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NBA Live '09 Preview - Community Day Impressions

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Old 07-07-2008, 08:25 PM   #1
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NBA Live '09 Preview - Community Day Impressions

What’s up OS? Recently I was lucky enough to get a chance to see NBA Live ’09 early at EA Canada. If you’ve been around the forums, you would know that I wasn’t the biggest fan of NBA Live ’08 but could see the potential in the game engine. Still, potential doesn’t make a fun game. With the foundation finally set, I was excited to see if the series could reclaim its lost glory. If you’re interested in finding that answer, read on…

Before I begin, you should know I took many questions that were asked in the forums as well as my own and presented it directly to the game developers. I did not accept any run-around answer; they responded with straight, to the point answers. Overall, I was pleased with the responses. In one instance, a developer told me he would get me the answer to my question later and he did, via email. They were forthright when responding to my questions and that was great to experience. Also know we were each given a game of our choice at the event. I picked up UEFA Euro 2008. Why am I telling you this? Because it’s important to be open with the same community I’m representing. No propaganda, no excuses… It’s all right there in front of you to either take as face value or not. Others may not feel this is important to share with you but I do. Take that for what it is worth.

I took the 4 major categories of items I would like to know about and grouped all our questions into one of the four categories. They are:
1) Animations, Physics and Presentation
2) Game Modes and Features
(and last but certainly never least)
3) Gameplay.
I will give you a run down on what I experienced, what I liked and what I didn’t.


Feel free to ask me any questions regarding anything I write here. EA has one major announcement that will be done at E3. I cannot speak on anything regarding that topic and online play. Once EA has revealed the feature, I have information I will share with you.

All my information is in regards to 2-player, head to head gaming. I did not have time to test the AI as there were too many of us and we all wanted to play (rightfully).

Remember, every single thing I’m going to share with you is from an unfinished build. Things may change for the better (or even for the worse) but nothing I tell you in how a certain area of the game “feels” is set in stone. Please keep that in mind when reading my impressions. Also, I am NOT trying to sell you on the game. If you’re going to take my comments that way, just stop reading now. These are simply my impressions. If you’ve been around OS for a while, you would know I give games a fair shake before shooting them down (no pun intended!). So hopefully, this information will give those who are interested in just playing the best basketball game out a better idea when the try all games upon release (yes, even Sony’s NBA 09).
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Old 07-07-2008, 08:25 PM   #2
Legen - WAIT FOR IT
 
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Re: NBA Live '09 Preview - Community Day Impressions

Animations, Physics and Presentation

This is probably the one area where Live has been lacking for years. Live 2005 was the last Live game I considered acceptable in terms of animations. Now, compared to their competition, Live has always been behind. Players have always had generic movements and stiff animations that really detract from the overall experience. In the build I played, Live has made a huge leap in terms of animations. Basic animations, such as contact between players, players falling out of bounds, jumping for the tip… all are well represented in the game. Players fight for position and interact very well, the best of any Live game to date. For once, watching the game was actually fun. Things looked like they should for the most part, with only a limited amount of strange animations.

Ball physics are much improved, but still very predictable when going through the hoop. The game does have what seems to be a wide open engine, however. During one game, as I played a fellow community leader into OT, we had an instance where the ball bounce up on top of the backboard and got stuck up there. Surely a bug, but it was sweet and sour to experience at the same time. I mean, it was OT people! Worst time for that sort of thing to happen!

The high arcing lobs in the post are gone. Now, you get solid passes including step through, wrap around passes in the post; much better than last year and very believable. Shots had a different arc when your timing was off and actually floated a bit too high. I was told this would be toned down on release.

Signature shots were certainly improved for the big names… Ray Allen, LBJ, KG, Kobe, D. Fish… all looked great. Certainly I would have liked to see more but the ones I noticed looked like they should. There still could have been more for the lesser known players. BTW, shot releases are controllable this year.

Dunks animated well but there were still a few instances where the dunk animation would play regardless of the defender standing there. You would see the dunk start and the defender conveniently just slide out of the way, against their will. This wasn’t a big issue, but it’s there at times.

Player mannerisms and emotion is much better as well. Guys actually raise their hand to call out plays and call for the ball in a variety of ways. They even pump their fist and do little hops of joy after a good play or shot. Very welcome to see this…

In terms of presentation, the commentary team is phenomenal again. They were spot-on with their comments and kept me involved. The game introduction is slightly new with dance-team routines going on (there were multiple) as well as the teams huddled up and getting “hype.” If you’re looking for a pre-game show or something similar, don’t look here. I will say what was there didn’t detract from the experience but aside from the commentary it didn’t enhance it.

Lighting throughout the arenas is correct this year.

Likes:
Much better animation in every aspect of the game
Player emotion
Improved sig shots
Score ticker is very nice!

