NBA Live '96


EA Sports

Click to view advertisers
Click on image to visit site

EA Sports has once again displayed an unprecedented level of excellence in it's first basketball game for the next generation systems, NBA Live '96. A host of options, real 3D stadiums, realistic monster dunks, and that patented EA Sports game play lead the way into the best basketball simulation to date. PlayStation sports buffs will finally get a chance to play something other than NFL GameDay on their PSX.

To start with the bad, the graphics in NBA Live '96 may be the one downfall of the game. Though the 3D stadiums are excellent, the actual player graphics are a disappointment. Most of the possible views in the game are from a distance, which leaves the players looking very small and slightly blurred. The few views that move up close to the court show an inordinate amount of pixelation in the players and the baskets. Also, there are no referees or cheerleaders, and limited crowd interaction. Other than these few flaws, however, the graphics package comes off very nicely. Players are fluidly animated, there is no flicker or slow down, and the rim and net of the basket react realistically to all shots and dunks. Add this to the excellently rendered stadiums that represent every NBA court, and the graphics come off favorably, if not as an outstanding quality of the game.

NBA Live '96 incorporates unique game play mechanics which allow the player to let the game be extremely simple or very complicated. On the simple end, only three buttons plus the directional pad are needed to play: the shoot/shove button, the pass/switch players button, and the run button. As the player becomes more familiar with the game, they learn to use other buttons that allow stealing (incase shoving is impossible because fouls are on), shot blocking, and manual rebounding. Past that, three more buttons can be used in conjunction with the directional pad to call a variety of offensive and defensive plays. This, plus an option to turn on and off virtually every rule in the NBA, allows the player to start off by playing a game that slightly resembles five on five NBA Jam, and slowly move into an almost complete simulation of NBA basketball. From a full court press to the Bulls patented triangle offense, it's all here. Crisp controls allow these plays to be run seamlessly. Add this to all the other extras such as alley-oops and passing while midway through a shot attempt, and what comes out are some very solid play mechanics. This is obviously an EA Sports game all the way.

Though the sound spinning off the CD-ROM isn't as well done as some previous EA Sports efforts such as FIFA Soccer for the 3DO, it definitely holds it's own. The music that makes itself heard throughout the title is very well done, but it is played little during the actual game. A song will often start up for the first ten seconds of a quarter, and then disappear for the rest of the quarter. It would have been a wiser choice by EA to have given players the option of having in game music or not. Sound effects in the game consist of the standard sports fanfare. The squeaking shoes, clanging rim, and roaring crowd are nice, but nothing special. They fit the atmosphere fine, but do little to add or detract to the game playing experience.


Overall, NBA Live '96 comes off as another fine gaming experience from EA Sports. Though it isn't the most outstanding Electronic Arts game ever, it is definitely a worthwhile title, and is also the best basketball simulation on the PlayStation to date. Though NBA Shootout may win the crown as best arcade basketball game, it is still a tough call to choose between the two titles. It seems, however, that NBA Live's depth of strategy and amazing amount of options may win over the long term interest of gamers. Both are great buys, it just comes down to a matter of personal taste. After this successful incarnation of a next generation basketball title, gamers can only wonder what happened to EA's football and hockey games, which were put on hold until next season. If all goes well, these two titles will go a step beyond what is offered in NBA Live '96 and become a true sports fan's dream.

Written by Andrew Phelan


Overall: ****1/2


Electronic Arts
1450 Fashion Island Blvd.,
San Mateo, CA 94404.

Web site: www.ea.com


In North America:

See developers.

In Europe:

In UK:

Electronic Arts UK Ltd.,
90 Heron Drive,
Langley, Berks SL3 8XP.

Technical Support: +44-(0)1753-546465

In France:

Electronic Arts France,
3 Rue Claude Chappe,
69771 Saint Didier au Mont D'or Cedex.

In Germany:

Electronic Arts GmbH.,
Verler Str. 1,
333332 Gutersloth.

In Sweden:

Electronic Arts,
Business Campus,
Johanneslundsvogen 2,
194 81 Upplandsvasby.

In Spain:

Electronic Arts Software S.A.,
Edificio Arcade,
Rufino Gonzalez 23 bis,
Planta 1a, Local 2,
28037 Madrid.


Copyright © 1996 Coming Soon Magazine, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part, in any form or medium without express written permission of Coming Soon Magazine is prohibited.