NBA Live 09: OTP Clubs

Posted October 9th, 2008 at 7:39 am

With the first opportunity to try out NBA Live 09’s Online Team Play Clubs last night we were able to get a feel for how things are shaping up. The games were fun, just as they were last year. There were some issues though that will hopefully be fixed in the near future. These impressions and suggestions have been passed on to EA for that purpose.

I’ve included videos of the first two games that I was involved in broken down by half. Both times club Pasta Padre was the Blazers and took on a club using the Rockets. The first game was a full five on five (I controlled Brandon Roy) while the second was three on four (controlling Rudy Fernandez). After the two games I am averaging 17 points, 9 assists, and 1.5 rebounds.

Right away it is worth mentioning is that the games played really smoothly. That was one of the most impressive aspects of OTP last year. They were able to get practically lag-less games even when completely filled with 10 users. That was the case again last night. As I’ve stated before it is very well apparent that EA Canada can now be relied upon for smooth and stable online play.

The camera angle takes some time to get used to. I’m not sure I like it better than even the default broadcast camera right now. It feels a little distant and detached but does keep most everything in view. You are able to change your camera angle though so this shouldn’t be much of a concern. It seemed like last year people found some of the alternate angles to provide a better experience.

Initially we had trouble getting matched up with an opponent. After starting the countdown in the club dressing room it would spend about 30 seconds before giving the message that it had failed to find an opponent. Apparently another club has to be searching for a game at the same time. It would be better if you could set ready as a club and be on hold until another club was ready if one couldn’t start up immediately.

In general the games were sloppy. More so than last year actually. Everything seemed to go at a frantic pace an needs to be reeled in a bit. Despite Live being so improved this year it just didn’t come across as much in team play. It was primarily up and down the court and I’d estimate that shooting percentages were up around 75%. The inside game was practically impossible to stop and there wasn’t much that could be done to prevent someone from driving to the lane. Even with the lane clogged up with defenders it wouldn’t make a difference. For some reason it seemed like it wasn’t possible to get a body on an opposing player as they would just run right by you or through you.

This was surprising to me as the standard online games have played more like offline where you have to work for good opportunities on offense and are able to play a variety of defensive strategies with success. There wasn’t any need to work for shots on offense and there was nothing that the defense could do to force the offense into poor possessions. Especially when even bad looking shots were going in frequently.

It felt like it took longer to get the team back on defense than the opposition who could rush down the court for easy scores. Yao Ming was the main culprit of our frustrations for the night. Not only was he unstoppable in the paint but he seemed to be the first player down the court and recipient of quick passing and there was no way to slow him down.

Because of this it didn’t feel much like real team play. Yeah guys were racking up assists and communicating but there wasn’t much opportunity for strategy on either offense or defense. Really you couldn’t even play defense.

One of the biggest issues I’ve heard from the community and experienced last night was auto-inbounding. Immediately after some made baskets the CPU will throw the ball in to the point guard. In many cases this results in a steal or at least a near steal. I’ve been told that this is due to someone on the team hitting the A button as the ball was going through the hoop or right after. In single player modes this is a way to rush the ball inbounds and can be beneficial. But it doesn’t work as intended for team play obviously. Make sure that your teammates know not to hit A at that time and there shouldn’t be any quick auto-inbounding occurring.

You can set picks with the LT which is a nice addition. I was unable to set any successful picks though. It was really difficult to get into position and square up correctly. In some cases I’d end up standing at an angle that would do no good. Because of the lack of defense everyone was scrambling anyway and setting picks was pretty unnecessary.

I wasn’t able to change the club’s team. Right now it is the Blazers but I had hoped to keep switching it up on a regular basis. When I changed the team it wouldn’t save. Hopefully they haven’t locked a single team to a club.

I like having the performance bar and seeing your play reflected in it. There is a feeling of achievement when you make a positive play or disappointment when doing something detrimental to the team’s success.

It could’ve just been our perception but it didn’t seem like three in the key was always being called properly. We got called for it a few times but Yao Ming seemed to be allowed to camp in the lane for like 10 seconds and never get called on it.

There is some sort of glitch at the start of the second half. The team that begins on defense has two players standing in the back court by the bench. This gives the offense an automatic advantage for that possession as those players have to catch up. It is practically a fast break by default to begin the second half for that team.

I really like the grading that you’re given after the game is over. You aren’t just getting a score/grade but it shows you what led to that by your stats. Included are things you were deducted on such as bad double teams which you may not have even realized you committed while playing. I would like to see gamertags alongside the player names in the box scores after the game also to identify who was who and how they fared. Maybe they could let us see everyone’s report card from the game as well.

In the club area you can check out each individual member’s stats. I’m not sure if there is a way to see their breakdown by position. You can do so for free agents so hopefully you can for club members too. I’ll have to take more of a look around.

Next year it would be great to have the NBA Academy for Clubs. I can’t imagine how much fun it would be to run practices and drills within Clubs.

I know overall I have more gripes than positives to discuss right now. If Online Team Play was new to NBA Live than my write-up would’ve detailed many things about the mode that are fantastic such as the overall feeling that comes from working successfully as a team with other people. That was there last year though and ironically right now 08 played a better OTP game than 09 despite not being nearly as good otherwise. With the additions and improvements made this year OTP has incredible potential. So hopefully EA fixes the issues being experienced and the mode will be extremely fun and satisfying.