NBA Live 09 Sony PSP review

Basketball on the PSP — and not very well done…

Basketball isn’t a huge sport in my country, but that doesn’t mean it can’t make an enjoyable console game does it?

The NBA series of titles is the official FIBA line, much like there’s FIFA for soccer and Madden for NFL football. It’s another from EA’s stable, and as such I was wary from the outset. As impressed as I was with Madden 09 on the PS3, EA has a habit with its sporting titles of either delivering something wonderful on the night or not actually turning up.

If you’d like some basketball parlance to summarise my reaction to NBA Live 09, then there are very few three-point scores here, and more than the occasional bout of travelling.

The first issue I had was going out of bounds when controlling a player. That’s because moving anywhere near the edges of the court. it’s almost guaranteed for him to end up out of play.

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But actually player movement, interaction and scoring all have noticeable problems the majority of which where seen in previous NBA Live outings. I never played NBA Live 07, but a colleague told me that some of the problems I encountered in this were prevalent in that version, and they’re definitely there in the 08 release.

So how different is 09 from NBA Live 08? Not much at all.

A quick trip through the menus revealed a few new features, like a new TV angle, but those looking for substantial change – or even improvement – wont’ be happy. Actually, the game graphics – while they look slightly smarter – seem to have hurt the fluidity of the game, or at least on my original PSP. Later I discovered that deep in the menus it’s possible to speed up the game, which begs the questions why this isn’t the default , and if this impacts on your battery life? Whatever the answer, it’s dumb.

They’ve chucked in a 2-on-2 mode, and expanded the FIBA Championships with international playing. Europeans will laugh as usual at the notion of FIBA ‘World Championships’, as it’s in exactly the same mode as the Baseball ‘World Series’, which at the last count included two countries, Canada and the USA.

But actually I’m going away from the point, I’m distracted and I’ve just dribbled the ball straight out of bounds. The overall this game is decidedly underwhelming in almost all aspects, a warm-over at best and somewhat boring at worst. As sporting simulations go this isn’t one that’s going to win any prizes, and unless NBA is your only interest then I’d look elsewhere, possibly NBA 09 The Inside. Or alternatively just buy NBA Live 08 from the bargain bin and Tipp-Ex the 8 into a 9, demonstrating you’re as equally creative as EA.

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2 out of 5