NBA Live 14 is EA SPORTS 1st released basketball title in several years after a couple failed attempts to resurrect the series. I have struggled playing the game for several reasons as I detail below. I am playing the PS4 version, and it’s time to see if our expectations were met.
Presentation accounts for up to 21 points
towards the final score.
- 1. Stat Overlays are present at appropriate times and add to the game rather than detract. (Worth 5 Total Points)
- 2. Pregame/Halftime/Post Game Presentation is organic and non repetitive. (Worth 8 Total Points)
- 3. Commentary makes sense and flows well. (Worth 8 Total Points)
1. Presentation may be the strongest point of playing NBA Live 14. The stat overlays are very good as the ESPN presentation is absolutely on point. The stat overlays are very well done and unobtrusive to the actual gameplay. One the audio side there are a few bugs such as loss of crowd noise at moments but the basketball sound effects are well done, some of the best in the business. (4 out of 5)
2. Pre-Game presentation is well done also but nothing earth-shattering. Lots of room for improvement here but having Jalen Rose talk about the upcoming game is a nice touch. Halftime is exactly what we expect in a sports title (at least, it’s no different from any other major sports title), but where this game really shines is in the post game report. Post-Game is an ESPN themed scrolling update that features stats, highlights, player of the game, and more. It is an absolutely beautifully done feature that adds so much to the game. I’m not a huge presentation guy as you can see by the final scores for presentation don’t weigh as much towards the overall score, but this is impressive to say the least. Easily my favorite pre-game/halftime/post game wrapup in a sports game. (8 out of 8)
3. Commentary is always a risk/reward element of sports gaming. Do you go big and push the envelope? Or do you just go with a standard back and forth commentary and take the low risk approach? NBA Live 14 took the latter approach. While there isn’t anything discernibly outstanding with the commentary, it is up to par with other sports games. Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy are very fluid in their discussions. While there are some bugs such as excessive dead air moments and sometimes a lack of crowd noise in the background (at moments you can tell it is recorded in a studio), that doesn’t detract from an overall decent job done with commentary. (4 out of 8)
Game Modes account for up to 29 points of the total score.
- 1. Career Mode (Worth 8 Points Total)
- 2. Franchise/Season Mode (Worth 8 Points Total)
- 3. Online Modes (Worth 8 Points Total)
- 4. Tutorials/Drills (Worth 5 Points Total)
1. “Rising Star” is the NBA Live version of the single player career mode where you control one player and one player only in an attempt to turn your player into a star. Thus far into my play through, rising star is an excellent mode that hits several areas we expect and hits them well. However, there are several aspects that it falls short. No real drills or such (practice mode) that has an effect on improving your player is a negative. The leveling system itself is very intriguing and the on court point system seems very well balanced. (6 out of 8)
2. Franchise/Season Mode is not exactly up to standard with what we expect from a sports title. There is very little explanation of what you are doing and why. It does have some training to inprove you players, but that is pretty much it. Not a deep experience that will keep you glued to the game, no backstories, just a basic season mode with some added exceptions. If you are a franchise guy… stay away. (3 out of 8)
3. Online modes are certainly hit or miss versus other users. The overall connectivity is poor at best, most of the time and stalwarts such as Ultimate Team that we expect from EA titles is pretty bare bones. The lack of a trade block/auction house really detract from the mode. As far as an online career mode, it isn’t there at all and that is heavily disappointing to many of us. Basically its a “play now” or UT for online… nothing else. (3 out of 8)
4. Tutorials or lack there of… are a HUGE issue here. The original release of the game came without any type of gameplay tutorials as far as the control scheme. Since then EA has provided some tutorials via Twitch but the damage was already done. How a company can release a product without some sort of control explanation during the actual game is beyond me. Like I said above… it’s a huge issue in my mind and one of the main reason that I feel the game was rushed to meet the release date. Pictured is one of the load screens which is one of the only references in game as to the control scheme.(1 out of 5)
Gameplay accounts for up to 50 points of the total score.
- 1. Control Responsiveness (10 Points Total)
- 2. Mechanics (8 Points Total)
- 3. Physics/Collision (8 Points Total)
- 4. Fluid Animations (8 Points Total)
- 5. Teammate AI (8 Points Total)
- 6. CPU Controlled Teams AI (8 Points Total)
1. Control Responsiveness in sports titles is a huge part of making a great game. NBA Live excels at controller responsiveness in the ball handling posrtion of the game, the rest of the game however, certainly lacks polish. Using dribble moves is fun once you learn the controls. Passing is a pain as your player tends to pass the ball late and to the person you didn’t intend to. Many times you will try to pass to the wing but the ball will end up in the low post. This results in the post defender having an easy time stealing the pass. (6 out of 10)
2. Game play Mechanics are also a huge point in sports games. Does the game feel like an authentic replication of the sport? Yes… and no. This is where NBA Live plays a great game of Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde. For every moment you can say “Wow”, there are several where you can say “What the Hell!?!”. Dribbling (Bounce-Tec) is well done… not perfect but well done. Rebounding is good. You won’t see many players standing around waiting on the ball to hit the floor. Boxing out for the rebound works as it should. The screen game is hit or miss. Many times you call for a screen and players won’t respond, which is an absolute pain. The pick and roll game rarely works properly as your teammate doesn’t make the correct decision (whether to roll, pop, or fade). (4 out of 8)
3. Physics and Collisions are present but many times don’t make sense given the situation. Many times you will see contact and a player will bounce to opposite direction or sometimes not even move. Really, the game needs some tweaking in this area… not a whole lot but some. For every complaint I have about physics in the game, I have multiple times where the correct action happens. (6 out of 8)
4. An area that needs major improvements is animations. The overall animations are not very fluid and some of them are downright embarassing. Not that they all look terrible, more so that you are given an animation that makes zero sense contextually within the moment of the game. I have had several instances where the player I’m controlling does a weird looking runner/layup from the elbow running towards the 3 point line. The worst part… it went in! There are way too many “Money” animations such as the euro step. If you have a decent shooter, you can euro step all day and not be stopped. Another area that needs addressed are blocked shots. I love that they are in the game… but for the love of Bird you see jumpshots get blocked left and right. (3 out of 8)
5. Teammate AI is brutal at times. Often times you team mates stand aroundafter calling a play, or make one move and stop. The very rarely try to get open or try for a decent shot. Play calling is pointless at times due to you team not doig much of anything. Defensively they tend to stand around even in man to man. Players are easily beat in full court press, often times ending up in an uncontested layup. Help defense is nearly non-existent. (3 out of 8)
6. CPU Controlled Team AI is fairly good. the CPU will hammer the ball into the post, pass out of double teams, and look for the open shots. It does suffer from some laziness at times as players will forget what they were doing. Every now and then you will see a possesion where the AI will just dribble at the top of the key and players are standing still. At the last second the players will begin to run a play but there is no time left of the shot clock to do much. Defensively, kthe CPU does a good job of rotating and playing help defense. (6 out of 8)
The final product of the game is hardly that as EA has already committed to numerous upgrades throughout the cycle. While we can’t give a score on that we must look at the game as it currently stands. As of this moment, I cannot recommend this game as a purchase unless you are a huge Ultimate Team fan. Rising star mode has its good points but overall the gameplay still needs a lot of work. With several tweeks this would be a very solid title, but as of right now… its barely mediocre.
Read More →