EA Mobile has been rocking it up with the releases including Command and Conquer: Red Alert and Rock Band for the iPhone and iPod Touch. When the first screens and news of NBA Live appeared, I was excited and overjoyed, but I still kept my expectations in check. A basketball game on the iPhone is really not a genre that’s filled, and most of the basketball games that are on the App Store are pretty bad.
That’s where NBA Live falls in. But no, I’m not talking about the “good basketball games” category, I’m talking about the bad. Usually, Electronic Arts does a great job with providing the gamer with an adequate AI, while giving up some of the graphics to make room for it. In this basketball game, the AI is ultimately retarded , for lack of a better word, and even with my five year old basketball skills, I swoosh by the AI like there’s no tomorrow.
Graphics: Presentation isn’t top notch, but it’s acceptable. It’s a lot better looking than Madden 10 on the iPhone, and the presentation seems to be more on par with FIFA 10. Since there’s really no other basketball game to compare NBA Live to, we’ll have to see how other developers improve upon this genre. For now, NBA Live doesn’t look that bad at all, especially since it’s running on my iPhone.
Controls: This section is the one I was most worried about, and if the controls sucked, the game sucked. We’ve seen this happen in Asphalt 4 along with some other games, and if the concept was good but the controls were horrendous, the game was usually deemed as “really bad” or “don’t buy this game”.
NBA Live consists of a virtual joystick along with some action buttons on the right hand side, and these seem to work very well. I was surprised with how responsive the buttons were, and the highlight around the buttons were nice to see if you actually touched the button or not. While some control buttons like the “steal” button are still a bit iffy, the overall control scheme works and it does its job well.
AI: I usually don’t notice the AI or how retarded it is, but NBA Live has got to pack in some of the worst AI I have ever seen in my life. After five minutes of NBA Live, the AI had made tons and tons of mistakes, and there were times when I would make the weirdest shots in the world.
For example, one time I was facing my back towards the opponent’s net, and I press the shoot button to shoot the ball. Instead of turning around and shooting it, my player shoots backwards with his back towards the net and without looking at all. He makes a 3-point shot that way.
Another fault with the AI seems to be the fact that the opponent throws the ball out of bounds with no one near the ball. This seems to be a little bit unrealistic if you ask me, and the AI was pretty disappointing and unchallenging when it came to passing.
Stealing the ball is another factor that the AI just seems to miss altogether. I have the ability to dribble the ball all the way down to their side and slam dunk the ball with little to no AI resistance, and when the ball is right in front of the opponent’s face, they usually chose to stand there and look professional.
I’m sorry, but the AI is absolutely horrendous. I didn’t really feel there was anything else wrong with the game, but the AI totally ruined the NBA Live experience on my iPhone. If you’re looking for a realistic basketball game, NBA Live is most likely going to disappoint as it seems to feature totally unrealistic opponents along with some unrealistic shots. NBA Live is in desperate need of saving via updates, but for now, NBA Live fails to provide a basketball sim experience on the iPhone and iPod Touch.