Dislikes:
Not enough signature shots
Animations would lock you into a move until they play out completely
Lack of a true broadcast style presentation
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Old 07-07-2008, 08:27 PM   #3
Legen - WAIT FOR IT
 
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Re: NBA Live '09 Preview - Community Day Impressions

Features and Game Modes
Dynasty
Dynasty looks to build upon last year. There is currently no Pre-season but there are training games. There are also skills that you can improve through min-games. There are 6 different games that focus on basic basketball skills. I only saw one and it looked very fun, similar to the Madden Skills game in Madden football. You can hire staff that will have an impact on your team’s performance. There’s your basic scouting and objectives that you must achieve within your dynasty. ESPN News will report on happenings around the league via news articles. One disappointing aspect of this mode was the inability to play other team’s games going on throughout your dynasty. You CAN control the CPU’s rosters, however, but this is limited as well since you can’t set their starting lineups. Probably the biggest detraction from dynasty is the inability to use draft classes from March Madness. They know we want it and they want it too but they couldn’t work it out in time for release. Those who enjoy this feature will surely be disappointed again. Some may find an upside in the recruiting, as players may turn out to be a sleeper or bust. You cannot modify this trait, however, to get actual rookies in the game a year into franchise. Someone had asked and no, there will not be career ending injuries. You will have season ending, but not career ending. Supposedly, the game will follow the top MVP vote getter and have the crowd chanting “MVP!” at home games. (Again, from NBA Live ’05! About time!)

Be A Pro

I didn’t spend much time with this feature. From my understanding it will judge you on your performance by giving you things to do such as set picks, follow plays called and so forth. You will have both positive and negative indicators based on your performance. Unfortunately I don’t have more information than this, but expect others from the Community Day to flesh out the details on this feature.

NBA Academy
This feature allows you to shoot around and practice on a BEAUTIFUL practice court. You can run up to coaches and practice on skills or just shoot around. It almost feels like such a basic addition but is a nice little feature. NBA Academy feels more complete than the NBA Court of last year. There are nice huge Hi-Def screens that play the game’s intro by default. Once you save your replays, they will play here as well! Very nice addition!

FIBA
Probably my favorite addition in terms of modes this year, FIBA is much better than the half-hearted attempt included with NBA Live. The FIBA courts have the correct angle in the paint. The crowd (IIRC) had international chants. Just playing with these teams was a different experience. I will certainly be playing this more because of the actual international tourney this year.
Teams & Ratings:
USA 96
Russia 88
Spain 87
Lithuania 83
Greece 83
Argentina 83
Slovenia 82
France 80
Turkey 79
Serbia 78
Germany 78
Italy 76
Croatia 75
Puerto Rico 74
Brazil 73
Iran 67
England 67
Australia 66
China 65
Angola 64
Canada 64
Mexico 62
Korea 60
Japan 60

BTW, no throwback jerseys (for all NBA teams) Alt’s are in there though.

Likes:

-(Loves!) FIBA
-MVP chants in Dynasty

Dislikes:

-Inability to play all games during a Dynasty!
-Can’t control CPU lineups
-Lack of college draft class support from March Madness
__________________
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Last edited by Pared; 07-08-2008 at 08:51 AM.
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Old 07-07-2008, 08:34 PM   #4
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Re: NBA Live '09 Preview - Community Day Impressions

Gameplay

The bread and butter of sports games, IMO. All the modes in the world are completely worthless if the actual gameplay is not deep, balanced and enjoyable. Live ’08 really gave you basic control over your players with basic animations. As a result, the game (’08) felt very stale for me. There was no real differentiation b/w the players aside from the go-to moves. Rebounding had issues; Teams played similar to each other; Passing was average at best with those ridiculous lobs in the post; Defense was non-existent… to put it simply, the game needed a lot of work.


And a lot of work it got. NBA Live ’09 improved upon MANY of the areas they needed to. First and foremost the game is just flat out fun. If a game isn’t fun for me, it isn’t worth tweaking to try and achieve a more realistic simulation. Live ’09 has advanced in many areas like physics, animation, player interaction… I could go on. It almost did not feel like the same game as last year. The inclusion of many varying animations was a much needed addition to the game. Players visually call out plays with their hands, call for the ball, square up for pump fakes… overall they respond to each other very, very well. Animations looked to be re-mo-capped this year with two players as opposed to one last year… the offense and defense work well together when in motion.

First, Rebounds: They are improved but at the build state I played could certainly still use more work. I had issues when going for the ball. Too many times I would jump to rebound and my player would pull his hands back and jump out of the play. I was told I was missing the timing on the rebounds… perhaps they should lessen this poor jump timing window for players. A player (especially in the low post) RARELY jumps out of the play unless they are pushed and a foul is called… they jump straight up and go for the basketball with intent. The way it is now the guys seem a little passive during rebounds. I want to see them go after basketball with determination and ferocity.

