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PLAY: NBA Live 2001 - EA Sports

Publisher: EA Sports
Formats Available: Playstation 1 & 2, PC 
RRP: £29.99

"Experience the NBA.. Live!" boasts EA's latest edition of its long-time basketball monster game. That the series, updated annually, seems to have been around for ever only makes you peek extra closer for new additions each time.

But some things never change. Like any EA release, the game-play is superb. Once you've figured out all the controls and then remember that they change around when you go from offense to defense, it's simple to operate.

The graphics (which we saw on a PS One) get better each time - although we did wonder about John Amaechi's robotically square jaw implant, the images look frighteningly close to most players and EA seem to have gone at lengths to replicate their particular foibles as we found when we sent Shaq to the foul line (1/4 anyone?).

There is a selection of high-flying dunks, celebrations and trademark shows but never do they detract from the basics of the game which give it the authentic feel. Several different levels mean than there is something to test the most joystick-ally challenged as well as those with too much spare time on their hands.

The options are varied too - play an exhibition or an entire season, while promised - although we never managed it so far - are bonus points which can unlock such addition benefits such as "hairstyles and shoes". There's even a legends All-Star squad for those who like their NBA old-time.

You can also go one-on-one with Michael Jordan but the thrill of that wears off after five seconds in one of the more disappointing aspects of the game. But there is still a vast amount more to make it worth a few addictive hours in front of the screen.

If you own NBA Live 2000, there's no particular incentive to upgrade unless you happen to like last year's rookie class. Howevert if you want computerised hoops, then this is still the Vince Carter of the range.

Rating:  7/10

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