NBA Live 15 Review

For so long EA’s NBA Live franchise held the mantle of being the best in the business, but then things went downhill as the NBA 2K series progressed onward and upward to the point of EA putting the title on hold for a few seasons. With the introduction of the new consoles EA resurrected the series last season but unfortunately even the Philadelphia 76ers played a better game of basketball, the 76ers finished a league worst 19 wins, 63 losses. So it is safe to say the resurrection didn’t quite reach biblical proportions, however EA is back again with a new addition for the new season.

Damian Lillard graces this year’s cover, a young man that needs no introduction to basketball fans. If you’re not a fan Lillard was sixth pick in 2012 for Portland, won the Rookie of the year and in his second year Lillard was the first player ever to compete in five allstar events and also hit a buzzer beating three point shot to send Portland into the second round, so yes he can play. On entry to the game Lillard gives a tutorial of how the mechanics work, it is quite deep and gives the immediate feeling that this year’s offering is going to be a much better game in every aspect. By the end of the tutorial you will be confident in euro steps, step backs, crossovers and have staggering offensive and defensive prowess. You are on the way to becoming a star in the NBA.

This sums up one of NBA Live 15’s greatest problems. What the 2K series does terrifically well is puts you into a team, yes a team that you can become the star player on, but a team that assists you throughout your progression. NBA Live 15 seems to rely on you to take the game on and in turn feels like a street ball game, the offense is you, there is no motion from the ai and everything falls on your shoulders. This can lead to frustration, even when calling plays the ai seem to partially ignore this and refuse to move to position at times. It is far worse on defence. There is no such thing as help defence; if you don’t control the player on ball then it is a bucket to the opposition without question. For example the first game I played was as the defending champs the Spurs, up against Lebron’s Cavaliers. This is apparently game seven of the 2015 finals (laughable if you take a view of the standings at the moment), in the first half I was down by eighteen, and the Cavs had shot 100% from the field. What the fuck????? 100%, that’s is preposterous, whether I had hands in the face of opponents, made them drive baseline or leave non shooters breathing room to shoot from range, these guys had not missed! Not impressed I entered the menu to check out the modes.

The modes are all there, Rising Star (career mode), Dynasty (front office franchise mode), Ultimate Team and Big Moments, with the latter’s moments being large but not huge, are all present. EA is giving away ten gold packs within the first weeks of release for your Ultimate team so everyone had pimped teams to begin with which actually detracted from the mode a little. I like the challenge of having to use a rag tag bunch of role players to defy the odds and build a masterful team. Also an auction house has been added to sell and buy single items; this is a great feature especially if you require a certain positional upgrade. The challenges in Ultimate Team are far greater than those in 2K’s My Team equivalent, actually they also have included a great option to jump into simulated games at any time in Dynasty if the outcome is not looking as planned (2K could do with this). These are the only place that sees Live get the better of 2K though.

Graphically Live 15 is a massive improvement on last year’s outing. The animations likewise have improved along with the physics but these are still a fair way behind 2K’s basketball beast. There just seems to be blandness attributed to everything, I can’t exactly put my finger on why. The players look quite realistic, the courts, crowds and even the nets all look great but for some reason it feels underwhelming. Likewise the commentary that is given by ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breens feels flatly delivered. There are lengthy half time reports by Jalen Rose which are quite good but the whole package doesn’t sit right. It looks real but feels arcade like, it’s a strange mix and seems as though EA is not sure which direction they were aiming at.

 

Overall NBA Live 15 is an improvement on last year’s outing but it gets the fundamentals of basketball so very wrong. I actually like the modes on offer over those of 2K15’s but disliked playing the actual basketball on display. There is a lot of work that’s needs to be done, it’s not worse than last year’s 76ers but it’s still a long way off being a playoff calibre entry.

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