playstation homepage   Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review
PlayStation Game and Hardware Reviews



Get your PSX games HERE!

Developer EA Sports Options
Distributer Electronic Arts 1-8 Player
Game Type Sports Sim Memory Card 5-7 Blocks
Review Date January 1998 Multi-tap
Screenshot No.1
Screenshot No.2
Screenshot No.3 
Setting the Scene
'E.A Sports - It's in the game.' It most certainly is when it comes down to sporting video games. NBA Live 96 was one of the very first sporting simulations to be released on the Playstation and set a monumental standard that many rivals have yet to supersede. Tweaks in both gameplay and graphical departments saw the '97 version move the posts even further away.

Having already witnessed massive improvements to EA's 98 versions of NHL and FIFA titles I was sure that NBA Live 98, hailed as the 'Soul of Hoops', was never going to fall in the category of being 'just another basketball game.'

NBA Live 98 is a next generation product from EA Sports, which allows the player to experience basketball like never before. They pride themselves on developing incredibly realistic sports simulations with depth and ease of gameplay.

Wow. The graphics must be the best we've ever seen in a basketball title on any home system. The players are constructed of silky smooth polygons with each boasting a texture map of his own real-life face. This gives them a truly realistic appearance which is most noticeable when the camera zooms in for a replay . They run and turn in a similar style to their real-life counterparts thanks to the Player Model and Motion Capture technique that was used. The amazing result is that players now move with smoothness and speed, and I have yet to witness any slowdown within the game. They swivel on one foot, pump fake, fall down, get up, follow through on the free throws, sky hook, reverse jam, reverse layup, etc.... You have to see it to believe it.

The player select screens are flawless with each of the players polygon impressions lining up for photocall. Non of those boring snapshots, but moving animation that bravely allows you to study the detail in each of their faces.

All of the NBA teams play at their home stadium with the court surface marked with their name or logo. The packed crowd each wear a detailed attire and even moves their hands together when applauding and when the action breaks you feel like checking them out to see if you recognize anyone watching the game. The playing surface has been so highly polished that a detailed reflection mirrors every move in play, even the ball has it's very own shadow which grows and shrinks at it is bounced around the court.

The game can be viewed from every imaginable angle. In fact each of the eight views may be slightly adjusted in some way or form, zooming in on play, reversing the direction of play, there's even a selection of free throw angles to choose from.

Sounds and Effects
The opening intro is a selection of breathtaking live video footage that sets the scene perfectly and is backed by a thunderous rock soundtrack. The music throughout is as upbeat as the gameplay reaching a climax with a stunning half time display by the home teams cheerleaders. Oh, it's also all recorded in Dolby Surround.

The crowd react to every movement of play. They begin with rapturous applause, then quieting as play gets underway before rising from their seats to cheer on every vicious dunk. The play-by-play commentary by TNT announcers follows every single move with great accuracy, offering sideline remarks on how the game is going. The dunks, and swishes sound true to life and the shoe squeaks are there for you purists, although the on court sound effects seem to have been toned down a little this year.

So you own the two previous Live games, but what's new for 98?
Well there is actually a whole host of new features. Apart from the graphical and sound upgrades there is the new dunk packages where certain players actions are based as closely as possible on their actual abilities. You now get to see you team play in a third outfit, the Sunday uniform. The loading times have been improved while trivia questions appear while you are waiting. You can set up your own leagues consisting of 4 to 32 teams and then try out the new General Manager mode including NBA Draft, salary caps, trading and injuries. There's even a new 3-point competition to test your skills by taking on a top basketball star in a race against the clock to see who scores the most points while emptying five trays of balls.

NBA Live 98 is so easy to pick up and play, even if your unsure of the rules of basketball. The options just seem to keep on growing in these sporting titles and Live is no exception.
Game modes include a 1-8 player Exhibition game between any two from the 29 NBA, 4 custom and 2 all star teams. A full history of each team is available to browse through at your leasure with trivia facts such as most consecutive wins, largest winning margin and full list of championship honors. There are three styles of play which are Arcade , Simulation and Custom while the standard three difficulty settings have been increased with the addition of an all new superstar mode.
Enter a full grueling Season where each aspect may be tinkered with from trade restrictions to play-off length. If you prefer you may go straight to the Play-offs.
The 3 Point Shootout is a short test of shooting speed and ability which is excellent for a session of target practice.

Controlling the players is easy enough with face buttons allocated for a crossover dribble, back down/spin, pass and shoot when on the offence. While on defence they become steal, jump, switch player and hand-check. The shoulder buttons are used to drive players through defenders, turbo, direct pass and direct shoot. Substitutions and strategic changes can be made throughout play or left in the competent hands of the computer. Each of the game rules may be tampered with depending on whether you wish to play an accurate simulation or a non-stop, no holds barred game of basketball - the choice is yours.

Value for Money
EA Sports have once again succeeded in improving on an already splendid product. Looking for your first PSX basketball game? Then look no further.

GRAPHICS: Brilliant EA have captured the feel of an arcade basketball game perfectly with NBA Live 98. If you don't already own a copy of NBA Live then you must find room in your collection for this excellent rendition of your favorite sport. If you already own an earlier version then trade it in against the sequel and you won't be disappointed.
VALUE: Very Good
PlayStation Freak
GRAPHICS: Brilliant NBA Live '98 has all the tweaks and whistles that make a great basketball title! The graphics are superb, the sound and music are awesome, and the gameplay has been vastly improved over last year's version. NBA Live '98 could quite possible become the b-ball simulation king once again! It'll have some tough competition from Shoot Out and ITZ, but I believe that it will come out on top. It is an extremely well-done game, and I would like to commend EA Sports for the great job they did! So, if you're a hardcore basketball fan such as myself, I suggest you save your money and purchase a copy of Live for yourself. It is the most realistic and fun b-ball game I've played!

PlayStation Freak is a dedicated PlayStation gamer and reader of A.P.I. For an in-depth opinion of NBA Live 98 check out his Readers Review in the Members section.

Get your PSX games HERE!