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NBA Live 2002
Score: 92%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Sports
Media: 1/0
Players: 1 - 8 (multi-tap)
Genre: Sports

Graphics & Sound:
Say what you will about EA - they always seem to get a certain polish on their sports games that many other companies never come close to. So why should NBA Live 2002 be any different?

If you've played last year's version, then you can skip down to the next part of this review because everything looks and sounds just the same. There are a few minor clean-ups, but 2001 pushed the system in so many good ways that even the minor flaws are forgivable.

Everything about NBA Live feels right, the players move smoothly (well, about as smoothly as any character can on the PS), the ball acts like a ball - it's just good stuff all around. This is as good as basketball can get on the PS. The game even sounds great, from the commentary, to the background 'pump up' music (provided by groups such as The Chemical Brothers). I especially liked the crowds and their reactions - everything felt right.

First of all, I would like to welcome our friends who have skipped down to this section - welcome back to the review. Anyway, to get back to our little tour...

Sure it looks and sounds good - but how does it play? First, let me give you a little background about my basketball game experience. To tell you the truth, I really haven't been much of a basketball fan. I don't know what it is about the game, but I just never got into them enough to become a regular watcher. Most of my experience comes from my roommate and his brother, but aside from that I found NBA Live enjoyable, even as a non-fan.

Like the graphics, except for a few AI changes it is just like last year's version. While it is not perfect gameplay wise, it still does an excellent job at making everything feel as good as it can. If I had to pick one thing that I did not like - it would have to be something that occurs in every sports game. The computer has this uncanny knack for getting just what it needs to catch up or beat you. While I wouldn't call this cheating, it's still a little disheartening when it happens and has been known to cause very audible litanies of curses (just ask any gamer's friend, family member...).

The single player mode offers both Exhibition and Season games, as well as the chance to go one on one with Michael Jordan. You can also hold practice and participate in a 3-point shootout. Of course, nothing beats a nice multi-player game with up to eight players.

Again, this was my first time to really sit down and play a basketball game that didn't involve the ball catching on fire or a square ball and stick figure players - but I found things just tricky enough to be a challenge, but easy enough that you're not pulling your hair out. One of the options I found very interesting was the 'Keep Scores Close' option which gives the losing team better chances at rebounding and making shots. Players looking for a bit of a challenge can complete the NBA Live challenges to earn in-game rewards such as super players.

Game Mechanics:
I'll admit, when I first started playing NBA Live I found the controls to be a bit overwhelming -especially since I'm more used to one button hit sports games, but once I got used to everything, I loved it. The players are very responsive, and never fall a step behind to cause things to be unplayable. Well, since I really cannot think of anything else to write, I will just leave things at that.

PS2: The options don't help the game out all that much, but if you are playing the PSX version on the PS2, my only question is: WHY?

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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