Replayablity is the key to a good sports title and outside of the Ultimate Team, NBA Live has lacked that for the past few entries. It’s been a mess there is no sugar coating it, the series which was once the prime of all NBA titles now sits in the backseat looking on like the jealous sibling wishing they had that attention. It’s a new year tho and another chance for EA Sports to tidy up the product, straighten up the ship and deliver us an NBA title worthy of being a true 2k competitor. The question is, have they done it yet? Lucky for you, you’re reading a review of NBA LIve 19 and those questions and more are about to be answered.
There are many aspects to gameplay for a good sports title, I mentioned in my Madden review how the core of the experience is always the same. Unless the league itself makes big changes, then the concept behind the titles will always remain the same and for some fans that makes it feel like these are nothing but roster updates. For the more hardcore fans, the guys who do buy the title year after year, the concept of it just being a roster update couldn’t be further from the truth.
This years Live the gameplay tweaks while minor have been effective, with the general flow of the game being smoother and less jerky it opens it up to a new audience while retaining the love from previous. The way you transition down the court is more in your hands than ever, the game not only allows you to control this flow but has visual reminders of the time you need to cross the half court as well as on court markings to help you run plays makes this a slightly more tactical title. My only real issue in the controls and movements of the players, comes in the form of dunks. While getting there is easy with the right guys, once you hit the rim the game takes over and it becomes more automated than previously. It looks great for the replays but for those who like control it detracts from the experience.
Last season Live introduced ‘The One’ with James Harden as the cover, this year they’ve continued with ‘The One’ but with Joel Embiid as the man and it couldn’t be more fitting. The evolution of Live since it’s break has been a process, small improvements year by year getting ready to compete. While as a Lakers fan I won’t repeat these words outside this review, however for Live 19 I tend to trust the process. The growth is incredible and the array of modes available to the gamer even better. The my career version of Live known as The One is in itself another stack of modes giving you the choice to battle it out in the NBA itself or take it to the streets in a variety of ways including teaming up with other players to take on the world in Live Runs and Events. These modes themselves are sure to keep Live fans interested and coming back for more.
Core modes are here as well from training in scrimmages to shoot arounds and drills, if you don’t know how to play the options are here to teach you. Or you can head straight to play now and take on the team of your choice as either AI or an online opponent. Then once you’ve got some confidence you can head to the franchise mode and run your own team, doing everything from trading to firing and establishing your favourite franchise as a contender once again. While some teams might take more work than others, the fun is getting there and when you finally manage to trade the last of the Bulls to the TimberWolves you can relax.
Let’s tackle the audio first here, the soundtrack like always is a solid one with some great hip-hop titles to get you through the menus but it’s the on court stuff we care about. Unfortuantly it’s the on court stuff where it once again just doesn’t feel like progress, the commentary is beyond repetitive and you’ll find yourself hearing the same lines over and over again within minutes of one another. More often than not those same commentary lines contradict the previous ones, leaving you scratching your head and wondering why you didn’t mute the commentary the last time you went into the menus.
Graphically the Live titles have always been on the cartoony side but this year they’ve stepped it up again and i’d say it competes nicely on that level with it’s rival. However there is one major issue, one moment that for me almost had me write this title off and that was a graphical glitch that resulted in my entire team vanishing from the court. I was still able to play I just had no idea where my guys were located on the court and while I managed to knock down a three with this happening, I’d put that down to a fluke. While a once off occurrence of this is forgivable I’ve now had it happen to me 4 times in total and each time restarting that game was the only fix.
It’s a huge step up from previous seasons and it’s getting closer to competing with the 2K series on a game level. While it’s going to take something huge for it to drag away the fans and bring back the gamers, each step it takes is in the right direction. It’s still got it’s issues, for me losing control of a player while driving to the rim and other graphical glitches are downers but The One mode saves the game in a big way. It’s not perfect, it’s not the #1 basketball option but NBA Live is back and it’s fighting for a respectable 3 and a bit Thumbs up.
Will Muscat is an avid gamer and has been gaming for many years, from playing on an Amstrad that his dad found at the tip to his Xbox one now. Will enjoys plenty of variety in the games he plays and while he can be found in the world of Gears of War and Halo, he can also be found writing letters to RARE asking for another Jet Force Gemini.