EA Sports has taken a few breaks from releasing NBA Live cancelling NBA Elite 11, never creating 12 announcing then abandoning Live 13 and pushing NBA Live 17 from a later window to no date at all. Each release brings something new to the table and this year is no exception.
NBA Live 18 first the time ever in NBA video game history delivers the WNBA and all its glory. It a huge stepping stone for the women of the NBA to receive recognition by adding their likeness and finesse to the Live franchise.
So how does it all play out? Let’s talk about what’s in store. The biggest hype of NBA Live 18 is a cross between playing as “The One” in either The League or The Streets which allows you to take your player in the route you choose creating your own legacy.
It begins with you making your player, hopefully taking advantage of the GameFace technology utilized by the NBA Live team. It’s hands down one of the best face scanning apps to date adding your likeness to the game and personalizing the experience. After making your character you can choose your player type and play style. This concept plays closer to the archtypes introduced in NBA 2K17 where not only position but height and weight play an important role in your position.
As for your career, you’ve managed to make your way to the top only to injure yourself sophomore year with a torn ACL. It unfortunately affects not only you but teammate Nick Howard who the fans call as a duo the Hype Brothers.
It seems like a lot of sports titles are forcing the RPG element to involve a friend or colleague of some sort. But hey if it works, keep rolling with it! In NBA Live 18 you have more room to create your personality as there are more ways to respond to players, agents and loved ones via text, similar to NBA 2K just a bit more involved (than 2K17).
Before considering the NBA it’s an attempt for a major comeback. Your career is tracked by Stephan A. Smith and Max Kellerman of First Take as you travel the streets from Rucker Park to the Drew League to the Combine Draft. The final choice is will you go straight to the league or join in on the Pro-AM.
Your player through gameplay can earn Hype points based on how well you perform each game, rep points and increase your XP level through games which will ultimately allow you to earn skill points to help upgrade your custom player.
Aside from playing The One there are also featured Live Events and Live Run Pick-up games allowing you to earn exclusive reward crates based on the challenge and community or team you play against.
There are other crates you earn as well such as League and Street crates, potentially unlocking items based on what mode you play and hype earned. If there are any individual items you’re seeking reward points are earned as well based on performance and various conversations in The One.
When considering the Play Now and Online Head to Head modes available, the WNBA experience is worth every penny. Game mechanics felt a bit different in a way, yet more fluid controlling the women than at times with the NBA teams.
My only let down with the WNBA is the lack of recognition in regards to some players not being mentioned by commentary. It doesn’t fully take away from the WNBA add-on, but it’s surely a setback to what was still a historic addition.
What Else Is There?
There’s also an Ultimate Team and Franchise mode available. Live Ultimate Team (LUT) offers a plethora of game options, including fantasy challenges to temporarily unlock players for your ultimate team. James Harden is by default a loan card for 10 games, similar to Ronaldo in FIFA 18, meaning you can select Harden for 10 critical games if your players are what you were hoping. In addition to being able to purchase LUT packs and NBA points, you can also auction, bid and sell your LUT cards.
NBA Franchise mode allows you to play both GM and as the team as you control cap salaries, upgrade players, track injuries and more. As for each game you are optioned with playing a full game, play the moment or simulate. Franchise mode however is honestly a disappointment as it isn’t nearly as involved as EA Sports Madden NFL or FIFA titles.
NBA Live 18 still follows its pattern of delivering a fun, yet arcade feel to the courts and the streets. The new shot meter takes a bit to get used to, especially when contested with an average shooter. It takes a bit of time to find that sweet spot as even just being off the green can cause you miss a shot, especially if at all contested. I found open players to pass to so many times only to end as a failed attempt as passing felt a bit sluggish allowing the defense to easily track ball movement and transition.
On offense, managing to get into the paint for layup and dunks was remarkable. It’s more of challenge than NBA Live 16 to penetrate the paint, but it’s worth it when able to do so. Even better are the new animations performed by players as they make rim-rattling dunks, long distance threes or even pulling off an epic block on defense.
On the same token, I did see a lackluster of animations when players reached-in drawing a foul; it was almost the same cutscene every time.
Visually NBA Live is split good and bad. While player likenesses aren’t as close as most hoped, it’s still a good amount of detail and worth mentioning. It’s most noticeable with certain players as well as WNBA players that their face doesn’t appear to have been scanned for Live 18. When the camera angle is set to broadcast the presentation is remarkable.
On a positive note I enjoyed the crowd and the sense of realism they bring. The ambiance was ecstatic. However I can’t say the same for the commentary team. Though it’s much better than NBA Live 16, it still manages to go stale at times. One memorable moment was trying to catch a pass from Harden only to have the basketball hit me in the face. Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen mentioned the pain I had to feel from being pummeled.
Also I couldn’t help but notice the details of the basketball court and how you can see the scratches on the court floor. Yes it’s something small but it contributes to having an authentic court which fans will appreciate.