NBA2K's days on the top could very well be numbered.
Update: Oct. 31, 2001
Even more new screens have appeared, and we bring them to you incorporated in our preview. There are so many of them, we decided to put the overflow on a seperate page.
I used to wear my "I own this years version of NBA Live!" badge with pride, but it's since been shunned away to darkness and confinement after my beloved series began to wither away with Live 2000's choppy gameplay, and then even further with 2001's bare bones options and sluggish controls on the Playstation 2.
And while the NBA Live series was falling apart at the seams, Sega's NBA2K ran in like a bat out of Haiti and snatched the rug out from under EA's feet - taking not only the crown as best basketball series, but the hearts of gamers as well. "Who needs NBA Live when we have NBA2K!" the masses proclaimed.
Where was EA while Sega stole the show? I'll tell you - deep inside a laboratory, eating, sleeping, and drinking basketball, making friends with Steve Francis, and plotting a triumphant return to reclaim its crown from Sega. This glorious return: NBA Live 2002.
I specifically use the word "glorious" for a reason. EA Sports has literally gone back to the drawing board adding hundreds of new mo-capped animations, over 50 new dunks and celebrations, better control in terms of shot selection, rebounding, and post play, an improved frame rate, new player-player and player-referee interaction, "Jam Cams" and "Swat Cams" for action packed motion blurred replays, a simplified interface for quick and easy gameplay, and much more. Back to the drawing board - that's a major understatement. Try "EA went commando on NBA Live". Now that's justice!
The graphics engine has received the treatment as well, and things now resemble NBA Street more than anything else (very, very good thing). Players in general are smoother and not quite so glossy, and realistic body sizes have been implemented so that Shaq will not look as skinny as Allen Iverson al a Live 2001.
Furthermore, EA has finally given the players more diversity than just their number and ethnic background. Player accessories, tattoo's, hair-styles, officially licensed shoes, and the like have all been dutifully applied to every player in the game, with even more detail going into the exquisite facial animation.
Although it's hardly "new", the franchise mode will return to Live 2002 after sitting out last year's effort. As the General Manager, you'll perform the typical sign, trade, release tasks for up to ten seasons, while scouting and drafting new rookies along the way. Other gameplay modes, such as one-on-one and the highflying arcade mode, will return from 2001's outing as well.
No word yet on whether we get all new in-depth commentary with this package, or if there'll be any significant difference between the Xbox and PS2 versions of NBA Live 2002. With EA having overhauled the game to such an extent, it's a wonder the name is even the same.
"Young Warrior" William Pulley
Still owns NBA Live '95 for the Sega Genesis.