NBA Live 14: Hits and Misses

by
Posted December 2nd, 2013 at 2:00 pm

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When EA Sports cancelled NBA Elite 11 and NBA Live 13 the company attempted to capitalize as best they could on the failures by framing the decisions as if they had done consumers a favor. That of course was not the primary consideration behind the moves to cancel them – however in the end it has to be recognized that no one felt ripped off over the four years since their last sim NBA game released.

That was a big reason that many remained open to the return of NBA Live along with the new generation of hardware. NBA Live 14 should not have released then when evaluating the company’s previous declarations. Admirable vision was not realized and seemingly achievable goals were not met. Now the series faces an even more uncertain future. 

HITS

Presentation
One area that did show immense potential is the presentation which utilizes the ESPN license to a great degree. From the music, to the commentary team and Jalen Rose, to the on-screen graphics and halftime show, it all translates extremely well as a fan of the NBA.

The commentary, which began being built many years ago for NBA Elite 11 with Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy, is too often nondescript and has stretches of dead air. It does capitalize however on big plays in an emotional fashion that is recognized from their real broadcasts. There are no “first year” excuses here. It’s just underwhelming. Everything else presentation wise is really well done but of course has room for immense improvement.

Constantly Updated
While it remains to be seen how well EA supports Live 14 post release with gameplay patches and new features – something they’ve now promised will be extensively improved and added to – the game does a good job of connecting to the latest in the NBA.

While the competition currently sits with a roster that is coming up on two months outdated, NBA Live 14 constantly updates player ratings, tendencies, and equipment. The Christmas jerseys were even included in the base product. New “BIG Moments” are added frequently and Live Season can be played day-to-day.

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MISSES

No Tutorial or Practice Gym
What might be the most disastrous decision regarding NBA Live 14 – and that’s saying something considering there is a long line of them – is the absence of any sort of tutorial or even a practice gym. Half the marketing for this game was a single player in a practice gym and it wasn’t included in the product?

NBA Live was gone for four years. This isn’t the typical sports game where maybe it could be argued they could get away without having them because of release every year – but even then they all have their own forms of tutorials and ways to practice and improve skills.

There is no way to learn how to play except jumping into games and experiencing failure. That punishment is not the way to bring in new consumers who will stick around. While the competition often is cited for inaccessibility to newcomers, NBA Live 14 is no more accessible than that game.

Gameplay
Without compelling gameplay nothing else much matters. NBA Live 14′s is riddled with issues and immense deficiencies that will make it undesirable to play and therefore nullify any of the positives found elsewhere in the product.

The much touted dribbling system does not feel like any sort of advancement and not being able to practice moves assures that very few will experience what EA claims it can do. There is absolutely no mid-range game not much reason to attempt outside shooting with default settings. At least offline there is an option to switch to ratings determining shot success instead of timing being factored in. Not having that option online completely wrecks the games there. Unlike NBA Live 10 there is very little off-ball movement without calling plays. And before someone says to adjust sliders to address some issues…there are no sliders.

The biggest issue might be how delayed everything is. By the time a button is pressed, and the animation plays out, opportunities are gone. An open man under the basket? He won’t be by the time the pass arrives. An open shot? It won’t be by the time he rises for it.

Online Play
Once you get past the fact that there’s barely anyone that owns this game so potential opponents are few, the online games can be somewhat fun just in having a human opponent rather than the dull CPU. However the delay to everything is only more pronounced online and there is zero chance to having any success shooting threes or even mid-range shots.

Shot charts at the end of games are all that need to be seen to understand what is happening. Timing shots properly is difficult if not impossible and even when the white flash shows the timing was right wide open shots are missed in frustrating fashion. There is no mid-range game because there is no space for shooters to go up with a clear shot when the delay in passing and shooting allows defenders to be right on them contesting the shots or often blocking them.

There is no Online Dynasty, Leagues, or Team Play. The only things EA got right were introducing a seven game series against friends that keeps track of the record and basic Online Seasons. Even then going into the seven game series section in the menu freezes the game so they need to be set up individually and that area avoided.

Visuals
There really is no questioning that the graphics don’t meet next-gen expectations. Even EA admitted they recognize this. Player faces are often horrendous (just look at LeBron above), some player models are awkward, and animations are outdated and stiff. Seats are left empty along the sidelines. The reflections on the court though are excellent.

