I fondly remember playing NBA Live 2005. The addition of the All-Star Weekend Dunk Contest was the hype. The gameplay felt smooth. It was quite intuitive and not overly complicated. What does any of this have to do with NBA Live 15? Let’s just say that the reintroduction of NBA Live might have been a mistake on EA’s part.
Game Name: NBA Live 15
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One (Reviewed)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Canada
Release Date: October 28, 2014 (October 23rd for the 6-hour EA Access Trial)
Price: $59.99 ($53.99 with EA Access on Xbox One)
NBA Live 14 was widely panned as the worst NBA simulation in a long time, with the BounceTek dribbling mechanic being a hilariously expected flop, the gameplay being sluggish, the visuals being utter basura (that’s trash or nonsense for my non-Latino people,) and the commentary being boring and more pointless than Jerry “The King” Lawler (or Zack Ryder) on an episode of Monday Night Raw. Does NBA Live 15 fix ANY of this? In my extremely honest opinion (and Daniel Bryan’s:)
Let’s get into why:
The Gameplay is Lacking:
Coming from playing the NBA 2K series, where smooth gameplay is king, NBA Live 15‘s gameplay seems like a major disappointment. Regardless of that, once placed into a vacuum, NBA Live 15‘s gameplay seems like a bigger disappointment, seeing as NBA Live 14 was completely rock-bottom in terms of bad basketball video games. The controls feel completely counter-intuitive to the main purpose (that’s scoring, if you didn’t know.) Defensively, it feels completely awkward, as you’re more apt to fouling more than you’d like to. Let’s not get into fouls, because the game calls some of the worst fouls that can be called. While playing the “Rally In The Heat” Big Moment, and Tim Duncan goes up for a lay-in and ‘Birdman’ Chris Andersen gets fouled, not even touching Duncan ONCE. NOT ONCE. Three-point shooting seems like a chore, even with the Three Point King himself, Ray Allen, let alone shooting from inside. It feels like a post-player’s dream, and dunking and lay-ups are the order of the day. If all I wanted to do was dunk, I’d boot up my PS2 and start up the Dunk Contest in NBA Live 2005. You do get punished for leaving even a little room for shooters open, but shot defense isn’t truly rewarded at all, and it makes it feel like you did all that work for nothing.
The pass mechanic is far from perfect. It’s not even close to good. Holding the right bumper (R1 on PS4) to initiate icon passing just doesn’t work. You can’t let it go, or you can’t icon pass, and may perhaps throw up a completely random alley-oop lob right to your opponent, or a really stupid shot that’s not even close to getting in. Pick controls are insane, as there are only two options, the slip, or the roll. The slip is activated by tapping the Left Trigger (L2 on PS4,) and the roll by holding the trigger down until the screener is set. It’s not the most optimal function for pick control, but it sometimes get the job done. Defensive controls aren’t that simple either. Most of the advanced (and by most I mean two) defensive options are tied to the right stick, either putting your hands up, or taking the charge. You can also tap the right stick to attempt a steal, but pressing X (Square on PS4) is way easier. Your block/rebound button is tied to the Y/Triangle buttons and calling for the double team is tied to B/Circle. Kinect options are extremely limited, msotly tied to playcalling only, and the Directional Buttons are tied to a limited playcalling experience.
The Game Looks Good…A Little…Maybe?
The ESPN presentation is amazing for what we’re getting, and it’s not a lot. We get a little pre-game introduction featuring some of the key players from each team with voice work by ESPN’s Jalen Rose (former Chicago Bulls star,) before we go to the court for a lackluster intro from Mike Breen and former Knick coach, Jeff Van Gundy. I’ll give credit where credit is due, though, the players look realistic. I’d say a slight edge in this category goes to NBA Live 15, if it weren’t for the few exceptions here and there (Kevin Garnett looks like a younger version of himself, the players look like and oiled up Randy Orton before a match, etc.) The arena floors have too much of a shine to them, and look really unrealistic (I’ve been to MSG and the Barclays Center in Manhattan and Brooklyn respectively, floor’s too shiny.) However, the game looks really good, I wasn’t blown away by the design, but I was somewhat impressed. However, the camera angles are extremely wacky and imprecise, so don’t expect much out of the camera if you’re used to other camera angles, such as the 2K or Turbo cameras in NBA 2K.
Too Bad NBA 2K15 has ESPN’s Doris Burke.
Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy are definitely the poor man’s Kevin Harlan, Steve Kerr and Clark Kellogg. Mike Breen on commentary brings NOTHING to the game, while all Van Gundy does is bring up arbitrary quotes. There’s no special dynamic between the two, they just feel like they’re just…well…there. Jalen Rose is more dynamic than Damon Bruce though, and the ESPN SportsCenter like highlughts during the halftime report and the post game wrap up, with Gametrack and Player of the Half just adds to the presentation aspect. Yeah, that should be in the previous section, but the audio can’t be talked about without mentioning the video presentation. Arena sounds are well done, but there is no balance for the on the court sounds, and the court sounds drown out the commentators, making them impossible to hear at times, which may be a good thing.
The in-game soundtrack is okay, nothing to write home about. Some Gems appear from Bishop Nehru and Flatbush Zombies, but that’s really it.
Ultimate Team is Still Ultimate Team.
Is there really much to say about Ultimate Team? Not really, but I can speak on the other modes. Big Moments allow you to recreate or rewrite historic NBA moments of the past season for XP, which increases your profile rank, which travels with you across NBA Live games for future releases. NBA Rewind allows you to play a section of the NBA season or post-season and the better you perform, the more points you get and you may be featured #1 on the leaderboards. Online mode isn’t really that stable, as it’s hard, even for the EA Access trial, to get online and play games. Learn Live by Adidas teaches you the mechanics of the game, and how to perform the moves and some of the defensive options in the game. Dynasty Mode is the same as it’s always been, take charge of an NBA team as its General Manager and take your team to the playoffs and win championships, but the cool option that was added was that you can redo the 2014 draft. So you can have your team get the No 1. Pick in the draft to steal Jabari Parker from Milwaukee or grab Andrew Wiggins and trade him for Kevin Love, whatever your heart decides. Other than that, Dynasty is pretty basic: train your players, pick your team’s focus and work through everything.
Rising Star Mode is pretty much NBA 2K14’s MyCareer mode, minus the important cutscense and such. It’s not very rewarding. It can become quite arbitrary, quite quickly if you’re not careful.
Does NBA Live 15 Live Up to the Hype?
NBA Live 15 just doesn't do it this year.
This is definitely not a $60 game. It doesn’t feel finished, and there can be a lot more improvements that NBA Live 15 can utilize, such as a better ball handling mechanic, and defense not playing you all tight, just to get a J in their face.
- Visuals look great. Players no longer look dull and lifeless as before.
- Dynasty Mode has seen some improvements.
- Gameplay feels stiff
- Lack of a sense of true improvement in the series.
- Defense is rewarded by offense…FROM THE OTHER TEAM.