Difficulty levels in NBA Live

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NBA Live utilises four difficulty levels which correspond to basketball/sporting terms. As with other video games, more experienced players generally seek to increase the difficulty level to give themselves a greater challenge when playing the game. The difficulty levels in NBA Live are comprised of Rookie (the easiest), Pro (formerly Starter), All-Star and Superstar (the most difficult). The Superstar difficulty level was introduced in NBA Live 98 as a means of providing an extra challenge for players who found the All-Star difficulty too easy.

The difference in difficulty is noticeable through the user's ability to make shots or defensive stops and grab rebounds as well in contrast to the CPU's offensive and defensive capabilities as well as its aggressiveness. On Rookie difficulty, the game tends to be more forgiving of jumpshots that are not perfectly timed, allows a wider margin of error on free throw attempts and makes it easy for the player to pick off passes or knock balls loose for the steal or swat away the CPU's shot. The CPU team also tends to be less assertive and less efficient at both ends of the floor.

As the user moves through the difficulty levels, it becomes harder to make shots or defensive stops and the CPU plays a smarter and more aggressive game, forcing the user to make better decisions and focus on the game. This approach has sometimes drawn criticism however as players have often described the challenge on harder difficulty levels (particularly Superstar) coming from the CPU gaining almost superhuman abilities while the user's players become inept, particularly in regards to the Comeback Code in recent games. Conversely, some experienced players feel that Superstar difficulty still does not offer a satisfactory challenge. This usually leads to making slider tweaks that are intended to give the CPU an unfair advantage.

Rename in NBA Live 10[edit]

Beginning with NBA Live 10, the second easiest difficulty level (previously named Starter) was renamed Pro. It remains a difficulty level for intermediate users who desire a slightly more challenging game than the one provided by Rookie difficulty but are still honing their skills.