When it comes to sports titles, few can compare to some of the quality products put out by EA Sports. While not everything is perfect, most of their baseball, football, hockey, and basketball games are right on target. NBA Live 2000 is one such game. As if earlier versions of the game weren't good enough, they have outdone themselves with what is perhaps the best basketball game produced for the PC to date.
More and more titles today are representing the virtual players as realistic as possible. Players in the game look more and more like their real-life counterparts. That has never been so true as it is in this game. It is uncanny how much these 3D models look just like the actual players running around the court. While the animation has just a slight touch of stiffness to it, the players look unbelievably accurate and move very realistically. Player representation just gets better and better, and this tops even last year's offering. Stadiums are represented in all their glory, and are also quite striking. Pre-game introductions look very much like a real game, and even include team logos flashed across the court in lights just like the real thing.
Sound effects on the court are very good. The sounds of the ball being dribbled, sneakers on the wooden floor, and the "whoosh" of a ball slung through the hoop are all very realistic. Commentary is provided by Don Poier and Reggie Theus, and while it does the job acceptably is not as lively as that in, say, NBA Inside Drive 2000. Crowd noise is very well done, reacting very realistically to the action on the court.
The game interface is very gamepad-oriented. Response time is quick and control is configurable. A number of actions are possible, including fakes and direct shots. Keyboard control is also available, but I wouldn't recommend it due to the higher level of flexibility that a gamepad provides. On the downside, I miss the mouse control that I had in NBA Inside Drive 2000. For me, the mouse if the most flexible and accurate controller possible, and I prefer using it to a gamepad. What is available in the game works very well, but I always feel that I have much more control using a mouse.
Gameplay options are abundant in NBA Live 2000. From the simple practice mode through exhibition games to seasons, this game provides just about any type of play you can imagine. There is a one-on-one mode that you play against Michael Jordan, the basketball deity himself. Franchise mode allows you to create your own league if you like. Three point shot is great for those quick fixes that you may need. Just about everything is covered here, and multiple skill levels allow anyone to have fun, from the true beginner to the hardened basketball simulation veteran.
Year after year, it's difficult to imagine NBA Live getting any better. EA Sports keeps raising the bar in this game with a more realistic look and superior gameplay. Playing this game looks very much like watching the game on television. I've been impressed by other basketball titles, but this one blows them all away.