NBA Live 2003
|a game by||NuFX, Inc., and Electronic Arts Canada|
|Platforms:||XBox, PC, Playstation 2|
|User Rating:||5.6/10 - 5 votes|
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|See also:||NBA Games, Sport Games|
We've traditionally been uncommonly generous to EA's annual basketball outing, regularly saddling it with all manner of plaudits. Our enthusiasm has been mainly fuelled by the realisation that it offers a comprehensive representation of a game that we are largely unfamiliar with, replete with all the razzamatazz associated with high-profile American sports. We can safely say that it's a slam-dunking, hoop-busting extravaganza. But do any of us ever play it? Do we bollocks. No sooner is the game reviewed than the disc is tossed aside like so much used pornography.
This year is different though. This year we're not going to get suckered into fawning over it just because it looks good, has plenty of options and delivers a game somewhere in the region of playable. All of those things are true of NBA Live 2003, but none of them are enough to sustain anything more than a few hours of interest.
If the true test of a sports game is its two-player mode, then NBA fails. No matter how realistic the stadia are, how accurate the players' faces look, how seamless - and occasionally amusing - the commentary is, no amount of gloss can justify a game that basically involves a tedious cycle of running up to a basket, sticking the ball in it, then watching your opponent do the same until you're told to stop. You might as well just flip a coin.
The crux of the problem is that it's nigh on impossible to defend, with your armoury restricted to little more than a half-hearted lunge or the occasional leap. For the man with the ball, a swift burst of turbo is usually enough to secure yourself a reasonable vantage point from which to shoot, an activity that requires little or no skill other than the ability to press a button.
It Doesn't Make It Ok
But hey, you bleat, that's what the sport of basketball is like, a quickfire high-scoring fastmoving game. Correct, but that still doesn't justify spending $30 to recreate it on a monitor. Anyway, it's clearly more suited to the big screen, and the game shows its console roots in a sloppy fashion, with on-screen instructions urging you to do something or other with the second analogue stick.
Ulitimately, the game isn't too bad in short bursts, and nothing more. And even if you do want to own a basketball game, seeking out a budget version of a previous incarnation would be a shrewder move, as the data updates will only be of concern to aficionados of the sport. NBA Live 2003 may well be the best basketball game on the PC, but that's the equivalent of being the best-looking girl in Wales.