NBA Live 06 Xbox 360
Published by EA Sports
Developed by EA Sports
Release Date: Out Now
NBA Live 06, an introduction.
Whilst the NBA Live series has never been as popular as some of the other EA Sports range it's certainly popular in its own right and a firm favourite with NBA fans. It's a welcome sight then to see the series appear for the launch of the Xbox 360 and visually speaking it's a game that certainly doesn't disappoint. However whilst it doesn't exactly play a perfect game of basketball, it's the lack of features that prevent the game from being anything special.
What's the game about?
NBA Live 06 is a next generation basketball game that looks great but is rather short on game modes. You can choose from Play Now (for those one-off exhibition games), Season (to play a single season) or Xbox Live where you can play ranked and unranked games. You can also create a player and attach him to a team of your choice.
What's good about the game?
Like Madden NFL 06, NBA Live 06 has a real wow effect the first time you play the game. The graphics really do look superb and the presentation on the whole is impressive. When the game first loads you're taken to a practice court where you can throw a few balls around and get a feel for the control system. You'll also get to play on the practice court whilst you wait for a game to load up. We mentioned in our review for FIFA 06 Road to FIFA World Cup how you could make tactical changes with the directional pad whenever the ball went out of play and this is a feature that has been also included in NBA Live 06 and it's rather useful here too.
What's not so good about the game?
The lack of game modes is the biggest problems with NBA Live 06. The choices to play an exhibition game, a one-off season or a single game (ranked or unranked) on Xbox Live really aren't enough and it will fail to hold your attention over the long term. There's also a suspect control system for the free throws. You're supposed to use the right analogue stick in a back and forth motion to throw the ball. I found it nigh on impossible to do this correctly and it essentially made it a waste of time for me having free throws in a game which is kind of annoying as you tend to get a lot of them. A more traditional button pressing method would have been less impressive but far more functional.
How does it look?
The visuals are definitely the highlight of NBA Live 06 if you're playing on a HD display. The game looks good on a standard TV but nowhere near as impressive. The quality of player models in particular is really something special. You can actually see the sweat trickling down the player's necks and shoulders in a very realistic manner. The quality of the courts, coaches and arenas is also impressive and when you play the game on a HD display you can really see that there is a massive leap in quality between what the current generation consoles and the Xbox 360 can do. The frame rate isn't as smooth as it could be at times (although it's never problematic) and there does seem to be some rough transitions between player animations during a game which should have been sorted out. On the whole though, it's a visual feast and is a good indication of the graphical quality that sports games are going to have over the next 4 or 5 years.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
The game commentary isn't subtitled but that's really all you can say against the game. All other details and information in the game are displayed in text so you'll have no problems at all. Of course it would have been great if the commentary had been subtitled as it adds to the atmosphere of the game but it certainly doesn't cause any problems by not being subtitled.
Like Madden NFL 06 and FIFA 06 Road to FIFA World Cup, NBA Live 06 really suffers from having a lack of game modes. It seems crazy that the game shipped without having a franchise mode as this is the mode that keeps gamers coming back for more. Having the option to play an exhibition game or a solitary season isn't really good enough for a single-player experience. The graphics certainly are something special, particularly when played in HD but the quality of the visuals alone aren't enough to keep you playing. The free throw controls really need to be sorted out too, as currently it's virtually impossible to do them correctly.
Overall Game Rating: 6.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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NBA Live 06 is graphically impressive but even if you ignore the rough animation transitions and frame rate dips you still have to contend with no franchise mode and a free throw system that just doesn't appear to work.