NBA Live 08 Wii
Published by: EA Sports
Developed by: EA Sports
Release Date: Out Now
The EA Sports games have, so far, done a good job of utilising the unique control system that the Wii offers. NBA Live 08 is the latest game to arrive on the system and, for the most part, the game is enjoyable. The controls do take a little getting used to but they are quite good once you’re accustomed to them. There are some problems with the game however and this does prevent it from being anything special.
Taking a quick look at the game modes confirms that once again, Wii gamers have to make do with a game that has fewer modes than the versions that have appeared on other formats. The modes on offer are Play Now, NBA Live 08 Party (which allows 2-4 players to take part in 3-point shootouts and Slam Dunk contests), All-Star Weekend, Season, Play Offs, Superstar Challenge and Online (allowing for an online game with up to eight players taking part). The most glaring omission here is the Dynasty mode. You do get to play through a season with the NBA team of your choice but that’s small consolation for those who were looking forward to playing through twenty-five seasons and having full control of the team of their choice.
Other Wii EA Sports titles such as Madden NFL 08 and FIFA 08 have provided extensive tutorials to help you get used to the game’s control scheme. Disappointingly, NBA Live 08 doesn’t include any tutorials. You do receive the odd piece of tutorial advice but you are forced to either read the manual or pause the game and access the in-game text FAQ if you want to learn the controls. This seems a very sloppy way of going about things. Once you’ve learnt the controls the game is actually quite good. Passing is carried out with the A button or you can press the directional pad in the direction of the player you want to pass to. Blocks, steals, jump shots, dunks and lay-ups are all performed with logical movements of the Wii remote. I particularly like the motion-sensing controls for the free-throws which feel much better than using an analogue stick or pressing a button like you would in the PS3 and 360 versions. The game also supports the simplified Family Play control scheme (which uses the Wii remote only). The Family Play controls (only available if you don’t attach the nunchuk) are OK if a young member of the family wants to play the game but I can’t imagine anyone else wanting to use them.
The Wii version of NBA Live 08 does disappoint in some respects. The AI seems to be hopeless when it comes to defending and this does take a fair amount of challenge out of the game. There are too many steals in the game and it’s possible to perform an unnatural amount. In the 360 and PS3 versions of the game I didn’t find it particularly easy to steal the ball but on the Wii version I seem to be able to do it for fun. The NBA Live 08 Party mode is disappointing considering what was done with the party modes in Madden NFL 08 and FIFA 08. The Slam Dunk competitions are also ridiculously easy and offer no challenge. Whilst it’s great to be able to play online, it’s disappointing that there are no online leagues.
Quite a few Wii EA Sports titles appear to have simply been PlayStation 2 ports in regards to their graphical quality and the same can be said of NBA Live 08. Still, at least the frame rate remains smooth throughout and the game doesn’t appear to suffer from any performance issues. The animations are a little rough and don’t always appear to be as smooth as they should. The presentation of the game is generally OK. It’s pretty much business as usual for deaf gamers as the game commentary and a few other pieces of non-essential dialogue aren’t subtitled but the tutorial messages (the few that there are) are all in text. Deaf gamers won’t have any real problems with the game.
It’s difficult to view NBA Live 08 on the Wii as anything more than a decent start. I had few problems with the game’s control system but the lack of modes and some AI problems (particularly in regards to defending) prevent the game from being noteworthy. Online leagues, a Dynasty mode and a more competent AI would have made the game much more appealing. It would have also been great to have seen the game take advantage of the graphical capabilities of the Wii.