There is no doubt that basketball is a big deal here in the US, in fact it is by far the biggest sport in the land outside of football. Sony has been doing their best to get in the battle for the best basketball video game for quite some time, and thus far has managed to come up short in one way or another. The franchise took a big risk a few years back when they introduced The Life Volume 1, a story based mode, literally the first of its kind for a basketball game. Now two years later and still on the PS2 we are checking out NBA 08 with the Life Volume 3. Does the third time really the charm?
In this review of NBA 08, there is really one area that you can focus on and that is The Life Volume 3. If you don’t like the idea, or haven’t liked the implementation, then you can stop reading now because the formula is still much of the same in NBA 08 for the PS2. What is interesting about The Life mode in general is that it is something that doesn’t get done all that often. That is stories in a sports games are relatively unheard of, and aside from a few games, it has been almost exclusively been done in this franchise.
I have been a fan; I will admit I am a big supporter of the idea and the mode in the past two seasons has been solid in my opinion. However without giving away any story elements at all, The Life Volume 3 is quite frankly a disappointment. It is not necessarily the story that really drags the experience down, but instead that nothing has really changed from the first installment to the current game. There are a few big plot twists right out of the gate that will leave some with a bit of worry, but outside of that the story progresses at a rather slow pace and continues to hamper the tasks on court that you need to complete.
You would just think by the third installment of this mode that they would have a bit more of an original feel to the experience. It is not that this installment is necessarily bad, but instead it just feels a bit more like running with what has worked in the past and that just doesn’t cut it for me. Overall The Life Volume 3 does have a lot to thrill those who have given the last two games a full run through, but otherwise this is by far the more disappointing of the installments of The Life.
Mechanics-wise, the game hasn’t changed much from years past as well. Sony apparently has gone with the attitude if it’s not broke don’t fix it and that is what you get with NBA 08. The shot meter makes a return this year and although some may not like it, I do agree that while it takes a bit away from the experience, it gives a bit more rhyme or reason to why or why not a shot is going in the hoop or not. Otherwise everything works and continues to give a pretty good feel around the court.
Overall NBA 08 really revolves around The Life, and although there are other modes both online and offline, they are rather lacking some much-needed depth. The game really puts the majority of its chips in the basket of The Life, and unfortunately the third time just didn’t manage to be the charm for this title.
I really was hoping for a bit of a visual update to the NBA 08 title for the PS2, as the last few years have felt rather stagnant. Unfortunately this too hasn’t been altered all that much on the PS2, and there is still a pretty bare bone visual scheme to the experience. Although the menu’s are beautifully created, the in-game animations are very choppy and the character models as bland as they come. Overall the game looks pretty poor and really needs a makeover, quickly.
The one thing you have to hand to Sony is that they really put all of their eggs into a basket where not many people had much faith and they have made it work. Unfortunately they continued to use the same ideas that made it work originally and now we are left with an experience that is begging for a big update. Although I would say that some that really enjoyed its past iterations will enjoy NBA 08, I would also say that many will be in the same boat as myself. Although I enjoyed it to an extent, there was still an undeniable disappointment to the overall experience.
NBA 08 for the PS2 may be the last time we see The Life on the PS2. I know many are hoping that the mode will transition to the PS3 (I know I am) but the franchise did give the PS2 a pretty good run. Unfortunately Volume 3 just felt too familiar to the last two outings, and we’re expecting much more for the third game in the franchise.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.