Basketball gets full season with NBA Live 99

by Alan Zisman (c) 1999. First published in Toronto Computes, February 1999

Electronic Arts Sports
NBA Live 99
About $60
for Windows PC, Playstation, N64

For a while, it was looking like this would be the year without basketball. As it is, sports fans get a shortened series, and life without Michael Jordan.

But all is not lost. There?s always computer games. And once again, the best has gotten better. Electronic Arts Sports lets fans play a full-length 1998-99 series with this year?s version of their best-seller: NBA Live 99, for Windows PCs, and Playstation, and N-64 game systems.

In many ways, the game looks and works like last years??it will be instantly familiar to players of previous versions.

As always, the teams, uniforms, and rosters have been updated. This year?s version offers improved animation and game play?new moves, and facial expressions. Fans will find many of their favorite players are recognizable, and that they look happy or sad depending on how that big play comes out.

The game offers a range of modes. New this year (and also featured in the company?s NHL 99 game) is a practice mode?a good way to hone skills. No crowd, no competition, just you and the player of your choice building skills. Alternatively, there?s an arcade mode offering wild non-stop action, with fast setup, and a sense of anything goes, though the game still lacks NBA Jam?s flaming basketballs.

Of course, you can follow your team through a season, but for the patient amongst you, you can also build a team over a decade of seasons. Watch young players mature and mature players age. Trade with other teams to build a winning combination. You can even start completely from scratch?creating a new team from the expansion draft and taking ten years to try to season it into championship material. (Toronto and Vancouver fans have the chance to improve on the local efforts this way). You can short-circuit time by playing less-than 82-game seasons, and adjust game time from two to twelve minutes per quarter in order to speed up dynasty-building.

While the game offers great gameplay combined with cutting edge looks, PC-users should be warned: the game was released with a bug requiring users to be connected to the Internet in order to start the game. The fix is to go to the game?s NBA99 folder, and find the file nba99.ini. Double-clicking it opens the file in Windows Notepad?look for a line with the word: ?tickerspeed? and set it to 0.

As well, the NBA lockout made it impossible for EA to include rookies in this year?s rosters?the company has promised downloadable team updates. And even if Michael Jordan hadn?t retired, he has kept his player out of the virtual game. (Hacks on the Internet let users add him anyway).

All in all, this year?s version remains another of EA Sports? champions?lots of fun to play alone, against another player, or across a network or the Internet. And it?s a way to play all those games lost due to the lockout.

Search WWW Search

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