All Modes
Career and Dynasty are about as basic and vanilla as they come. Ultimate Team (which could have been intriguing) lacks an Auction House, ability to play friends, complete collections, or set multiple lineups. The BIG Moments, which introduce new scenarios based on events in the NBA, are tedious and unnatural to play and have bugs like the crowd noise disappearing completely for long stretches. Online lacks modes that could have capitalized on the competition’s failure to deliver in that area as well.

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The approach to rebooting the NBA Live series required the first year would reestablish some credibility with consumers. It was not able to accomplish even that much. The product has some good ideas behind it but lacks in execution. Now, if there is an NBA Live 15, EA will essentially be starting all over yet again.

  • Relly

    I wonder when Live fans are gonna get tired of rebuilding? they had this same plan from live 07-10 then restarted it with elite 11-13 (all cancelled) now this is another rebuilding year? LOL smh just hang it up EA and let another company come in and try to make some competition.

  • Keith.

    I’m confused by the “constantly updated” claim, given that guys at OS who apparently have the game are saying that trades have been missed, that players are wearing the wrong jersey numbers and equipment/clothing, that players who are injured in real life are still starting in Live, and that there are still generic players in the game with names like “S. Guard”.

    http://www.operationsports.com/forums/nba-live/688205-ea-stop-lying-us.html

    Either way, this game is definitely going to be one and done. I mean, after 2 weeks of release, the game hasn’t even sold enough copies to be tracked by vgchartz. Ain’t no way EA’s investors are going to approve of throwing even more good money after bad.

    • Casor_Greener

      They probably thought about not releasing it, but went ahead and said “@#$H it” and delivered anyway. I haven’t seen anything positive about this game except from that daley dude

      • Keith.

        I’m sure the investors are also noticing. Not that all of EA’s misfortunes are tied to Live, but EA’s stock has dropped from $27.99 on September 4, 2013, to $21.90 at the close of the bell today, a drop of more than $6.00 in 3 months.

        Not a good time for the NBA Live dev team to be looking for more resources to be thrown their way.

        http://finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=EA+Interactive#symbol=ea;range=3m;compare=;indicator=volume;charttype=area;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=off;source=undefined;

        • bltzkrieg666

          Once again Kruk talking out his ass. NBA Live isn’t even a significant part of EA portfolio. Peter Moore stated that 80% of the companies revenue stream comes from Battlefield and FIFA. The other 20% will surely be consumed by titles like Madden, NHL, The Sims, Sim City, Dead Space, Mass Effect. If anything had a negative impact on EA’s stock it was the relative poor performance of Star Wars: The Old Republic. A lot of money was invested in this game and it hasn’t performed well at all and now its relegated to the free to play realm. NBA Live is but a small blip on the radar. Seriously Kruk, do you just make shit up to support your lame theories. Try actually doing some real research and stop making unqualified speculations so as to make yourself seem intelligent to your feeble minded cronies that seem to gravitate to your mindless drivel.

          • Keith.

            I’d be pretty bitter if I were you, too, Daley.

    • Samutuck

      You don’t play around Keith when comes down to the financial side with games. Men lie women lie numbers don’t!

      • Khadeem

        too bad the vast majority of us dont give a damn

    • Details

      EA actually has one more year left on their contract with the NBA. So unless they decide to just eat the rest of it then there probably will be a Live 15. If nothing else they’ll probably invest as little as possible in Live 15 & put the game out hoping to recoup some of their losses just like they did with Live 14 this year. Of course EA will come out & say all the right things (we’re in it for the long hall, blah, blah) but you’re right, there’s no way EA will continue to invest in this series if it doesn’t sell & they continue to lose money on it. There’s a reason Live 14 is only 9GB’s. EA knows this series is probably done.

      • Keith.

        EA’s last few sets of financials have shown something like a $7 million “license termination fee” — they’ve never said what that was, and it doesn’t appear to be connected to Live, but it shows EA will consider paying an early penalty to kill an unsuccessful license.

    • bltzkrieg666

      Kruk, you don’t play the game so spare us you commentary. If you want to know about live or you have questions about live, try asking someone who actually plays the game. If you don’t play the game then your comments aren’t necessary.

  • Juukbox

    The game is lacking in so many areas. Even with the in season updates they announced that will add better graphics and update gameplay, how much more of a difference could it possibly make??? I guess we will see in the upcoming months.

