The trouble with American sports games is that, given we don't spend the majority of our time munching 'Potato Chips' while flicking continuously through 'ESPN', much like the bulk of the US population do, they're notoriously tricky beasts for we snooty Brits to evaluate. Generally speaking, we have to refer back to our knowledge of similar, proper British sports (ice hockey = hockey; baseball = rounders; American football = rugby; WWE = pantomime), and then make a judgement call accordingly.
But in the case of basketball, a sport so fundamentally American it weighs 250 pounds, drives a Cadillac and shoots deer with a .357 Magnum to the sound of the Star Spangled Banner at the weekend, that's somewhat harder to do. Playing NBA Live 06 left us feeling dazed and bemused, simply because it makes no concessions for anybody who doesn't know the sport, and therein lies its biggest flaw. NHL 06 works because it's fast and fun. Madden works because it has a brilliant coaching mode. But NBA Live? As far as we can see, it's just a good-looking basketball game with a few too many rules and technicalities.
Talking improvements, NBA Live 06 does take a step into slightly more appealing arcade territory with its star player system. Essentially, certain players now possess 'star' powers in particular fields (shooting, blocking, three pointers and so on), which adds a nice strategy element with respect to building up a well-rounded team in Career mode. Another welcome addition is European Live play. But unless you're a mad b-ball fan with too much love for expensive trainers and oversized vests, NBA Live 06 is hardly going to tempt you away from the more familiar digital sporting pursuits of Pro Evolution Soccer and Tiger Woods.
A very polished online basketball game, but it still lacks real appeal for nonbasketball fans.