NBA Live 2001 Review
What may be the longest running NBA game series, the NBA Live series is still the most realistic B-ball title out there after so many games, from SNES to PSX. I really can't remember EA releasing a lacking NBA Live game at all, every single one on the PS was above average and the ones in the 16-Bit era were just as good. Much like Madden, Live was also the undisputed basketball series in the 16-Bit days, and also faced Sony's Shootout games on the PS, but most of the times prevailed. After 989 Sports was created it seemed as if all hell broke loose. The MLB series wasn't up to snuff anymore, the GameDay franchise is nearly ruined, and the Shootout franchise looks like it disappeared off the face of the earth. EA Sports is certainly going to make their last 32-Bit games absolutely the best, they have so far done that with Triple Play 2001, FIFA 2000, Madden NFL 2001 and the recent NHL 2001. Now that NBA Live 2001 is out, can EA Sports go for broke and slap five straight our way? You bet your ass they can, and they did too. NBA Live 2001 is the latest example of what can still be done on the five year old PS.
The visuals though already getting dated, still look pretty, especially the facial expressions. Just like last years NBA Live 2000 the facial expressions (which were first brought in NBA Live '99) look incredible and in some cases more refined. The mouth movement is less than an "open-close-open-close" animation, and is now more fluid. The "cyber athletes" are also something to desire, they move incredibly smooth thanks to the excellent motion capturing. The detail has pretty much been left the same, the bodies are still finely constructed and are made up of super smooth looking polygons that really create a superbly crafted basketball player. I noticed a somewhat dramatic change in the audience, instead of blobs of paint slapped onto a 2D surface, the crowd is now a bunch of independent pixels that are slapped on a 2D background. The level of detail isn't by any means, decent or even just above average, the only reason that the visuals didn't score as high as last years is because the engine is pretty much dated and with the arrival of the PS2 version sometime in November or December, gamers who have been craving for something new can look no further but NBA Live 2001 for PS2.
What can I say, not much has changed between 2000 and 2001. The gameplay honestly has remained the same, the modes haven't changed a great deal and nothing groundbreaking has been done... good! Thankfully EA Sports has kept the original formula and improved upon it, to make this the best (32/64-Bit) playing basketball game to date. The action can always be manipulated by going into the options menu and changing the options to your liking. You have your standard Exhibition mode which is pretty much a warm-up, then the Season mode lets you pick anywhere from 28 games to a full season league. The Playoff mode is also explanatory, and the Michael Jordan 1 on 1 mode is back, making Live 2001 the ONLY hoops title to feature Michael Jordan as a fully accessible athlete. The drafting and trading have always been my favorite frill, I always loved creating my own super dream team and inserting somebody like John Stockton, Karl Malone and Gary Payton on the New York Knicks, admit it you know you do the same too. NBA Live 2001 is an incredibly enjoyable game, especially with a couple of friends, and a 3-point shootout tournament, the next thing you know you'll be BBQ-ing on your porch. Anybody who has enjoyed a Live game in the past, owes it to him/herself to check out NBA Live 2001.
The EA Sports commentary has been brought back to the fullest with great quality audio, along with a nice intro song. The commentary is play by play and features absolutely no color commentary, so gamers looking for better commentary that EA's previous titles, like you know who, you may be disappointed, and the fact that EA has yet to license Bob Costas as a commentator is beginning to be quite annoying. Bob Costas is not only the best commentator ever, but he also does baseball along with basketball, he is a man who really knows his sports, and it's a shame that EA Sports is still overlooking the chance to license Bob Costas, or maybe they are trying to at the moment. Though the game lacks color commentary, it makes up for it in the smooth and accurate play-by-plays. In general I don't have anything bad to say about the sound.
Using the analog stick to move your player is a dream, just like last years 2000, the more you push the analog stick, the faster the athlete will run. I prefer using the analog stick to my advantage, it gives me more precision in movement and I have a much better feel of the game. The Dual Shock isn't used often, but it's there and that's what counts. The controls have remained the same, so fans of older titles will be welcomed home nicely.
I know that this may not be the deepest review I've written, but what do you expect from a game that has seen extremely similar games two times. NBA Live 2001 is the last NBA Live game on the PS, and die-hard fans should go and pick up the game, but once again, if you have a PS2 and have an NBA Live 2001 pre-order ticket for PS2 then just wait a two more weeks and you'll be more content with what may be the most realistic playing and looking basketball game ever. NBA Live 2001 may be getting old on the PSX, but this is what you get from a console that is just over five years old.