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ups: Nice presentation, Create-a-player mode, musical score
downs: Framerate is unstable, free throws are impossible, characters look like mannequins, no franchise mode

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NBA Live 06 Review
game: NBA Live 06
two star
posted by: Chris Martin
publisher: Electronic Arts
developer: EA Canada
date posted: 12:11 PM Fri Dec 9th, 2005
last revision: 01:09 PM Fri Dec 9th, 2005

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Click to read.At first glance Live 06 is simply fantastic: we\'re treated to a spin around of a virtual basketball court while the rim assembles itself, and the players digitize in. Then we pick up the controller and realize we can play a 1-on-1 mock-half court game. Live 06 keeps score. You can swap out players if you feel inclined. Then, enough of that, it\'s time to play the actual game. And here is where it all breaks down.

NBA Live 06 for the Xbox 360 is all flair and no substance. And on a system that is turning the tides in high definition gaming, online play, and graphical excellence, this is unacceptable. NBA Live 06 is, at its roots, a case of mistaken identity. It has all the flash and presentation of a top-notch EA production, but in truth it lacks all the facets of being a solid basketball experience. One can easily mistake this game as the best of the NBA lineup (the other game is 2K Games\' NBA 2K6) simply because it has EA\'s logo on it. Don\'t be fooled, this is not the basketball game to buy. It is lackluster, a rushed port of Live 06 for the Xbox. With more effort, and less interest on capitalizing on the 360 launch, EA\'s NBA Live 06 could have been excellent.

You\'ll notice, at first, that the players all look fantastic. But then, as you begin the tip off, there\'s something wrong with the camera. That is, it\'s so far away it looks like you\'re playing with ants. Why is that? Okay, we can fix this. The game gives us the ability to move the camera in closer and swap it around the court. Okay problem fixed. Then you realize that the buttons are a little sticky, that is, if you hold the pass button too long (a fraction of a second too long) you\'ll automatically pass to another player. Even if he\'s in the back-court and you aren\'t, even if he\'s out of bounds still. The buttons feel a little touchy: unrefined. But then the worst problem happens, and I couldn\'t believe it: slowdown.

Yes, the game has a hefty bit of slowdown - enough to disrupt your A-game. And it doesn\'t help that the players seem to be clunky moving around the court, like they don\'t know where they are.

Though the player models animate awkwardly, it\'s their faces, their lifeless faces that really creep me out. Though detailed, with sweat running down their noses, they look like dolls. And it has to do with their mouths, eyelids, and brows not moving. Sometimes in the pre or post-game you\'ll see one or two players exchange words with their coach, but overall they never express anything on their faces. Seeing it after playing NBA 2K6 made me quickly switch back. The graphics aren\'t as pretty and the presentation isn\'t as crisp in 2K6, but, goddamnit, they move their faces.

If you think you can deal with the clunky player models, lifeless faces, and shoddy framerate, and if you happen to be playing on a high definition TV (this game looks like poop on standard TVs) then you might be dismissing my comments of Live 06. Don\'t. There still aren\'t enough features to warrant buying a game.

The problems with Live 06 don\'t stop here. Live 06 has the worst gameplay mechanic ever in a basketball game: impossible free throw shooting. In other words, it\'s the best feature ever implemented to make you throw your new $60 controller at a brick wall. Free throw shooting is impossible and there is no salvation by reading the manual. You have to press back on the left stick and then forward at the correct speed to sink a shot. I literally sunk one shot over the course of many hours of play. Doing it right once helps diddly for the hundreds of times you\'ll be doing it. I was so ecstatic when I sunk the ball I\'m like, \"I figured it out!\" and then tried it again only to miss, and miss, and miss. The worst part is that the game doesn\'t give you any feedback whether you pressed too hard or too slowly, too much left or too much right. There\'s no mode in which to practice so you have to go into a game and suffer through bad framerates, lifeless faces, and clunky player models to even try to get better.

And to top that pile of errors is the lack of a franchise mode. I feel a loss of words that this mode doesn\'t exist in Live 06. It should. Franchise should be the center of any sports game. NBA Live 06 is a classic example of judging a book by its cover-but having the opposite end-result.

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