November 14, 2005 - Remember when Michael Jordan was more than just a bald head? When players like Tom Chambers could dunk from the three-point line and Sir Charles threw down gorilla slams from the free throw line. Those "good old days" of basketball videogames introduced individuality to the genre, separating His Airness, The Glide, and Larry Legend from the role players lucky enough to ever sub in a game.
For some reason, as basketball videogames evolved, the individuality disappeared. Sure, with improved graphics you could actually read the tattoos on your favorite player's bicep, but you couldn't tell the difference in move sets between a player like Baron Davis and Andre Miller. They're drastically different players in real life, but in videogames, a point guard is a point guard, and as long as he's quick, he's your man.
NBA Live 06 brings the individuality back into the game of videogame hoops as EA makes the old school new again, showcasing dunkers as high flyers, flashy passers as playmakers, and shooters as, well, shooters, separating the best of the best from the rest on the bench and turning NBA Live into a game where it actually matters what team you play as.
A game where the Suns will run you off the court with Steve Nash, Amare, and The Matrix, and the Pistons will lock you up with defensive stoppers from the point to the paint.
And by finally focusing their attention on the superstars of the NBA and the individuality that makes them special, EA Sports has finally developed an elite five-on-five basketball game worth buying the second it hits shelves.
The NBA Live series has had its ups and downs over the years, and a few years ago, the series was more down than up... and I mean way, way down. But as the series started building back up and EA Sports started to add innovative features into the mix, from Freestyle shakes to the Pro Hop, the series continued to improve, but at the same time, never felt quite right. They were on the verge of something big, but never delivered the complete package that basketball fans have wanted. But with the addition of Freestyle Superstar moves, the highflying dunks of Vince Carter and the slick shooting of Peja from beyond the arc, the gameplay all comes together as not a work in progress, but the game we should've been playing all along.
What I mean is that you can now link the moves that have built up throughout the years to pull off show-stopping sequences the likes have never been captured in a videogame. Bring the ball up the court with Steve Nash, use freestyle to break the ankles of your defender, Pro Hop into the paint to slide past the trap, then use the simplistic Superstar controls (hold the left trigger and the face buttons become your move set) to use Playmaker passing to whip the rock behind your back to Amare who grabs the ball and uses his Power moves to not only dunk the ball with authority, but swing the Stoudemire family jewels in the face of the man who was trying to guard him. There are Superstar moves out of the triple threat, passes, blocks, steal, dunks, outside jumpers, set shots, and leaners. You can bank the ball off glass as Tim Duncan, throw no-look passes as Jason Kidd, even rise to the rim for a thundering slam as King James.
These are the moves that made the superstars famous, and now these are the moves that truly make a difference in every game of NBA Live 06.
There are six Superstar characteristics in total (Power, Playmaker, Scorer, Shooter, High Flyer, and Stopper), and depending on the player ratings, players can be assigned one Superstar ability on both offense and defense. So players like Kobe Bryant have the option of being a High Flyer, Inside Scorer, Outside Scorer, Playmaker, or Shooter, on offense, and an Outside Stopper on defense. Other players like Josh Smith don't have those options and will be limited to simply being a High Flyer. But hey, that's better than his Atlanta teammates as no one else on the team even qualifies for a single Superstar ability. Again, player ratings determine what players can be assigned specific attributes, so if they don't bring the goods in the NBA, they're not going to all of a sudden start bouncing the ball to themselves for a self alley-oop on the break.