Padre’s Hands-On Impressions of NBA Live 08’s “Hot Spots”

Posted July 6th, 2007 at 12:54 am
NBA Live 08 Ray Allen Hot Spots

So now with the first embargo lifted, those of us who attended the NBA Live 08 community event are able to discuss Hot Spots, Own the Paint, and Quick Strike Ball Handling. This write-up will focus on the Hot Spots.

As soon as the news on this new feature was revealed I knew that it was going to create some level of backlash. That was reinforced when I first saw it in person. 

I had a handful of initial concerns. The first is that it dominates the screen when activated. It is very bright and essentially replaces the court completely with the colored sections. You don't see anything like that when you're watching on TV or live at a basketball game, and ultimately what these games have been going towards is a level of realism in how you view them so in a way it felt a little out of place.

The next problem for me was how it would be used. I figure if you're playing a head-to-head game, and your opponent pulls up the Hot Spots, you can assume two things. They are planning on shooting with that player, and they are going to head towards a red zone. It just isn't something natural to see pop up on your screen when you're playing defense and you automatically wonder what their motivation is for displaying the zones. 

How it works though is the most important thing. Instead of three ratings for shooting, each player now has 14 based on how well they shoot from different spots on the court. That in itself is a significant improvement. This statistics being used for this are not being guessed at. They have pulled these numbers directly from so they'll reflect exactly upon how well each player is from each section of the court based on their true performance from them.

What we noticed immediately was that just because you are in a red zone doesn't make it automatic, and just because you are in the blue zone doesn't mean the shot will be missed. The percentages are just slightly skewed to the individual players. No different than the previous close/medium/three point breakdown, only now it is being done based on the 14 sections of the floor.

So when playing the game, how much did it visually matter? In the games where the group was playing competitively, the Hot Spots were pulled up ZERO times. Not once. No one bothered with it. Other than when we were messing around with the game and trying different things out or while shooting in the practice gym, it didn't seem to be on anyone's mind.

I suspect for many others that will be the same way. If anything people will attempt to memorize the zones, at least for their important players. Working to to get open shots and get your players in the best position was the key. Not seeking out specific zones. If they happened to be in a red spot with an open shot, chances are better it will be made, but still there are no guarantees one way or the other based on these zones. It is just a visual representation of their ratings in each area. 

One of the things I don't think I really touched upon enough in my community day impressions (because it was overwhelmed by the discussion of the poor interior defense and trouble containing guards driving to the basket) was how if your player was in the face of a shooter they were making shots at a far less rate than if they were wide open. Thats how it should be, even though in pretty much all the basketball games it seems there has been a problem getting that right on. So if someone was in a red zone, but a defender was in their face, the chance of that going in dropped significantly. Of course if the player is Kobe Bryant, hes still going to make a decent amount of those. But he is good from all over the court so zones really don't factor in. 

This addition to the game isn't something that can be seen as an "exploit" when people try and shoot too much from specific zones. That is where these players are best from in real life, so it adds to the authenticity of the game by representing that. A defense can attempt to keep players out of these areas if they choose to. Knowing that Bruce Bowen is most effective from the corner, makes it possible to try and prevent him from getting open looks there. 

The most important thing I found? Getting an open shot. Regardless of hot vs cold, having a good look at the basket led to the best chance of success. In one of the tournament games, Shawn from 5w-g hit a critical three with Allen Iverson. Only after the game did he realize that his shot came from a blue zone. Of all the shots I made, there wasn't a single time I sought out a specific red zone to shoot from. If Ray Allen was open, I was going to take the shot regardless.

So I don't see Hot Spots as being a problem, actually creating the 14 ratings will make the game that much more realistic. However I would like to see the boldness of the colors toned down and in head-to-head games I feel that seeing your opponent pull up the zones is distracting and creates the unnatural thoughts of wondering why they are doing it. Ideally I feel the zones should be available only in the practice gym so people could learn them, and not in the actual game. Maybe even just having them available during games when on the two lower difficulty levels. I feel that would be a good compromise. Still though at the very least the idea of what they represent is an excellent addition to NBA Live 08.