By Al Giovetti, 03/16/97
NBA Live '97
The EA Sports group in Canada has been turning out the best sports simulation games in the marketplace for over three years. The three dimensional players from other EA games such as NHL '97 are used in the current game. The players are incredibly detailed.
Company LineThe Soul of Hoops: Fake left, then go baseline. Launch past the defender and swing around for the reverse jam. Hang on the rim for a split second then hit the ground running to get back on D. This game is Live. NBA Live 97 is where the players play. Real NBA moves. Real NBA skills and strategy. Real players. Like you. Right?
All 29 stadiums are portrayed in their actual brilliance and details down to the graphics both on and off the court, even in the bleachers. All 29 NBA teams are represented with their 1996-97 season rosters, with full season and play-off play. Over 400 NBA players including Rookies and Free Agents have a complete sets of authentic statistics you can create, trade and release players, and save and create your own stats. Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan's statistics are not included in the game. You cannot alter the real players' stats or update the rosters by the contract.
Game play now includes 60 authentic offensive plays and ten authentic defensive plays which can be activated with preset hot keys or while in time out. The plays seem to yield the same results as simply running the ball down the field and shooting. Baseline foul shots are still flawed with awkward and imprecise controls. Difficulty levels of rookie, starter, and all star make the game accessable to different levels of ability. Players make jump shots, dunks, taunt other players, and you will even see player knock downs during the game.
Different teams play and control differently. Statistics for individual players cause them to play like they do in real life. You can create your own players complete with the name on the jersey and individual stats. The computer artificial intelligence still leaves a lot to be desired. Inexplicable fouls and missed opportunities are typical when playing with the AI on even your own players.
In spite of the separate statistics all players seem to run, jump, shoot, score, and play the same. Jump shots have sweet spots to shoot from making your shots more accurate
Play through one game or an entire season including playoffs while playing against and with some of the NBA greats. The game play includes exhibitions, Playoffs or full Season play.
You will find Shaquille O'Neal in this game but not Michael Jordan or Charles Barkley who would not release their names to be used in the game.
The jerseys hae official team logos, numbers, names, striping, and authentic colors. The individual player characters have muscular definition and body hair. The characters are no longer two dimensional sprites but now they are three dimensional rendered polygon-based characters.
The mannerisms and motion capture of Charles Barkley and Micheal Jordan do not appear in the game. Motion capture wsas don by Mitch 'Rock' Richmond from the Sacramento Kings, making every player have Mitch's mannerisms and moves.
AnimationMotion capture was used to film NBA players and produce increadibly detailed players right down to the muscle definithion shading and hair on legs, arms, and face. Player moves include over the back slam dunks, tip shots, crossover dribbles, behind the back passes and other authentic NBA moves.
Voice ActorsThe voices include NBA arena announcer and commentary from TNT's Ernie Johnson, Jr. who does a great job giving a play by play for shots, assists, fouls, substitutions and other court action.
Music ScoreNew for this version of NBA Live is a full music soundtrack.
Sound EffectsNet swish sounds and sneaker squeeks add to the action by increasing realism.
UtilitiesSupport for Gravis Gamepad, GrIP system, and four button joysticks do not utilize all four buttons, only two.
Multi-player FeaturesThe game works over phone or null modem (direct serial connection) with two players, and four player on network but not internet. We all want to know when to expect internet play. The Electronic Arts Multiplayer Matchup Service is up and running on their web site.
Cheats, Hints, WalkthroughNBA Live '97 Cheats
Tim Tschimer's NBA 1997 statistics including Jordan and Barkley
JournalistsBernie points out how good the announcer was, even getting excited on good plays. The announcer adjusts to situations resulting in high machine requirements.
ReferencesEA Sports NBA Live '97 Web Page
Steve Klett, PC Games, volume 4, number 3, March, 1997, pg. 84, 88%.
Jeff Green, Computer Gaming World, issue 154, April, 1997, pg. 104 - 107, 90%.
Bernard Dy, Computer & Net Player, volume 3, number 11, April, 1997, pg. 80, 90%.
Mike Salmon, PC Gamer, volume 4, number 4, April, 1997, pg. 98-99, 84%.