NBA Live 08 Demo Now Available, Impressions Inside
New demos seem to be a daily happening on the Xbox Live Marketplace, and today is no different. Sports fans can hop onto the Marketplace today and download a demo of NBA Live 08 (562 MB). After last year’s absolutely atrocious outing, EA Sports really needed to release a solid demo to regain any semblance of confidence in the NBA Live brand.
The demo sticks you on the court for a shootaround with Gilbert Arenas, allowing some time to adjust to the game’s controls and new features before heading into a real game. Playing as either San Antonio, Cleveland or two international teams, you’ll have two two-minute quarters to sample the game before being kicked back to the dashboard – which is incredibly annoying, because if you want to play another game (which, if you’re actually interested in the game, you will) you’ll need to go to the demos area in the dashboard, find the NBA Live 08 demo, and boot it again (with subsequent load times, natch).
Check after the break for my impressions of the demo.
The first thing you’ll do in the demo is be dropped onto a halfcourt setting controlling Gilbert Arenas with basketballs laying all over the court. Some help pop-ups instruct you on how to make use of the game’s new features – primarily the advanced ball control and signature shots. You’re free to screw around for as long as you wish (at least I think so; I never got any sort of indication that there was a time limit) before selecting a team matchup to play a real game. While only four teams are available – San Antonio, Cleveland, and two international teams – you can browse through the rest of the league and see their respective ratings.
After finalizing your starting lineup, you’re treated to some NBA trivia while the game loads. After only two games I began seeing the same questions recycled – hopefully that’s just a limitation of the demo. You’ll abruptly be pulled into the arena from the trivia/loading screen and be treated to the fancy presentation you’d expect out of a sports game, with each starting player from the home team getting an introduction much like the star players in Madden NFL 08 do – it’s amazing how much crossover there is between the EA Sports titles this year.
The game itself plays much better than last year, and certainly feels like a dramatic improvement as soon as you see the game in motion. The game is incredibly good looking and the crowds seem adequately animated, while the action of the floor looks super-smooth thanks largely in part to Live 08’s 60 frames per second framerate. Players for the most part seem to play within themselves and similarly to their real-life counterparts, although I had a few instances where Zydrunas Ilgausakas was running the floor a little too well for a man his size.
As far as shots go, everything seemed fairly accurate and I didn’t run into any “OMG IMPOSSIBLE” moments; everything seemed realistic at the default difficulty setting. I did have two gripes with the controls which equated to the only negative aspect of the demo – holding the right bumper brings up icon passing, which is all fine and dandy. But tapping the right bumper throws an alley-oop, so I unwittingly threw up a few alley-oops because I hadn’t waited long enough for the icon passing to come into effect. A small nuisance, but worth noting. The other control-related problem I had was that icon passing uses only the face buttons, meaning that each position doesn’t have a fixed button you can press to get the ball to the player you want. Again, it’s nothing big, but it’ll certainly take some adjusting for an NBA 2K7 veteran like myself.