They Love This Game: NBA Live 98

by Alan Zisman (c) 1998. First published in Computer Player, February, 1998

review of EA Sports NBA Live 98
from Electronic Arts Canada
about $60

Earlier this sports game season, we assembled a team of hard-core 13 year old boys to look at the cream of the crop of computer hockey games, to pick the CD-ROM to best let Canadian youth sharpen their virtual skates and head for the digital ice.

But with both Toronto and Vancouver now sporting NBA basketball franchises, perhaps there?s competition for the sport that most captures the attention of our young. Certainly, our reviewers were looking forward to the chance of turning their attention to the NBA on-screen.

But while we were able to make the hockey game feature into a shoot-out between Virgin?s PowerPlay 98 and Electronic Arts? NHL 98, the NBA comparison turned out to be no contest. Acclaim Sports never responded to our efforts to obtain a copy of their NBA JAM Extreme (booo!). And while Microsoft Canada promptly sent a copy of their basketball game, Full Court Press, the company decided not to update it for the 1997-98 season, and withdrew it from the market.

That left our panel with a single game: Electronic Arts? NBA Live 98. Luckily, like the company?s NHL 98, they found that once again, EA Sports had produced a winner.

The game ships in Sony Playstation on PC/Windows 95-CD versions; our panel looked at the PC version. It requires at least a P-100 with 16 megs of RAM, with 50 megs of drive space. Multiple players can connect via modem or network, with help from EA in matching up potential on-line players (go to

The program boasts of including 400 NBA players with increased realism based on 3-D polygon animation based on motion-capturing real team members in action. (Superstar Michael Jordan, however, was represented by a faceless Number 89 named ?Guard?).

Our panel members, Joey and Frankie both reported that the game was easy to learn, with (for a change) a useful instruction manual. The boys enjoyed the announcing, by TNT network Ernie Johnson Jr. , which they felt did a good job of following the game action, and added to the realistic feel. The realism was enhanced by the look of the court, according to Joey, who was impressed by the marks on the court and on the hoop. Frankie found the use of actual players? faces (except for Jordan?s) an improvement over earlier games that featured identical clones. Frankie complained, however, that the sound effects were a little too quiet, but Joey especially liked sounds such as the ball hitting the ground and people bumping into one another.

Both boys hoped that next year, EA will improve the jams. Frankie hoped that ?when the guy jumps up and puts it in, he should have a little move?, while Joey fantasized a ?monster jam? if a player makes three shots in a row, the ball would catch on fire or shatter the glass.? Even so, the panel agreed that EA Sports has another winner here, with both boys giving NBA Live 98 a perfect 1

Search WWW Search

Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan