In my younger years, I was quite the computer gamer, as the scores of CDs that surround my PC and fill my closet can attest. I’d play any genre, from the old Sierra adventure games, to strategy sims like Command & Conquer, to whatever EA Sports was publishing. They made it and I wanted to play it.
I don’t game much anymore, probably because I’m older and have found there are usually much better uses of my time. These days, I play pretty much only one game: Battlefield 2. Yeah, that game’s been out for nearly two years, but when you’ve gotten good at it, and you’ve found a bunch of guys you can play with regularly, it’s still an awesome game.
But last night I was in CompUSA for something else, and I came across NBA Live 07 from EA Sports. Now, I’ve all but given up on the NBA in the past couple years, and my team in particular stinks big time, but since the season is almost over and the game had been recently knocked down in price, I decided, “what the heck?” and bought it. I’m glad I did.
Sports games are supposed to be simple. In basketball, you need to dribble, pass, and shoot — and dribbling is already taken care of. Now, EA has complicated things over the years by adding “superstar control” and separating the buttons for layups and dunks, but computerized basketball is essentially the same as it was back in the Lakers versus Celtics days: dribble, pass, and shoot. With that in mind, I took my crappy Celtics squad to the floor against the Orlando Magic and we promptly got run out of the building. In my second game, I spotted the Grizzlies a 15-2 first quarter lead and things looked grim. But suddenly, something clicked. Like Scottie Pippen upping his Ginseng dosage and making a return to the NBA, I got my game back. Paul Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak started draining threes as the Celtics fastbreaked (fastbroke?) like crazy. We came up short against Memphis (45-43), but haven’t lost since.
I think there’s virtue in the simplicity of a sports game. The Civilizations and SimCitys of the world are good games of course, and I’d tend to play those types most of the time. But Civ and even Battlefield 2 are complex games that require your undivided attention and remembering myriad keystrokes. Sports games, like NBA Live 07, you can just plug in and mash buttons. Games like this are for relaxing and unwinding. It’s as simple as dribble, pass, and shoot.