We could spend a ton of time discussing the failings of past NBA Live games. Yes, the last NBA Live game came out in 2009. After that of course the series was rebranded to NBA Elite 11 and soon cancelled into oblivion. Until now. With the release of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One EA has decided to bring back its troubled basketball franchise and try to compete on the next gen consoles. How does the return of NBA Live fair?
Lets dig straight into the gameplay which is probably the biggest question mark on everyones mind. Leading into the release EA was suspiciously shy on showing us true 5 on 5 gameplay. So how does NBA Live 14 play? In short not very well. The focus leading up to release was on bounceTek their physics-based engine for dribbling. Its one of the only things in NBA Live 14 that really can compete with the NBA 2K franchise. The dribbling system which will be familiar to any past Live fans is improved with this new tech running behind the scenes. With the right analog stick your given a great deal of control of your players dribbling and then can modify it using the L1 button the Dual Shock 4. Putting these different dribble combinations together provide some of the most satisfying areas of NBA Live 14. The tech gives you an extra sense of control whether your walking the ball up the court or driving to the lane.
Where things start to fall apart are in the rest of the game. There is a weird pace to a game in NBA Live 14. Player movement feels sluggish like they are just waking up, while the ball seems to shoot out of players hands at the basket. The transitions from offense to defense follow that same path where you have this hitch before the camera turns around and your ready to switch roles. The pacing proves to be a major issue in NBA Live 14 as you never get the frenetic pace of a shoot-first team. In fact most teams start to feel like they are the San Antonio Spurs and we all know that's not fun.
Mechanically if you go back and play NBA Live 10 there are still a lot of similarities between that game and this one. Shooting is an extremely touchy effort and for anyone going from the NBA 2K franchise that transition can be a long and tedious one. There is an art to the timing of shots that took me countless games to get up to speed on. Once I reached over that hurdle the game did become far more bearable then it started out as.
The biggest issue NBA Live 14 has from top to bottom is that it feels like a game that should have been released in 2010 and not 2013. The progression that the NBA 2K franchise adds even more insult to injury. NBA Live 14 is missing a lot of what makes that franchise so special. The commentary is good at the start and end of games but during the games it is repetitive and mediocre at best. There is nothing about the NBA Live 14 experience that feels next-gen. Even more then the lackluster commentary, the graphics are a huge let down for this game. Character models are bland, lighting feels dated, and the overall look doesn't match up to NBA 2K on current-gen.
At this point going through the modes might be pointless given the lackluster game of basketball. However things don't fair much better in this area either as you have a very middle of the road career mode and dynasty mode. Ultimate team makes its way to NBA Live 14 and seems fully featured and is a nice distraction from the main escapade.
The fact that NBA Live 14 was released, is one of the bigger stories of the year. However at the end of the day its a game that feels like step one in a long road back to relevance. Its a shame that the core basketball game still feels like it needs another couple of years of polish to even come close to its competitors. For now we are left with a solid lineup of features and a game of basketball thats just not worth anyones time.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.