Imagine it's future. Like, cities in-the-sky future. Imagine that a mad sports scientist has developed a cyborg so realistic that it can pass for an actual human basketball star.
He looks amazing, his moves are slick perfection, and he can do things that make jaws drop all over the world. But then something weird happens. The cyborg - let's call him RoboJordan - gets glitchy. He twitches, jerks, slows down to a crawl. Everyone realises that RoboJordan isn't as great as they thought, and goes back to good old-fashioned human basketball.
It might sound far-fetched, but RoboJordan pretty much sums up NBA Live 06 on Xbox 360. At first glance it looks so good that you're trying to stuff your eyeballs back into their sockets. But after a little while you're noticing all the little problems and heading back to your good old-fashioned Xbox version.
But it does look amazing. The player likenesses are spot-on, the animations are sublime and the action crisper than a bag of ready salted. We love the way players bump and shunt each other, and how midair player collisions look stunningly realistic.
But when things get hectic, there's crunching slowdown. There are jerks and glitches. And there are other problems too. The AI is mostly fine, but sometimes players stand around gormlessly when the ball breaks loose. Worst of all, there's a real lack of game options on offer - you can only play a quick game, manage your team through a season, or play over Xbox Live - the original Xbox version offers more.
Funnily enough, none of these problems are enough to spoil a decent game of next-gen b-ball. The controls are tight, the games are enjoyably over-the-top, and Xbox Live play is hard-ballin' fun. The whole package is undermined by the same problems that afflicted our RoboJordan. It looks stunning and has all the moves, but if you're in the market for a long-term basketball experience you're better off with the old Xbox version - at least until NBA Live 07 delivers the Xbox 360 b-ball experience we've all been dribbling over.
NOTHIN' BUT NET? CLOSE, BUT NOT YET