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October 30, 2004
NBA Live 2005 - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
22/10/2004EA SportsEA Canada1-8GMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
625KBDolby Pro Logic IIYesNoNoneNo

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Can he block the shot?
Another Electronic Arts franchise and one, as with Madden, Tiger Woods and MLB, where Electronic Arts' domination, in sales at least, is unquestionable. Currently EA Sports' NBA Live is only being rivaled by Sega Sports' NBA 2K titles. Although Sega's titles haven't made it to Australia in recent years NBA 2K5 is apparently due out sometime this year through Take Two, although a date is still to be determined.

Overall, the gameplay in NBA Live 2005 remains largely unchanged from previous years, and why not. Besides one issue with the passing (which will be discussed a little later) this is probably the most accurate representation of the sport to date. Playing in offence of defense is tremendous fun and you'll never tire while playing this title.

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The 3-point shootout!
The gameplay still isn't perfect, however. The biggest complaint which I can level at NBA Live 2005 is that the players still won't take pass on the run! If you pass the ball the receiver literally has to pause, catch it and then keep running. This certainly breaks up the flow of the gameplay and given the emphasis on 'Freestyle Air' it shouldn't have been a stretch to fix this as well.

The biggest change to this years game is the ability to change your shot on the fly which EA are terming 'Freestyle Air'. If it looks like your shot will be blocked you can change it at the last moment to avoid the potential turnover. This works quite well and adds a bit more depth to the title while in the offensive end. EA Sports' have also added in a much large range of dunks. Other new additions are all minor with new special moves and animations which were captured with 10 players on the court for improved realism.

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Getting some massive air!
One of the big new features is the All-Star Weekend which includes a 3-point shootout as well as the much more impressive Slam Dunk Contest. The 3-point shootout is pretty straight forward as you take shots from different locations on the 3-point line. Much more exciting is the Slam Dunk contest. In this mode you have to perform the most spectacular dunks. Electronic Arts really have gone all out here to make it exciting as you can select your take-off point, what you do in the air and how to slam the ball through the hoop.

These game modes are great fun however it's the ability to fully control a team through the Dynasty mode that will keep you busy the longest as you must scout for rookies, and check your virtual PDA for latest league news, team information, special announcements to create a dynasty over a massive 25 years. This mode will keep you busy for weeks, if not months.

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Ben Wallace blocks the shot.
What the Australian, and other PAL territories, are missing from NBA Live 2005 is the online gameplay. With Europe fast becoming the gaming power in the world it remains bewildering that Electronic Arts don't fully support online gameplay. Reports from America, however, indicate some frame rate issues and lag when playing online, so perhaps there were some technical issues that caused problems in PAL territories (as well as the multitude of ISP setups in Europe!).

Graphics in NBA Live 2005 really are little short of spectacular. The animation on the players deserves particular mention as they move elegantly across the court. All the players move realistically with excellent transitions between moves. The stadiums, as far as I can tell from seeing them on TV, are realistically represented while the courts all have wonderful detail. The crowds are a little average, but I would rather the developers spend more processing power on the gameplay, main court and players. Speaking of the players there is some wonderful detail in this game. Everything including the clothing, faces, skin and tattoos are wonderfully re-created.

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Ready to slam the ball.
The commentary, which has been done by Marv Albert and Mike Fratello, is pretty good with a wide range of comments and pretty good accuracy to the action on screen. The music, as expected, is primarily hip-hop styled while the effects are solid and consist of boots squeaking and crowds cheering. This sound is backed up with Dolby Pro Logic II support which gives the game a pretty good sense of 'being there'.

Overall NBA Live 2005 is another solid game from Electronic Arts, and basketball fans are likely to get more then a few thrills despite the lack of online gameplay here. Should you hold off for Take Two to release Sega Sports NBA 2K5 which is apparently coming out at a lower price point? Typically I would say yes, however with still no firm date for Australia the release of that game is a little up in the air. Basketball fans will enjoy this title, that's a certainty.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSThe presentation is wonderful, but it's the animation that amazes.
SOUNDSome good commentary backed up with good effects and music.
GAMEPLAYThe slam dunks and freestyle air adds to terrific gameplay.
VALUEThere is plenty here to come back to, but no online gameplay sucks.
OVERALLNBA Live 2005 is the best game yet in EA Sports' long running NBA Live series. There's plenty to do and the 8-player mode is a real hoot. Even without online gameplay this game is highly recommended.

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