NBA Live has always been known as the best-playing basketball simulation on any console. So it only makes sense that EA would give hoops fans one last PlayStation b-ball injection before moving on to the next-generation machines. NBA Live 2001 is EA's latest shot at roundball perfection, and it comes loaded with all the options you'd expect.
Most of the enhancements specific to NBA Live 2001 may be hard to notice, but they are important all the same. The artificial intelligence has undergone some tweaking: For example, the computer will start grinding down the clock if it's leading late in the game or foul if it's behind. The animations have been smoothed out for less rigid transitions, and the rosters and arenas have all been updated. EA has also included a challenge mode in which you must accomplish certain directives such as winning by ten points or achieving a double-double.
Fortunately, all the fine aspects of previous NBA Live games have returned. Michael Jordan makes a second appearance, and you may play against his tough-as-nails Bulls squad or square up with him in a game of one-on-one. You may also play exhibition games with up to eight players (with the multitap). In addition, there is a three-point shootout along with the option to play as one of the 31 current NBA teams or some of the NBA's all-time greatest squads. As if this wasn't enough, there is also a practice mode to help you hone your skills. The high-flying arcade mode that appeared in NBA Live 2000 was not present in our burn of 2001, but, as with previous versions of NBA Live, the focus is on season mode.
In season mode you may customize to your heart's content. Season length, penalty sensitivity, and full stat tracking are just the beginning of the customizable options. You may also create players with different heads, shoes, skin tones, and attributes and then pick them up off the free-agent wire. Managing rosters and conducting your own NBA draft are also at your disposal.
Once on the court, you may call both offensive and defensive plays, switch formations, or change the defensive matchup for each one of your players. The sheer number of ways to control your players is staggering. You may make them push off, crossover dribble, pump fake, spin, post up, call for picks, and just about everything else real NBA players do.
The graphics are just what you'd expect from an EA Sports game. The players are proportioned accurately, and, after a nice play, you can clearly see their facial expressions change. The animations are most impressive, and the sense of power really comes through - on the dunks in particular. Instant replays are initiated after the most rim-rocking plays. There is also a customizable camera that lets you view the action from wherever you choose. Best of all, Live 2001 retains the same tried-and-true gameplay that has made it a hit in the past.
NBA Live 2001 is slated for a mid-October release. GameSpot will have more on NBA Live 2001 when it becomes available.