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Michael Jordan joins the NBA Live 2000 roster

November 24, 1999
Web posted at: 4:14 p.m. EST (2114 GMT)

by iBot

Action Shots

(IDG) -- NBA is alive and well on the Nintendo 64 with EA Sports' NBA Live 2000, the sixth version of their popular pro hoops franchise. This year "sports" a whole slew of new bells and whistles, but do they add to game play or is it just a distraction?

Old reliable

EA has a huge fan base to rely on for this franchise, but they have to be wary of resting on their laurels while other new and innovative basketball games (most notably Sega's NBA 2K) hit the shelves to compete.

This year's Live includes new features that build on what the games are known for -- solid, realistic game play. Motion-captured moves from NBA All-Star Kevin Garnett, real color commentary and play-by-play, facial animations, and player celebrations after big plays all bring Live closer to the real thing.

But by far the biggest news about NBA Live 2000 is the inclusion of just one new player. It may not sound like much, but when it's Michael Jordan, it makes all the difference.

Play MJ in a one-on-one street ball game and if you beat him, you unlock him to play in the rest of the game. Drop him back into the Bulls line-up or on your favorite team to help them win the crown. Just remember to save your rosters or you will have to beat him again -- which is no easy task.

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Good from afar, but far from good

The graphics for NBA Live 2000 still look good, but good may not be enough when the power of the Dreamcast and 3D-accelerated PCs now produce amazing visuals. The players look and move realistically from the default far-camera view, but upon the close examination of replay, the graphics show substantial weakness.

The backgrounds are especially poor, as a flat animated map covers the stands to try and fool you into believing there are fans in attendance. They definitely could have done better.

Sound is strong, just like most EA sports titles. They know how to get that real sports arena feel to the games. From balls hitting the rim to sneakers squeaking and the occasional player celebration, the sound is great.

But unfortunately the play-by-play isn't on the same level. Like all N64 ports, it has less audio on the cartridge than the PSX version, so it's more repetitive and also suffers from a noticeable lag on most plays. You'll already be running back on defense by the time they say who just shot the jumper.

NBA Live has always been about top-notch and realistic game play. Unfortunately on N64 they have to contend with a controller that is just not suited for sports games. The analog stick makes tight defense and baseline tip-toeing moves impossible.

Leader of the pack?

Most of the innovations are good (especially including MJ), but the graphical weaknesses and the useless Arcade mode make NBA Live 2000 seem like there's room at the top for another hoops title to take the crown on Nintendo 64.

Graphics: 3.5
The game looks good from longer camera angles, but the closer you get the worse it gets. The crowd graphics are just plain bad.

Sound: 4.0
Solid effects and game atmospheric sounds - even down to the subtle details. But the play-by-play lags behind events on the court and is too repetitive.

Control: 3.0
All the good controls you want are here, but the N64 controller isn't able to handle it. The analog stick makes exact character control impossible and creates lots of frustrating turnovers.

Fun Factor: 4.0
Still a solid game, and playing Michael Jordan is a blast, but the controls and graphical weaknesses take away from an otherwise terrific sequel to the venerable hoops title.

Pro Tips

  • Try and steal the ball all the time. The computer doesn't call many reach-in fouls and you are often successful, even at higher skill levels.

  • Pass the ball around on offense, the computer's D is hard to penetrate with the dribble drive. Icon passing (the C-buttons) gets you inside more easily.

  • Make sure you commit your defensive player all the way on a double team, don't just let him float in an open space. You'll be called for illegal defense.

  • Hold down the Z-button to face up to a player on defense. This makes it easier to stop a quick, penetrating player like Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson or Michael Jordan.

  • Try playing Reggie Miller or Glen Rice against MJ one-on-one. Hit a three-pointer to get ahead and then finish him off with foul line jumpers.

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