Handheld hoopsters have a reason to celebrate, as EA's newest hardwood title for the PSP connects from downtown in just about every way possible. Unlike last year's competent (if uninspired) debut, this year's NBA Live feels less like a scaled-down port than a full-fledged title on its own, thanks to rock-solid gameplay, the addition of tons of content, and some snazzy exclusive mini-games that happen to be pretty darned fun to play. In fact, we're so jazzed by it that we're here to say it's easily the best basketball game available for Sony's portable machine, and one that no b-ball fanatic should be without.
Naturally, on the court is where it matters the most. From tip-off to the final buzzer, the action is smooth and authentic. The game's default difficulty is a little on the easy side, so after a few games to familiarize ourselves with the goings on, we bumped it up to All-Star and settled in for good. Passing, shooting, switching players, defending, even play calling are intuitive, while the video and audio is about as slick as can be hoped for on the small screen.
Happily, the folks at EA have not tried to force lots of extra freestyle superstar options onto the control scheme. Rather, the game feels like it takes the most advantage of the PSP setup, letting you manage your above-the-rim hijinks with high-flying superstars via an L trigger-face button combo. It works, and works well.
Take your pick from the heaps of stuff to do - seasons, playoffs, dynasties, All-Star weekends, and mini-games. This includes the Superstar Challenge, our absolute favorite. We love getting placed into real-game situations, being tasked with matching an individual player's performance, like the night Kobe dropped 81 on the hapless Raptors or Dirk led the Mavs back from a 19-point deficit. It's also a great way of seeing all the different players and teams, especially when you're caught up in your own club's dynastic aspirations. Even better, completing the goals unlocks scads of valuable goodies, like teams of legendary players and all sorts of throwback jerseys. We may be decidedly old-school, but there's no denying that it kicks ass getting our game on with the likes of Wilt the Stilt, Oscar Robertson, and dozens of other hoop heroes.