* PART ONE OF AN ATTEMPT TO BREAK DOWN NBA 2k9 & NBA LIVE '09 *
When it comes to basketball games, it really boils to just two titles: EA Sports' NBA Live series, and 2K Sports' NBA 2K series.
My love for Live continued into the PS2. Although the 2001 edition sucked big-time (worst rebounding physics ever), they made up for it the next year and actually offered a playable game. Then, a few years later, they would introduce the use of the right analog stick. This made the game feel more natural, as the right analog stick basically acted as the player's "arms". Want to steal left? Flick it to the left side. Want to pull off a crossover going to the right? Done. I remember reading the ads and previews for that game, and it only increased my hunger. Back then, I had no idea of the official release date, so I would call the game store everyday just to know if they had it on stock.
This addiction continued up until NBA Live 2005 (pictured above), which I consider to be the greatest Live ever. Just like Chris Paul and the Hornets, everything clicked in that title. By this time, I feel that EA had perfected the balance between offense and defense. You had strong offensive groups (Sac-town, what up!) that could shoot the lights out every game. But in addition to that, defense wasn't just an afterthought. Yeah, you had strong shooters, but you were allowed to play great defense, too. Defense that actually prevented the opposition from scoring, mind you. Back in a time when paying Ben Wallace $ 10+ mill per year seemed like a pretty great idea, Live was the king. Just remembering the Saturdays when we would play until 4:00 am comforts my soul.
But then, by 2006, Live started regressing. In Dwyane Wade's cover year, I started my "fallout" with Live. The game had transformed into a shootfest, one that negated any defense at all. Yeah, you could go "steal-crazy" (like I did with King James and Laura Hughes), but it felt more like a bug. Activate you damn superstar power, and simply press the steal button and voila! You're suddenly running the break. B*llshit.
I had been hearing lots of great things about the 2k series by then, so I decided to buy the 2007 editions of NBA 2k and Live. I bought Live '07 first, and after playing one quarter of it, I decided I was done. The game was just terrible. How could the graphics get worse every year? Damn.
So, despite my strong dislike for Shaq, I bought 2k7. I remember buying it the day before the final exam of a subject I was thisclose to failing. Asking me to not play it asap was like asking Ruben Studdard to "take it easy" on the buffalo wings.
Anyways, upon playing it, I was blown away. Here was a game where the players actually planted one foot, pivoted, before they ran in the other direction! I'm not joking, those were the things that mattered to me. Simply put, this was everything Live was not, and I was thankful for that.
Hell, when everybody was buying an XBox 360 for Halo and Mass Effect, I bought it primarily to play NBA 2k8. Right now, I've answered 120+ trivia questions correctly in the game, which should tell you how much I play this game. This is true next-gen basketball, with numerous animations, much improved gameplay and a deeper Associaton mode. How can a basketball junkie not love this?!?
However, I haven't been hearing a lot about NBA 2k9. Considering it's scheduled to be released in early October, to not have more info available is seriously confusing. They do plan on releasing one, right?
This worries me because Live is seemingly going all out for NBA Live 2009. I'm certainly no 2k fanboy. And I have no qualms giving Live credit if they truly deserve it. But Live does this year after year. They promise a great set of features, they guarantee us improve gameplay, they swear to us improved A.I., but like Tracy McGrady, they never come through. So that's why I would much rather see 2k cranking out the hype machine by now. They always seem to deliver on their promises and their gameplay is pretty much set in stone. Any improvement should only make the game that much better.
Right now, that's Part 1 for 'ya. I plan on doing this up until the release of both games (and maybe even beyond that). There's so much more to discuss, after all. When it comes to basketball, nothing is too much. Nothing.
For Part 2, I'll be talking more about NBA Live '09's impressive and staggering list of innovations. If there's one edition that's likely to bring me back to Live's arms, this could be it. Crazy.
Epilogue: Glad to see Jay and Kanye teaming up to change the game once more. Not that this is surprising, but damn this song will be a hit.
Last 5 songs played on my iPod:
1. POD - Tenacious D, "The Pick Of Destiny"
2. Superstition - Stevie Wonder, "The Music Of Stevie Wonder"
3. B*tches & Sisters - Jay-Z, "The Blueprint 2"
4. Reason Why - Rachael Yamagata, "OST: The Last Kiss"
5. Dahil Sa'yo Sa Himig Ng Aking Gitara - Hale, "Twilight"