NBA Live 09 falls short again, but it's much closer to its target

User Rating: 7 | NBA Live 09 X360
NBA Live 09 is another attempt by EA Sports to come back to the top of basketball sims, a place that has been occupied for some time by the NBA 2k series. While it doesn't quite reach its goal yet, it came considerably closer than the past few years.

Graphics - 9/10

The graphics are one of the best things about NBA Live 09. Visually, the game is fantastic. Player models look realistic and you can easily recognize the famous players from their faces and tattoos. When you go to shoot a free throw, you can see the players sweat and it looks just like real basketball players do. A few minor things could have been improved though. The dancers that you periodically see during time-outs are not done very well. Neither is the crowd. The crowd is not too pleasing for the eye either, though they do react quite well to things happening on the court. If the home team is getting blown out, the crowd sits there and look disappointed and bored. On the other hand, if the home team is on a 12-0 run in the final minutes on the game, every single person is standing and cheering. While this isn't extremely noticeable, it does give a little bit more flesh to the game.

Sound - 6/10

I will talk about sound in 2 parts. The actual sounds during the game, like dribbling, shooting, dunks, fans, is great. You really feel like you're a part of the game, and it is fun to listen to these sounds. However, the commentators ruin the sound. They are extremely repetitive, and by the 5th game you'll start getting annoyed by the same thing over and over again. It really drops the realism of the game. Another thing that happens fairly often is commentators messing up on player stats. For instance, one of them said that Jermaine O'neal just got his 10th rebound when it was in fact his 13th. This seems to happen every few games, and while not a huge nuisance, it is an unfortunate bug. As for the music in the game, it isn't all that noticeable. There are a few rap tracks and a little bit of rock; however, nothing too major.

Game Modes - 9/10
There are a few new additions in terms of game modes that make NBA Live 09 a little bit more fun in general. A new addition is the NBA Live Academy. The Academy is a place where you can train all of the moves that will help you become a successful basketball player, such as the pick and roll or boxing out. It is useful to familiarize yourself with the game, but becomes fairly useless later on. The game mode that I looked forward to the most was the FIBA World Championship. This allowed you to pick an international team out of a great many and compete for the FIBA World Championship. This made me especially happy since I am a Lithuanian, and it allowed me to finally control the Lithuanian national team in a FIBA tournament. Either way, this mode is a fun addition, simply if to control Mexico and win against USA for sheer fun. The last new addition is the Be a Pro mode. In this mode, you pick a single player, and control that player, while the computer controls the other 9. The goal of this mode is to do as well as possible with your picked team. In other words, it's more of a "Team be Damned" game mode, as you will be selfish and take matter into your own hands. As for the old game modes, Dynasty Mode has been revamped a little bit, as is now a little bit more user friendly, though sometimes the roster rotation will make you mad. The computer likes to ignore them sometimes.

Gameplay - 6/10

Ah the gameplay. This seems to be the area where NBA Live likes to fall backwards. This year is really no exception. The computer is sluggish and stupid, however, they seem to make extremely difficult shots that you could have no hope to ever make yourself. That, in general, is also a bad thing. The amount of shots made is ridiculous, and can be upwards to 65% if you pick your shots carefully. Now I don't care what team you are, but shooting a 65% is ridiculous. Another thing is that blocks seem to be extremely plentiful on both sides. I once managed to block Yao Ming with Steve Nash. Steve Nash jumped well past the rim, but he can't really pull off a dunk that well. The game is also a little too slow. Long have the days passed when you could score 30 points in 5 minutes, now you are lucky to get 20, and that is simply because the field goal percentage is so high. Defense is really non-existent in this game. It almost seems like defending is of no reason, since it basically comes down to an outscoring match-up. However, even with all these flaws, the gameplay could be worse. In other words, the actual basketball is playable, but nowhere near great.

NBA Live 365 - 5/10

Okay, I felt the newest and "biggest" addition should be left last. NBA Live 365 boasts that this will be basketball like "never before". All the players in the league have DNA tendencies. Every single player likes to do something more than the other. Peja likes to shoot, Shaq likes to stay in the low post. Some players want to drive left, some, right. This is the whole crux of NBA Live 365. It updates player DNA tendencies every day, from what they did the previous game during the actual NBA season. It also shows Hot streaks and Cold streaks, and other "goodies" that...a casual player really doesn't care about. Most people won't notice this at all. They will know it's not there, but really not care for it. With this concept comes the NBA Live Rewind game, where you can rewind any game from the 08-09 NBA season and play it with the roster and the DNA tendencies both respective teams and players had. All good fun, but the only time I ever went to this mode was for an achievement. In other words, not a big deal.

Conclusion - 7/10

The gameplay could have been better, and NBA Live 365 seemed to be pretty non-existent, but honestly, NBA Live 09 wasn't a bad game. It was certainly playable, and fun most of the time. However, the problems it had does not quite put it at the top...yet.