Video gaming has officially gone Hollywood. There is no way the creators of Pong could have ever imagined the scene that took place at Beso in Hollywood on Friday night. The restaurant – owned by Eva Longoria Parker – was the setting for the EA Sports NBA Live 09 VIP Launch Party, hosted by cover boy (and husband of Eva) Tony Parker. While the red carpet and paparazzi outside left no doubt the Hollywood nature of the event, once inside, an almost house party type vibe played-out.
On the main floor, guests chilled, enjoying the great food and drinks, while playing and watching the XBOX 360 version of the Live 09 on various large, flat screen televisions. Upstairs, a DJ spun records from the VIP room, where Tony, Eva and the rest of the A-listers (Jamie Foxx, Michael Strahan, Nicole Murphy, to name a few) did whatever A-listers do.
The rest of the crowd was somewhat surreal, as the basketball presence was minimal–I only saw Clippers rook Eric Gordon and (no joke) Olden Polynice–and the Hip-Hop (who has been showing love since Common’s unforgettable quote from “The Bizness”) presence was non-existent. It honestly felt more like a Heroes event, with much of that show’s cast in the building. Greg Gunberg (aka Matt Parkman aka the mind-reader) and Sendhil Ramamurthy (aka Mohinder Suresh) definitely got into the new game, spending little time away from the sticks. For Grunberg, it must be way too easy, knowing exactly what his opponent is about to do!
From there it only got weirder. Pseudo-wrestler and Real World cast member the Miz? Shannon Marie Woodard, the daughter from the FX series The Riches? Musician an ex-boyfriend of Ashlee Simpson, Ryan Cabrera? Al Shearer AKA that dude from BET AKA that dude from Punk’d AKA that dude from Glory Road? Tim from One Tree Hill? Then just when I thought I’d seen it all…BAM! Out of nowhere–Jim Lampley. Eclectic.
I got a chance to play the game myself, and it was cool. There are no obviously drastic game play changes but not much improvement was needed in that area. The graphics looked great, especially the recognizable movements of some of the star players. The video game versions of Baron Davis and Kobe Bryant are two examples of guys that I noticed truly moved around the court like their real life counterparts.
The major new feature this year is the “Dynamic DNA” which attempts to mirror the up-to-date, real life performances of the players in the game. So if Tony Parker averages 40 points for a week, his scoring attributes in the game will reflect that. If an unknown rookie proves he can make an immediate impact, his virtual self will be just as good. That’s a hot idea, as it has always been annoying when players are rated way too high, way too low, etc. Obviously, that feature did not figure prominently in the gameplay at the party, but let’s just say if it worked the opposite way, and the real life B-Diddy was affected by the percentage I shot with him in the game, it’s going to be a long season for the Clippers! But hey, as a PS3 guy, the last time I had to the “A” button was while playing Double Dribble!
Click the thumbnails below to see enlarged images from the event.
You can check a review of NBA 2k9 and its launch party here.