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NBA Live 08 Review

Will our Wii hoopdreams be shattered?

You could be a four-year-old chimpanzee with one arm (although we trust you're not) and EA still wants you to be able to play the latest instalment of its annual basketball series on Wii.

This is one of the first titles to sport EA's new control system, named Family Play; a Wii Remote-only configuration that hands movement over to the computer, leaving the player to concentrate on a basic core selection of gestures and moves like passing and shooting. And it works well in NBA Live 08.

So, to pass you press A, jump shots are done by raising the Remote then flicking it forward at the top of the jump; and slam dunks are done by flicking the Remote left or right when you're near enough. It's nice and easy, and interactive enough to warrant a decent game between two beginners.

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Connect a Nunchuk and you're given control of the player's movement, with more advanced offensive and defensive moves on the C and Z buttons. Tackling is done by waving the Remote left and right which isn't ideal. The constant waggling can be tiring, and this is just another example of button controls being mapped to motion and not working too well.

Having A Ball

Outside the usual choice of tournaments and career modes, the now-essential-for-Wii Party Mode adds two extra neat mini games for those social gatherings. In a shoot-out contest you get 25 shots in one minute, and the aim is to net the most. The slam dunk contest has you waving the Remote in specified directions at the right time to perform slow-motion dunks for points. It looks cool but isn't as fun as the shoot-out, as the gestures don't relate as well to what's happening on screen.

It's just a shame that EA's basketball games don't look as polished as its footy titles. Players look rubbery and stiff, with distorted shoulders and hands that are stuck in a ball-gripping position. Cardboard cut-out crowds are back and the ball doesn't even roll properly when it's dropped. Shoddy.

But if you like your B-ball, this is as good as it gets on your Wii for now. It's playable and feature-packed, accessible to anyone thanks to Family Play, and boasts online play too.

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  1. MickG Monday 2nd Jan 2012 at 20:39

    Haven't got deep into the gameplay with this game yet, and mostly boot it up and start with 'Family Play' to get a win under my belt first :oops: but it is cracking fun to play, and after a fair few goes, I've managed to start defending quite effectively, keeping the games close - which wasn't the case when I first waded in with the Nunchuk and got my backside spanked!

    It's smooth, the graphics are good, and it feels quite physical, which is a bit more like reality (despite being a mostly non-contact sport!) than some older basketball games I've played, where the focus was on silky skills made easy and ghosting through defenses like they didn't exist.

    You can pull off a few moves like slam-dunks without the Nunchuk, but as they are pretty easy to do during Family Play, you'll soon want to challenge yourself to do them 'for real' with the Nunchuk attached, and the game really comes alive then.

    No question it's a tough game to master, but the sheer joy of stealing the ball or blocking a shot, dribbling and passing your way up the court and creating a gap to shoot and score means that it's still fun to play and full of rewards, even if, like me, you lose almost every game!

    A great purchase and recommended.

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