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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Sports

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

September 26, 2005

 

 

- Superstar abilities make players stand out a bit

- In-depth Dynasty mode

- Inclusion of NBA Live '95

 

 

- Superstars don't add as much as they should

- Outdated graphics and clunky interface

 

 

Review: NBA Street V3 (PS2)

Review: NBA Shootout 2004 (PS2)

Review: NBA Ballers (XB)

 

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NBA Live 06

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

Basketball fans are lucky Electronic Arts has yet to acquire any exclusive licensing deals, so they still have to compete to make a decent NBA title. So what have they done this year to prove themselves above the competition? As it turns out, not a whole lot, although it's still a decent game.

 

nba live 06 review          nba live 06 review

 

The biggest addition to NBA Live 06 are Superstars abilities. If they're good enough, certain players can be granted a series of offensive and defensive capabilities that can be used to overpower the other team. Naturally, these are going to be big name players like Shaquille O'Neal. On the offense side, Playmakers can deliver snazzy behind-the-back passes, High Flyers can pull off some cool dunks, Stoppers have excellent defensive skills, while Scorers can...well, in general, they score well. By holding down L1 and one of the face buttons, you can execute one of these special maneuvers. There's no limit on how many you can perform, but their practicality is sometimes questionable, as it is sometimes hard to really see those special powers put to use. Shooters may get off some sleek shots every once in awhile, but they're still capable of missing easy shots. I suppose this is done to balance out so Superstars don't entirely rule the game, but I can't help but get the feeling that it could've been executed better.

 

The gameplay is solid, offering a fair bit of depth in passing, dribbling, and shooting techniques. Amidst the usual customizable cameras, there are tons of options to tweak the gameplay, including changing the speed or decreasing foul frequency. The commentary during the regular game is provided by Marv Albert and Steve Kerr. While there's an impressive amount of dialogue, it sometimes sounds a bit off after accidentally making a shot from halfway across the court, Marv lamented the terrible lay-up. Huh?

 

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The usual quick-play and season modes are present, as well as All-Star games, shoot-outs and dunk contests (the latter of which feel are redundant in face of NBA Street's much flashier competition, but it's nice that they're there, especially with the commentary by Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson. Would-be managers will warm up quickly with the Dynasty Mode, allowing you to manage a team through a whole season of NBA play. The first weeks of the seasons are for hiring assistant 

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coaches, trainers, and talent scouts, where you attempt to get the best staff within your budget. During the training season, you can tweak your team's focus to offense, defense, or athleticism. The tweaking is a little vague, and more control over specifics stats on specifics players would've been nice. Scouts are used to gather more accurate statistics about players you may want to draft. Unfortunately, the interface and presentation in Dynasty Mode leave much to be desired. Would it be too hard to put pictures with the people you hire, to give them some semblance of identity? Does everything need to be communicated through e-mails, which can only be read through a clunky interface? And why does EA have it in their minds that basketball fans only like rap and refuse to license a variety of music?

 

nba live 06 review          nba live 06 review

 

Even though NBA Live 06 apparently uses a new rendering engine, the graphics are pretty average. The character models aren't particularly good looking, although they look fine at a distance. The action only chugs along at 30 FPS and tends to chop up in

wide shots. While some of the reflections are nice, there's a bit of polygon tear around the paint, which is somewhat distracting. Comparing these visuals to EA's own NBA Street, which looks much nicer and runs smoother, NBA Live 06 comes up a little short. (In all fairness, NBA Street is only rendering about half the number of players on the court, but that's still no excuse for a game to simply look adequate this late in the PS2's life cycle./0

 

As an interesting bonus, EA includes a "Retro Mode," which is an emulated version of NBA Live 95. Naturally, it feels a little sloppy, and it's nothing you'd really want to play unless you're feeling particularly nostalgic, but it's a nice touch. Unfortunately, the rosters from the day aren't available, and it's a little unfortunate they didn't pick a more classic game like Bulls vs. Blazers and the NBA Playoffs.

 

All around, NBA Live 06 is a fairly solid game, even if the tweaks don't really add as much as they should. The online play is a nice inclusion, but once again, it will most likely be shut off by around the time the next game comes out. Like most sports games, there's only very little here other than roster updates, but NBA Live 06 won't disappoint fans, even if it won't particularly impress them.

 

- Kurt Kalata

(October 23, 2005)

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