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Review by: Shawn Quigley
Published: October 21, 1997
For many people, the movie Hoosiers brings back good feelings; it represents the game of basketball at its greatest moments. The clock’s running down…you’re behind by a point…it is up to you to take the ball and shoot it at the buzzer to win the game. Will it go in?
NBA Live 98 offers a whole set of new features that are meant to help propel the game into another league. In this year’s version of NBA Live there is a new set of options for controlling the players on the court. Included in those controls are the ability to directly pass the ball to any player on the court, cross over dribbling, a new set of dunks that can be controlled, and various other enhancements that let the gamer have more control over his players on the floor. Other new features include a new three-point shoot-out, an enhanced general manager mode, enhanced AI, and play-by-play commentary by Verne Lundquist of TNT Sports.
After watching an amazing introduction to the game, you are brought into the newly designed main menu screen. From this menu, there is a set of options that you can access. There are four major sections to the main menu. The first is the Game Mode section. This area lets you choose the type of game that you would like to play. The different options are: exhibition, season, playoffs, gm, 3 pt. shoot-out, and multiplayer. Exhibition games are self-explanatory, but basically allow you to choose any two teams included in the game and play.
In season mode, you can play through an entire simulated NBA season. You can choose how many games will make up that season (82, 56, 28), with the default being 82, which is the length of a regular NBA season. The main screen of the season mode is the schedule screen. It is from here that you can view your current standing, simulate games, view stats and rosters, and review team injuries. While playing in season mode, you can play out games or just have them simulated for you. This will let you quickly get to the playoffs and try to take it all by winning the championship. Midway into the season there is an All-Star game that puts the top players for that particular season against each other. At the end of the season, a screen appears giving you the tree that represents the playoffs; you will have to play hard and well to make it that far!
A new mode for NBA Live 98 is the general manager mode. In the GM mode, you have complete control over all aspects of the game. You can create leagues, run drafts, and play through seasons. When creating a league, you have complete control over what teams are in the league and how many of them there are. You can have leagues as small as four teams if you would like. After creating a league, the draft screens appear, giving you the chance to go through the draft for those teams. When the teams you have chosen to control have a turn in the 12-round draft, then you can choose a player for your team. Computer-controlled teams choose their own players. After you have created all the teams by running through the draft, you can play in GM season, which is much like the game’s Season mode. The only difference is that, in GM mode, you can have more than one player-controlled team.
You have the chance to go right to the playoffs without playing through a season in NBA Live 98. To access this option, you choose the playoffs mode from the main menu. You have the choice of playing four different playoff formats, and each varies in the number of games that are played for each round in the playoffs. The shortest playoffs let you play one game per round, while the longest plays up to seven games in certain rounds. The playoffs mode works much like that of the season mode. You can play the games for your teams while the computer will simulate the other games. If you win, you will proceed through the rounds to the championship, and, if you lose a round, you return to the main screen to start over. There is a reward sequence played at the end of the playoffs if you actually can win it all.
The last mode of play in NBA Live 98 is the new three-point shoot-out mode. In this mode, you can choose different players from around the league and put them up against each other in a three point shoot-out. Once you have chosen the players who will participate, you are brought to the court where you can control the players throughout the match. When the shoot-out starts, you control the player by first picking a ball off the rack and then shooting it. To make the shots, you have to time the release of the ball from a player and, depending on his skill, he will make or miss the shot. What makes it difficult is that you are up against a shot clock to shoot all of your balls before time runs out. The shoot-out works just like the real NBA shoot-out in that the rack consists on a set of balls worth one point each, and one ball worth three points; this final, three-point ball makes the last shot at each position very important. After all players have gone, the winner is announced based on who made the most shots.
There are some global options that can be set from the main screen within NBA Live 98. You can set the rules you want to play under. You can play in Arcade mode, Simulation mode, or a Custom mode. These modes offer different levels of play within NBA Live 98. What they enable in the game is the ability to tailor your playing style. In Arcade mode the players never tire, giving you a faster-paced game. In Simulation mode, all the players tire, can get injured, and will foul out, making you play more wisely by substituting players when needed. Under the Custom heading, you can choose how much realism you want in the game.
Next to the different rules is a set of skill levels from which you can choose. The different levels range from Rookie to the new SuperStar level. These different levels offer the gamer the chance to learn how the game works while toning his skills. Under the Rookie level, winning can be very easy. You can steal the ball frequently, get cool dunks, and run around the court at your free will. Under the hardest level, Superstar, the computer will be very difficult to steal from, won’t allow you to score easily, and will take you to school while you are on defense.
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