GAME REVIEWS: NBA Live 06

EA Sports (Xbox 360)
Game ••• Graphics/Sound ••••½
From Tayshaun Prince's freckles to Ben Wallace's tattoos, NBA ballers have never looked more lifelike in a videogame. Even their jerseys show fine detail, right down to the weave pattern. As the game wears on, you'll see fatigue set in as sweat begins to run down the players' skin. Arenas are meticulously recreated (with every seat, step, and railing accounted for), and court surfaces are equally impressive (floorboards show imperfections, and team logos look like real paint over wood). Meanwhile, crowds get realistically fired up or quieted down depending on how well the home team is playing and how much time is left on the clock.

But despite the awesome A/V, you'll cry foul over the awkward camera angle, which keeps its distance instead of following you down the court, making the game more difficult to play. It's also way too hard to hit a free throw, which means gamers can foul an opponent every time he tries to dunk - an unfair tactic that results in a turnover. Then there's the real cheap shot: Live for Xbox 360 lacks many popular gameplay features like Dynasty Mode, the Slam Dunk Contest, and unique Freestyle Superstar moves - which shows that EA Sports wasn't able to beat the buzzer signaling the launch of Xbox 360. Still, this rookie could come back as an all-star next year if it bulks up with those missing features.

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