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vs. NBA 2K9
NBA Live 09 (left); NBA 2K9 (right)
With exclusivity deals by both respective
publishers in football (Electronic Arts) and baseball (2K Sports),
there’s still a fierce competition between the two companies for
bragging rights as the best National Basketball Association game for the
Xbox 360: EA’s NBA Live 09 versus 2K Sports’ NBA 2K9. While both are
worthy title contenders, as in the NBA, there can be only one true
champion. After breaking them down in the following categories, a
singular title holder will be chosen.
GAMEPLAY Although NBA Live 09 may be the more comprehensive game, featuring
an intense amount of control over many facets of an actual game of
basketball with Defensive Lockdown, Quick-Strike Ankle Breakers,
Signature Playcalling and Pick and Roll Control, the average hoops gamer
won’t implement much of these available features into play during the
course of a typical game. More advanced and hardcore
basketball gamers will appreciate NBA Live
09’s complexity on the court.
Free-throw shooting is much easier in NBA Live 09, relying on a button
timing schematic, than in the thumbstick-controlled charity stripe shot
in NBA 2K9. And those free throws can be very important in a close
contest, so having a much easier shooting setup definitely improves the
chances of not wasting those
precious free points, something that happens in NBA 2K9.
However, even without matching the amount of playcalling features or
easier free-throw shot of its rival, NBA 2K9 still plays a better
on-court game of NBA basketball.
ADVANTAGE: NBA 2K9
Easily the most one-sided competition is the visual presentation aspect,
where NBA 2K9 is far and away the more graphically excellent game, with
more fluid and lifelike animation of the respective NBA players on the
court. Playing NBA 2K9 almost gives one the impression of watching an
actual NBA broadcast on television. NBA Live 09 doesn’t come close to
the stellar player appearance of its competitor, with the NBAers all
looking similar to each other with very little of the defining qualities
there is in NBA 2K9.
Where NBA Live 09 has a slight advantage is in the sound department.
Even though NBA 2K9 appears just as good as a NBA telecast with gamers
as an outside observer, NBA Live 09 gives gamers an overwhelming sense
of being at the game in the stands with completely realistic crowd
reactions and cheering. That shouldn’t be a surprise to any gamer, as
EA’s sports games have always been superior to its competitors as far as
providing ultra-realistic, roar-of-the-crowd sounds (including cheers,
jeers and even some singing). NBA 2K9’s crowds too often sound like
nothing more than white noise in the background.
Neither game stands out particularly with its announcing tandem and
courtside reporters. NBA Live 09 has the advantage of the ESPN branding
integrated into it, including ESPN radio news updates. However,
inexplicably, the updates are seemingly always a day behind with
yesterday’s news, while the news crawl at the bottom of NBA 2K9 reflects
the current sports news of the day. Both titles feature an impressive
constant roster updating that reflects the actual current rosters that
particular day (with trades and injuries accounted for in lineups) of
the NBA teams.
ADVANTAGE: NBA 2K9
If gamers have a passion for world basketball, then NBA Live 09 is their
game, with a full FIBA World Championship mode with 24 international
teams vying for the true world championship. That’s pretty much the only
extra offering that EA’s game has over its 2K Sports counterpart.
NBA 2K9 has a whole package of modes and mini-games that is reminiscent
of another EA basketball franchise, NBA Street. If gamers enjoy the
“street” aspect of hoops, then NBA 2K9 has it covered in its NBA
Blacktop mode with a three-point shootout, dunk contest, games of 21 or
even pickup games, all held at one of the world’s most famous hoops
meccas, New York City’s Rucker Park.
So, there’s the choice: a globetrotting mode that has teams filled with
players most gamers have never heard of, or the chance to partake in
some greatly entertaining “street” hoops action. This reviewer selects
the street scene each and every time.
ADVANTAGE: NBA 2K9
Both titles have strong online modes, with generally smooth gameplay
once an Xbox Live game begins. NBA Live 09 has Total Team Control online
play, with 10 players able to take control of a singular player on the
court. NBA 2K9’s answer is the 5-on-5 online Off Ball Control. And there
are online leagues for each respective game. So no one game stands above
the rim over the other with respect to online gameplay. However, NBA
Live 09 has a much cleaner and easier-to-navigate interface, and
connecting to other online gamers is more streamlined and somewhat
quicker than can be done in NBA 2K9. ADVANTAGE: NBA Live 09
AND THE CHAMPION IS…
With much better gameplay and presentation values along with more extras
and modes that gamers will actually want to play and a good online
setup, a closely contested battle reminiscent of a classic NBA title
series has NBA 2K9 hoisting the trophy over its head as the best NBA
game of 2008.