity that have made him the most feared defender in the NBA. What Freestyle Superstar really does is give NBA 06’s players a real identifiable personality and court persona that matches the actual player and brings a more realistic gameplay to the virtual hardwood.

Along with the new Freestyle Superstar style of play, there is a renewed focus on a more offensive basketball game. The new graphics engine is designed to enhance up-tempo basketball with fast breaks, and it is easier to drop the ball in the bucket with more regularity. The offensive controls are well-designed too, totally responsive and letting you decide, when you have the ball in your hands, what control should be used at a particular time. If you have a defensive presence in your way, you can pull up for a jumper by hitting the ”B” button. But if you have an unimpeded path to basket, hitting the “X” button takes you and your player to the net for a lay-up or a slamming dunk.

That’s not to say that defense is completely devoid, however. You still have to work for your team’s baskets, especially if playing against teams such as the Detroit Pistons who are renowned for their defensive prowess. But overall, the A.I.-assisted defense isn’t completely at an All-Star level. There are times that the defense doesn’t rotate to a defensively advantageous position when it should, giving opponents an easier (and sometimes completely clear) path to the net.


nba live 06          nba live 06

Speaking of the graphics engine, while it may be a much better engine in regards to portraying a more fast-break, breakneck-paced basketball game, it isn’t impressive in its aesthetics. The crowds are just downright horrible-looking. It looks like every night is Pixelation Night at the particular arena you’re playing at, with every spectator getting a free case of the jaggies with admittance. The players are better in their appearance, but again fail to impress, considering this is a supposedly new graphics engine. Animation, however, is done well, especially when performing Freestyle Superstar moves that really differentiate each player from one another just as they are in real life.

Again making its annual appearance is a strong collection of high-quality modes, including the Dynasty mode typical to all EA sports titles that is unrivaled in its excellence in the sports gaming world. The Dynasty mode features the new player evolution, where you “see” your created player evolve from a green rookie learning the life of an NBA player to a savvy veteran. Your goal is to progress from a rookie into a superstar, complete with a distinct set of Freestyle Superstar moves. There is also a season mode, a playoff mode, 1on1, a Freestyle Challenge, and a favorite of mine, the NBA All-Star Weekend mode.

In the All-Star Weekend mode, you get to play the four events that are part of every NBA All-Star Weekend: the Rookie Challenge, 3-Point Shootout, the Slam Dunk Contest and of course, the All-Star game itself.

Announcing all the action during the All-Star Weekend is Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith. During the other modes of NBA Live 06, Marv Albert and new analyst Steve Kerr call and comment all the gameplay. While the commentary and calls can be repetitive and not always on the mark, Albert and Kerr do a professional, television presentation-sounding performance.

By far the best mode, if you have Xbox Live, is the online play of NBA Live 06. Not only can you play standard games against online competition, you can also join tournaments, slam competitions and 3-point shootouts against other Xbox Live players. There are some instances where, especially when you’re trying to execute a Freestyle move, the gameplay can get bogged with some lagging, but generally EA has done a great job with its online setup in its current sports game crop, and NBA Live 06 is another shining example of that excellent online presence.

The new graphics engine is anything but impressive and the A.I.-assisted defense could be smarter, but NBA Live 06 still can claim to be ( arguably) the best NBA basketball video game title versus NBA 2K6. Fans of the EA style of sports gaming will be once again thoroughly enjoy shooting the rock with NBA 06, while the smaller majority may prefer NBA 2K6. Still, it’s safe to say that despite not being an unbeatable dynasty amongst NBA video games anymore, NBA Live 06 still provides the deepest NBA basketball gaming experience around, and the many different online offerings via Xbox Live will be especially attractive to online sports gamers looking to satisfy their basketball jones in cyberspace.

- Lee Cieniawa

(November 8, 2005)


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