NBA Live '98 Review

For PlayStation

Rating: Awesome
  If you're a fan of basketball games, you must own this 
game.  EA Sports has improved the game technically and 
statistically without losing what made NBA Live so popular 
in the first place- the strategic, deep, and extremely 
entertaining gameplay.  Yes, the classic NBA Live gameplay 
is back and better than ever.  The gameplay is so simple, 
yet so complicated, and it eats every other basketball game 
on the market for breakfast in my opinion.  NBA Live '98 
also packs even more depth than previous NBA Live's, thanks 
to finely balanced difficulty levels and tons more 
statistics and features than you ever thought possible.  
As great as NBA Live '96 and NBA Live '97 were, they were 
always lacking one thing- the perfect difficulty level.  
One difficulty level would be too easy, but if you took it 
the next level up, it would be too hard.  There was no 
comfortable middle ground.  NBA Live '98 fixes this with the
most carefully-balanced difficulty level of all time- the 
Superstar level.  Not too easy, not too hard, the Superstar 
difficulty level is just right.  I realize that this only 
applies to my particular skill level, but anybody else who 
plays this game should also be able to find their perfect 
difficulty level since the gaps between each level are less 
than they used to be.  EA has also added tons more features 
to their already amazing (and best in the industry) feature 
package, including hot streaks and cold streaks, more 
specific injuries, the best stat package on the market, and 
even a daily news feature during seasons!  EA also added a 
three-point shootout mode which I found to be (somewhat 
surprisingly) very entertaining, with a simple set-up of 
going from eight players in one round, to four in the next, 
to the final two players shooting it out for the 
championship in the third and final round.  This set-up was 
the exact set-up I thought to myself that I was going to 
play out with my favorite players, and I was shocked and 
delighted that the game automatically uses the exact same 
set-up I had in my head.  The 3-point shootout mode is 
certainly no match for the regular game, but it's great fun 
in its own right and it is still keeping me coming back for 
more.  EA also improved the game's polygonal graphics to 
look much more life-like and impressive, made the crowd look
and sound much better, improved the dunks big time, and 
added four very cool new music tracks that play when you're 
going through the menus.  Funk-a-delic!  All of these 
elements combine to create one of the most enjoyable and 
satisfying basketball games of all time.  However, as 
awesome as it is, I didn't feel NBA Live '98 deserved a 
"WOW!" rating because of a few flaws.  The animation of a 
player spinning when he has the ball is noticeably choppy, 
and while the game's computer Artificial Intelligence (AI) 
is usually outstanding, the crunch time AI needs some 
serious work.  When the computer is down by three with ten 
seconds left in the game, they should be passing the ball 
around looking for the open man to shoot the game-tying 
three, not standing around doing nothing and then lobbing up
a meaningless two-pointer at the last second.  Regardless of
these flaws, NBA Live '98 is still an excellent basketball 
game, and it is much, much better than anything the 
competition has to offer.

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