There are a few basketball games out for mobile devices, with the retro classic NBA Jam standing out in particular. However, moving on from that success, there are now some NBA games which have been built from the ground up, with a similar mechanic but a modern overhaul, such as the increasingly popular NBA Live Mobile. This title lives up to the ‘live’ name by letting you take part in events, forming a little mobile league of its own, while staying free to play.
Basketball on a phone?
Those who haven’t played a basketball game on their phone, such as NBA Jam, might wonder exactly how it works. In NBA Live Mobile you have a surprisingly simple set up; the left thumb works as a d-pad and the right can tap shoot, pass or drive. Though touchscreen precision is an issue, the simplicity of this setup with the side-on view of the court makes it very easy to get into. Unlike some older titles, you now have a squad of 5 to command which actually works well even on the limited space of a mobile screen and doesn’t clutter up too much, thanks to some clever camera work. The game is tailored for fast play with 2 minute quarters that keep everything fast and furious. In all other regards this plays as you’d expect and gameplay is very fun and fluid, bolstered by the special events that make this game ‘live’.
What’s new this time?
The live aspect essentially means that you can connect to the NBA to compete in daily challenges, tournaments or just head to heads with friends. This is a really strong dynamic which makes it feel like a real NBA league, where your team can earn glory. Teams can be customized by collecting players from various teams to build your ideal squad. This can be done via the auction house, so earning cash and levelling up is vital. Under the hood, the graphics of NBA Live Mobile are great. The character models are complex enough to look good and the shiny court surface makes the whole scene come to life. Reflections on the court also add to the effect, a simple touch that makes the game that bit more realistic. Audio too is strong in this title, with a nice background sound for the court and the typical squeaking and bouncing sounds that make you feel like you’re watching real basketball. There is a downside to this game, however, in that it requires a persistent internet connection. This could be a deal breaker for those with limited data plans.
Live and kicking
NBA Live Mobile is a great example of not just a solid mobile game, which feels like a console game shrunk down, but also of a smart way to use the connectivity of mobile devices to create a community. Playing in the mini-NBA is great fun and a good way to feel like your skills are paying off. The constant data connection is a bugbear, but not too bad if you play at home or have the data for it. Some may also find it a lot easier to play with a gamepad.