NBA Live is literally a one-of-a-kind iPhone app — and not a bad game to boot

Nov 17, 2009
Games

I think it’s safe to say we’ve seen enough EA Sports games on the iPhone to get a good idea of what the company has to offer. EA’s latest release is the basketball franchise NBA Live, and just like their previous efforts, it’s a solid game with relatively few flaws. Not only is this the […]

I think it’s safe to say we’ve seen enough EA Sports games on the iPhone to get a good idea of what the company has to offer. EA’s latest release is the basketball franchise NBA Live, and just like their previous efforts, it’s a solid game with relatively few flaws.

Not only is this the first five-on-five basketball action we’ve seen on the iPhone, the game has all 30 NBA teams and real-life attributes for each of the players. The only other NBA licensed game we’ve seen so far is Flick NBA Basketball, and NBA Live is a far superior game in every way.

The graphics won’t blow you away, but they are similar to what you’ll find in Madden 2010 or FIFA 2010. The menus are top notch, and like EA’s other games, it includes a soundtrack similar to the console version of the game.

The game play does feel a bit frenetic at times, or at the very least a little rushed. I almost feel this is a conscious choice, though, as the app comes across as an arcade game more so than a simulation. Further examples of this are the quarter length (three minutes) and the control scheme (a d-pad and two buttons).

Don’t get me wrong, this game isn’t NBA Jam or NBA Street, but it does have a different feel than the series’ console releases. Still, the game is simply fun to play, and that’s the most important thing.

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While the basic controls aren’t all that impressive, you do make a shooting style motion with the iPhone to shoot free throws. It’s a fantastic addition, and EA seems to throw one of these wrinkles into each of their games.

Like Madden, the game includes an exhibition mode, season mode and playoff mode. You can also trade players and sign free agents.

The biggest complaint will likely be the cost of the app — $9.99. I’m not here to defend the price; all I will say is that if you want a basketball game for you iPhone, NBA Live isn’t the best option — it’s the only option.

The only things I found disappointing with the app is a lack of modes (a superstar mode similar to what FIFA has would be great) and the lack of quarter-length options. Aside from that, it’s as good a sports game as we’ve got on the iPhone.

Hopefully, NBA Live won’t suffer from a lack of competition — this is the first EA Sports release to which Gameloft hasn’t offered an alternative. But at least we’ve finally got an actual basketball game for the iPhone, and that alone is worth celebrating.

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David Lister

David Lister is a freelance writer in Chicago. He is a former editor and writer at the NationalSportsReview.com and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. 

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