Ball Physics were certainly improved. Things didn’t feel “on rails” and passes felt they could be intercepted and deflected well. Players will stick their arms out and deflect passes, but nothing over the top.

Blocks are certainly improved. Now included are block animations that help limit automatic dunks last year. This includes blocks from behind and side blocks. Again, another area that is all contextual. Some control over the straight block or a swipe would be nice with a risk-reward system.
Icon passing now includes queued passes, so you can hit two guys quickly in succession. I didn’t like the basic, “point to a guy and pass” and IMO Icon Passing allows for more control. I didn’t have any issues with icon passing.

Quickstrike anklebreakers is a cute “street” name for Live’s evolution of freestyle. It’s very well done and is not overly powerful like last year. The reason it works so well is the defense…

Lockdown defense really is a welcome addition to basketball games. Almost all basketball games has the player seemingly involved by “locking on” to the offensive player and watching the guy stay in front of him. Live is the first game where I’ve actually felt involved on defense. There are two levels of lockdown D. The first, is a semi-close level, where you can just stay in front of you man to avoid getting beat. This gives them room to shoot though. The other is a close-up, in-your-face defensive stance where the offensive player can take advantage of QSAB. Also, the game ties ratings heavily into when you can beat a man off the dribble. There are instances where you can make one move and beat a big man easily and others where faster, smaller, better defensive guards can recover. This works very well in the post as you can match your offensive player move for move. If they lean in, you can lean and beat them to the spot. It’s much needed in basketball games as defense finally gets the much needed attention it deserves.

Despite the improvements, post play defense seemed week. The %’s of basket’s scored was too high. This was pointed out to the devs and I'm hoping this gets addressed.

Players were being subbed well at a decent rate. I didn’t feel any impact from fatigue though. Again, this could be because the subs were well done… or perhaps it was the fact we only played 5 minute quarters.

Player momentum was improved. This was slightly overdone with the ball handling, as at times you felt locked in to a move. Hopefully this gets addressed prior to release. I hope they address this the most, as the defender can lock you into a backcourt violation due to animation, something that plagued NBA 2k8.

Fouls also certainly need to be increased from default. If they ship the foul levels as they are now, you will rarely see fouls called in head to head play.

I was looking for more in terms of player specific moves. There are variations of go to moves and shots (like Garnett’s one step, side fade-away at the FT line!) but I didn’t see too many. Perhaps they were there and I didn’t see them… but just know I didn’t see ‘em.

Likes:

-Defense is actually involving now for the player; Easily the biggest improvement with the changes to lock-on D
-Post-play
-Improved Animations bring the gameplay to life


Dislikes:

-Still a few rebounding issues. I want tenacity!
-Post play defense needed work on shots
-Quickstrike responsiveness needed improvement

Last edited by Pared; 07-08-2008 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 07-07-2008, 08:43 PM   #5
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Re: NBA Live '09 Preview - Community Day Impressions

There you guys have it. Enjoy.

Please try and keep questions in this thread:

http://www.operationsports.com/forums/nba-live/254865-ask-me-anything-about-nba-live-09-a.html

Thanks fellas.

Addendum:

As for most of the concerns....

I honestly think most of them can be be addressed in some way shape or form prior to release. At the very least, sliders might help limit some of the issues that aren't addressed.

The key thing I want to point out was the game was just fun.Guys at the community day openly revealed how they hadn't enjoyed a Live game in years and were having a blast with this buggy, unfinished build of the game so far. I think that is saying something HUGE about this title.

The title is certainly worth a look this year as the game wasn't overly complicated but didn't feel like it sacrifice realism/was arcade influenced. I honestly think they're headed on the right path and certainly closing the gap in the basketball video game genre.
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Last edited by Pared; 07-08-2008 at 08:59 AM.
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Old 07-07-2008, 08:55 PM   #6
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Re: NBA Live '09 Preview - Community Day Impressions



Great write-up Pared.

Thanks for your time and effort, I am sure that everyone greatly appreciates it.
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Old 07-07-2008, 08:55 PM   #7
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Re: NBA Live '09 Preview - Community Day Impressions

Great job Pared.

Did you notice that the ball and rim interaction was better this year? Last year the ball interacted with the rim and nets very poorly.
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Old 07-07-2008, 08:58 PM   #8
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Re: NBA Live '09 Preview - Community Day Impressions

Can you talk about stopping on a dime and shooting? Pull-up jumpers? This is something I hated on NBA 2K8, and on Live 08 when you tried to do it the players fell into a leaning shot animation where everyone shot the same.

So do players set their feet when they pull up? or do they just go straight up like they were set.

Thanks.
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