While attending the EA Canada Open House Event in Vancouver (British Columbia), PSU was given the opportunity to see many titles for the first time, including NBA Live 08. This will be the first year that EA brings the NBA Live series to the PS3, and from what we’ve seen so far it's looking solid.
Bringing everything back to basics…
One of the first things that lead producer Brian Ulrich stated about Live 08 was that they plan to take everything back to the fundamentals of basketball. Some of the key focuses of development include passing, shooting, rebounding, dunks/lay-ups, offense/defense, post whistle, collisions, and locomotion. These are just some of the basics they are keying in on to bring more authenticity and enjoyment to the Live experience.
There will no longer be separate buttons for dunks and lay-ups, as the team decided to put them as the same button; based on certain situations and the particular player the AI will decide whether to put up a finger roll or dunk. This will hopefully bring more realism to the game, as Live 07 became an unrealistic dunk-fest once players found out that it was always easier to simply dunk.
Faster and Smarter…
Outside of the control changes, some of the most impressive evolutions were in the advancement of AI and animations. EA has gone to great lengths to improve its locomotion technology and contextual AI, whereby players on the court will act more realistically in decision-making and physical movements. For example, Live 08 gamers will see their computer players make decisions to box out or swarm for the rebound more often, something we haven't really seen from a basketball title before.
In addition, collisions have been added to the game for air-to-air, air-to-ground, and ground movements. Instead of players flying through each other, collisions can knock players down, causing them to switch up a shot and lessening the probability of making a basket. Essentially, defensive players have mass and weight to stop you.
Although the improvements to AI sound great, there is another significant upgrade worth mentioning: this year, Live will be running at a smooth 60 frames per second, allowing for more realistic animations and faster gameplay.
With the game still in its early stages you can only hope that EA takes it's time to really polish the edges to turn this into a shining diamond. The new sideline camera, improved graphics and animations, and talk of using the SIXAXIS should help Live 08 finally take a significant step forwards in the genre.
NBA Live 08 is set to hit retail October 2nd. Stay tuned to PSU for more information on this title.