Wednesday, October 8, 2008

NBA Live 08 Redux

Oh, before I get into this here's my late and at this point moot review of NHL 09.

Still playing a lot of Live 09 -- still waiting for a copy of NBA 2K9...

But I'm gathering my review notes and pulled up my review of NBA Live 08. In it I said:

Line: NBA Live 08 is clearly a step up from last year’s disaster, but it still lags behind the competition.

Hot: Player Hot Zones is a cool idea; “Go To” moves work extremely well; Quick Strike is fluid; Improved AI

Not: Unstoppable point guards; Terrible rebounding; Jerky running animations; Slow menus; Not enough plays

Player hot zones is still a cool idea. Rebounding is better but still not "right" IMO and the animations remain "so so" and the plays are no longer an issue thanks to the DNA thing.

The PGs are no longer unstoppable -- now it's the low post players. To test this out I started playing with Portland and I have Oden getting 30 a night on Superstar.

Here's the thing.

In basketball, maybe more than any other sport, the AI needs to adjust to what you're doing. All sports games need to do this but here it's especially noticeable. If I call the exact same play 20 times in a row, all calling for Oden to run to the low block and call for the ball from the baseline, back up the defender and turn and shoot a soft jump hook from 3 feet out -- the AI needs to counter this. It HAS TO. It has to start denying that entry pass. It has to start doubling quicker. It has to do something to stop ME from doing what I want to do. Better yet it needs to force Oden to get that pass 10 feet from the hoop rather than 5. Force him off that block.

If the defensive AI merely runs the same defense, even if they bring over someone from the weakside to help (usually a friggin' guard) it's going to

A) Get destroyed and
B) Get predictable

This is one of the things I adore about NHL 09 -- that game is NOT predictable at all. It's fluid. And despite my grumblings I'm still playing it daily.

Live 09, despite ALL of the strides it has made (which are many) is very predictable on defense and it saps the fun out of the game for me when playing off line. I call that same play to Oden and he does the exact same thing and the AI reacts the exact same way every single time down the floor.

Now, do I have to run that same play? Of course not. But that's missing the point. Just knowing I CAN and knowing how the AI will defend it (i.e. not very well) is a big deal.