Boasting lightning-fast gameplay, tons of moves, great artificial intelligence, textured polygon players, and motion capture animation, NBA Live 97 may very well be the best Playstation-based basketball game to date. Featuring all 29 NBA Teams plus two all-star teams (each team has 12 active roster slots plus injured reserve), over 300 real NBA players, including rookies on updated rosters, exhibition, season, and playoff modes, NBA Live 97 has it all.
The animations are so smooth and realistic that you'd swear you were watching a real game. With all-new offensive and defensive plays, which all can be programmed and changed on the fly, players perform hard-hitting slams, fade away shots, graceful tip-ins, finger rolls, and even behind-the-back passes. And when a player gets knocked down, he actually pushes himself up off the floor and shakes his head as he recovers. This realistic action comes to the Playstation via the athletic prowess of Sacramento Kings stars Mitch Richmond and Tyrus Edney through the use of motion capture technology. The players tend to be on the small side, however, but the trade-off for larger players is slower performance. EA also includes eight different camera configurations, allowing players to customize highlights and close-ups. Capping off the package are animated play diagrams, individual defensive pressure options, track stats for a whole season, and the ability to save records to memory cards.
It's worth noting that NBA Live 97's roster even includes Shaquille O'Neal, making it the only console-based basketball game that currently makes his likeness available. And players who want to live out the fantasy of going up against the superstars can create an alter-ego that bears the name and number of their choosing on the back of the jersey.
The sound effects are also topnotch. Everything from the squeaking sneakers on the court to the swish of the net are all very authentic, and even the music played during the game provides that in-the-arena feel. TNT's participation in creating this title means that its logos festoon the game, and Ernie Johnson Jr. is the network announcer. TNT's involvement also means a 30 second half-time show for each team, complete with live video.
The graphics, sound, gameplay, and numerous features are enough to satisfy hoop fans and die-hard sports gamers. Perhaps the "official" 'net association tag best sums it up: "NBA Live 97 - You'll Love This Game!"