Release Date: October 28th , 2014
Publisher: EA Sports
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox One], PlayStation 4
Rated: E for Everyone
The time has come, the moment of truth to speak to the uphill climb of NBA Live by EA Sports. With the launch of the new-gen consoles, Live 14 looked to be highly anticipated, but then it released. Some fans were happy to simply see NBA Live return, while others saw the product for what it was.
Last year NBA Live 14 felt like a rookie getting his first opportunity to step on the court, having an okay game overall. A lot of potential was there, but the bread and butter, the essence that would make it a phenomenal experience, was lacking. EA Sports were always neck and neck with 2K Sports. Ask basketball fans their thoughts and they will tell you that they probably bought both.
Live 15 introduction starts off a bit different as they walk you through controls. I appreciated the walkthrough as it’s a process transitioning from 2K to Live. So learning how to call picks, perform signature moves and more proved to be helpful. After tutorials it’s on to an NBA Finals preview between the Cavaliers and OKC. I just have to say I found it a bit funny as it was NBA 2K14 cover star vs 2K15’s. However, if you don’t want to play the preview game you can navigate to the main menus.
The main menu offers the Rising Star, Ultimate Team and Dynasty modes as well as the Tip-Off (exhibition) and Head 2 Head (multiplayer). NBA Memorable Moments from NBA Live 14 has been replaced with NBA Big Moments, focusing on all players rather than just the rookies, and recreates critical moments that stood out during the season. Then there’s NBA Rewind that not only shows you what games were played in the NBA season, but also allows you to play “select” games from your favorite teams.
One gripe with the Big Moments is you don’t get to appreciate the achievement. Instead, you accomplish the goal and game over. No celebrations, no quick animations, nothing. It’s a big moment that doesn’t feel like a big moment.
But let’s talk about what drives NBA Live 15, gameplay. Ball control is beyond realistic. The paced is much faster than Live 14 and a step faster than NBA 2K15 as well. It’s a mixed bag as this transition can be a gift or a curse as the players tend to have a much quicker shot release than 2K Sports.
NBA Live 15 also has much better player models than what’s been available in the past. Though it still has a bit ways to go, no one will turn away NBA Live for presentation. Hand and hand are the animations. Watching a player go for a shot and come down awkward and possibly stumbling over is the most realistic movement I’ve seen to date. Something else that’s rare is players skipping down the court, but in Live 15, it’s there. To follow where this is going, player ball movement is spot on. In the year of Live’s true comeback, this is truly their one up over NBA 2K15.
For those that play NBA 2K15 a lot, there will be stumbling with a few things however. When setting picks I kept pressing the “B” button, which in 2K15 would perform that move. In Live however, it’s a simplistic way to set up ally oops. Second are free throws, as holding down the free throw button will allow your player to begin his shot. The trick here is to time the release by letting go of the shooting button, where 2K used the right thumb stick and felt more natural with release.
The two biggest key opportunities that I noticed were steals are way too easy. It made me feel like I was playing an arcade game that allowed me the opportunity to get easy scores and triumphant during honestly undeserving moments. And second were the slam dunks. If you have the momentum you can pull off some amazing dunks, too amazing though, feeling arcade-ish. I felt like a was playing NBA JAM. Don’t get me wrong, the inner child was thinking “BOOM SHAKA LAKA!”
Commentary from Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen was fairly decent, yet felt a bit unbalanced at times in perspective to gameplay and blending with the crowd. The chemistry is there from the team, but it doesn’t hold the same level that 2K has mastered. Even in comparison to Live 14, it still feels about the same.
What did feel to have a better presentation however, the halftime show from Jalen Rose. I felt intrigued to watch each halftime show simply based on the individual breakdowns. Live 15 also had a much better looking crowd this year, just a bit too repetitive as they were all in the home team colors.
Rising Star plays a big part of NBA Live 15 once again as you can create your player and take your A-Game to the Jordan Take Flight showdown to earn a draft pick opportunity. Kind of disappointed that EA Sports decided not to integrate the Game Face 2.0, however there are way more options available for customization. Define your appearance, play style and pick your shoes. The shoe game in NBA Live 15 is bananas, allowing you to choose a pair for home and away games.
Keep up with your rising star by news feeds, player growth and stats as well as viewing your career accomplishments. Grade feedback is most critical however as it’s where your coach base his suggestions and concerns from each quarter, and ranks overall on what worked and what didn’t.
While Rising Star has progressed from Live 14, it still has a bit ways to go to keep players engaged throughout the season.
I think the biggest part of NBA Live 15 is online. Connectivity was quite consistent, which is a bit more than what can be said about 2K. An off court mode was left out again this year though, a mode that once defined the franchise.
In the end NBA Live 15 plays different because it is different. Live has earned a great deal of credibility by going back to the drawing board and recreating the authenticity needed to put the franchise back on the map. This is NOT the year to overlook NBA Live. It’s the year to get it!
Replay Value: 3.75/5
Overall Rating: 3.75/5