NBA Live 2005
Where in God’s name, do the developers get their inspiration to make another update year after year? They try their best to give us some necessary changes so that even the owners of last year’s installment go out and buy it. But this time it feels like they’ve reached the sealing. NBA Live 2005, it rimes lovely but does it play so too? And even more important: is it worth your money?
You don’t even have to play NBA Live 2005 to know what they have in store for us this year. A quick glimpse at the back of the cover gives you a nice idea of what to expect. This time around we found the next features:•EA Sports Freestyle Air:
Giving you some new dunks, lay-ups and the ability to adjust your dunk in mid-air•NBA All-Star Weekend:
You aren’t limited to the all-star game as you’re able to play the rookie game, join in on the three point shootout and even have a go in the dunk contest•Build your own dynasty:
Lead your team to success during multiple seasons•EA Sports Freestyle Control:
They’ve added some new authentic moves•10 man Freestyle:
Ten different players were used for the motion capturing giving the animations a more realistic touch. New is the addition of mid-air collisions
The new dunks and lay-ups are indeed a bit nicer to look at but the ability to adjust your dunk in mid-air isn’t really new. Last year’s version had this option too, but EA didn’t put it in the spotlight then. The All-Star Weekend on the other hand is a welcome breeze through the NBA Live series. Where you were only able to play the All-Star game last year, you can now participate in all the games of the weekend such as: the three point shootout, the rookie game and even the dunk contest. This is probably the most interesting one. The principles of dunking are divided into three steps: the gather, the take-off and the finish. For each step you’ll have a choice between four different moves that can be tweaked with the L1 and/or R1 button. To make it even more interesting you’ll be able to give yourself an alley-oop. Hit the ball with a volleyball like smash against the shot clock, catch it in mid air and finish off with a 360 slam dunk. Sounds hard huh? Well it is. Your patience and perseverance will be put to the test but once you manage to perform a dunk like this, the satisfaction is assured. The slam dunk contest is a nice addition to the game and may already convince players to go out and buy it. I had hoped for an equal dunking system in a normal match, but sadly this ain’t possible yet; perhaps something to work on for next year’s installment?
The building of your team hasn’t changed a lot. You’ll get some messages on your PDA from time to time, giving you useful information about player transactions, injured players and statistics from the league. But other than that it’s pretty much the same as last year. The real die-hard fans will play several seasons in a row but for a country boy like myself it’s “over and done with” after playing one season straight. The Freestyle control, something EA is (and rightly so) very proud about, has been tweaked a bit too with new moves that on the other hand don’t put the game on another level. Certain players will be able to perform signature moves while the majority of ballers will be stuck with the usual stuff. A minus of last year’s version was the inability to catch passes while running. Well EA has listened to your complaints because your player will be able to catch a pass while running. There is however some work to do. The catching while running will only work during certain occasions when it’s not really necessary. When you really want to perform a fast break, the player will mostly stop for a while in order to catch the ball and give the opposing team the opportunity to catch up with you. Result: fast break failed.
The ten men freestyle, which gives the animations a more realistic feel, has actually been updated the most. The addition of mid-air collisions makes for some interesting new gameplay moments. It can be a good thing, you can force your defender to make a foul. But it also has a negative impact; the difficulty level for instance is a lot higher than last year. The implementation of the one-time-stop in Live 2004 was a really helpful move to get passed your defender. But with the addition of mid-air collisions this year, it will result in offensive fouls more often making the one-time-stop less effective and creating an even higher difficulty level.
The graphics have also been renewed here and there. The new lighting technique, that’s used in most EA titles this year, brings along a little boost in the graphical department. The player interactions after a foul, block shot or dunk have been cut this time around. The reason behind it, isn’t clear to me but perhaps most players skipped them so there wasn’t any use to keep those intermissions. The sound is great as usual. The commentary does its job perfectly and the commentators hardly ever fall into repetition. The addition of some new commentators for the dunk contest and three point shootout offers a nice diversity.
NBA Live 2005 doesn’t bring a lot more to the game, aside from the new All-Star Weekend that is. Therefor the score has been narrowed down a bit. If you’ve got last year’s installment, than renting Live 2005 is the message. The lack of an online option in the European version doesn’t make things better. I’m very curious what EA Sports will come up with next year as the feeling that they’ve reached the limit is getting bigger and bigger each year. It may be better to implement an online option, giving players the choice to update the statistics, team trades and changes in jerseys by simply downloading them. This will save us gamers a lot of money and EA Sports won’t have to bother milking out the NBA Live cow. With pain in my heart I have to draw the conclusion that sport simulations are threatened with extinction. The innovation should be searched for elsewhere. EA Big titles such as NBA Street are the future. The devs are able to experiment a bit here and there, but with sport simulations it’s rather hard to mess with the main formula. I truly hope my perception is completely off and that EA Sports will prove the opposite next year. Lets keep our fingers crossed!