Title: NBA Live 2001
Big Word: Courteous
Strap: See, a 5’11", 14 stone deskbound git can play basketball after all.
Hi Hoop fans, Iiiiiiii’m John Walker, alongside me is Jo DeBlurtap. We’re here today to witness the clash between two titans: EA’s NBA Live 2001 and a grumpy games critic. We’ll be guiding you through this evening’s entertainment by repeating what has just happened even though you were watching, and by disagreeing with each other about certain rule violations that nobody really understands.
Yes indeedy, it’s that time of the eternity again when EA release another years’ worth of basketball into our favourite shop. And the question, for the sixth time, is: is it any better than last years? And the answer is, hip, hip, hooray… Yes!
Improving upon last year’s, the 2001 edition updates almost every feature. The most noticeable difference are the graphics, which are quite stunning. For the amount of stuff happening on court at once, and the intricacies of the details (the crystal reflections in the sheen of the court floor being an especially notably example), NBA Live looks surprisingly impressive.
Once again, every detail is adaptable, from the angle of camera view to the volume of instant replays to what constitutes a foul. Of course, such adaptability brings with it the perennial EA niggle of overly complicated menus – sections inside sections inside sections become overwhelming and certainly too much to wade through for a game of basketball.
Which leads us on to the inevitable moan. Gameplay. It does feel unfair to fault anyone for this, but frankly with ten accurately detailed humanoids running about at high speed, with only one under your control at any one time, it does become nightmarishly difficult to retain any sense of involvement at times. In fact, when in defence the computer plays you players so much more productively than you ever could, and soon you start to feel a real irrelevance to the game. Get back on the attack again, and you’re there. Defence, computer controlled. And back and forth throughout. But this is purely because of the frenetic pace of a sport played on a ridiculously small court, not because of terrible programming. God just didn’t intend some sports to work as PC games. (Especially rugby).
The inclusion of a multiplayer mode takes away some of the moaning, removing slightly more computer involvement, and removing it entirely if you opt for a one on one, or get enough people playing on your court. This is a superb idea, really giving back the control of the game to the players, though at the speed it moves, your average 56k modem is going to be exactly that – average.
Overall, EA have done a decent job. Every tiny detail of the NBA is here,
with realistic face models of every player from every team (and some going back
to the 50s), and some excellent, if slightly delayed commentary. But is this
really a sport that works on a PC? We remain unconvinced.
Slightly disappointing is the quality of the hiphop soundtrack on this year’s release. Last year saw George Clinton, Naughty By Nature and Run DMC amongst contributors. But this latest sees a not great selection of slightly tired sounding tracks including such excitement as Montell Jordan. Ooh. It’s catchy, but it ain’t in da hood. Innit.
Verdict: Perhaps for an untranslatable sport, this is a very good translation, with a welcome internet play.
Developer: EA Sports
Minimum System: P 200, 32Mb RAM, 100Mb HD, 4Mb Graphics card
Recommended: PII 450, 64Mb RAM, 570Mb HD, 16Mb 3D card, gamepad with 10+ buttons
Web Address: http://nbalive2001.ea.com