  • Skopin

    I can’t imagine them starting from scratch again. They need to keep going in one direction if they ever want to make any real progress.

    • Keith.

      I don’t think giving games like Live or MLB2k “another 3 years” is the solution. If the game’s bad to begin with, another few development cycles isn’t going to make any difference. All it will do is widen the gap with the competition.

      If you look at EA’s financials, sports game dev/R&D expenses are going down not up. No way EA bucks the trend and does something like double Live’s dev team at this point. Instead, they’ll milk what they can out of the few people who bought it and quietly let slip to IGN or VentureBeat sometime next year that the series is on “hiatus,” with members of the dev team being offered jobs in other areas of the company (assuming they weren’t the victims of some prior layoffs).

      • Skopin

        I would agree, but I still think that Live 14 has a decent foundation. There is definitely potential if they stick to the path and put the effort into it. Yes, it needs a lot of work, but the base is there. The only question is whether or not they will be given the resources to build on it.

      • loveISaFIST

        You and Michael Pachter should hang out, talk numbers and stocks, drink wine, and screw…

  • Bowinkle82

    good job finding some hits pasta

  • Brian

    Hits: The box opens allowing typical access to the game disk. The game works.

    Misses: Everything else.

  • TMack1986

    So EA can incorporate a pretty decent presentation and halftime show for the crappy live but why not do that for Madden? Which has been lacking in presentation for a decade or longer.

  • Santini

    I have to look at this from a different perspective. Had this game launched on only Ps3/360, then it would be much more damning but considering they did re-start the franchise on a new console cycle, this definitely has to be sign that things will get better. Unlike the PS3/360 which have probably already peaked, what will be possible with PS4/XBOne could mean a lot of better games over the next 3 years. Just like how a lot of people are skipping on FIFA/Madden/NBA 2K until the 2015 games come out, hopefully Live gets improved as well.

    Funny how we complain about the lack of competition but when we get it, we still find a reason to complain.

    • B-Dog

      But this wasn’t any “competition” from EA, this is downright garbage. Of course people are gonna complain if the game blows. They should. 60 bills is WAY to much for a game like NBA Live 14. Wake me up when EA brings some REAL competition to the table.

  • http://www.intelligencer.ca/ Dave Vachon

    IMO, they should have released this as a free to play beta and worked on it from there with user input. Clearly this game is not worth $60, or $20 for that matter. They knew that, but released it anyway. Release this as a beta (maybe even for two years) and get the users to help you make it a legit product.

  • CSaint

    Those faces are misses

  • Ben Wells

    I’m still laughing at all the people that said live would be better than 2k14.. they would say that with a straight face too haha!!

    • hungryandrew

      I remembered when they first released the logo for NBA Live 14, with a shadow of a basketball player in the background, people were saying Live is Back, smh.

    • 2kbroken

      2k not even working tho.

  • B-Dog

    I doubt seriously if there will be an NBA Live 15. Who the hell is gonna buy it? EA has screwed up it’s NBA Live series so bad over the last 4 years that the damage is now done permanently. Even hardcore Live fans don’t believe in the product anymore. Even DALEY can’t defend this hunk a shit! Time to close up shop EA, you guys just can’t cut it anymore when it comes to basketball games.

  • Mario

    You hit a lot of points accurately but I think your lack of basketball knowledge hurt your gameplay perspective. The gameplay could be a lot better but you are totally wrong about shooting, mid range and off play. I think that is dependent on the team you play with. I play with the grizzlies. I never call a play. I am able to knock down mid range and 3 points at about a 40 percent clip which is realistic. Shooters also move from wing to wing and bigs float from high to low post to mid range, pending on where ball is. The game is not awful. Every person that knows basketball or has played enjoys this game not because it is perfect, but see the potential as a good basketball sim. 2k14 is arcadish and people enjoy it for the dunks, threes, and fast breaks which is only a small piece of basketball.

    • jake

      Only someone with no basketball knowledge would applaud EA for anything with Live and call 2K arcadey lol

      • Skopin

        Only someone who focuses solely on graphics would say they did nothing right.

  • rick

    any one else feel that EA should only focus on a few game series.. i feel they have spread themselves way too thin…

    • Todd Jones

      With the money they make, they COULD just hire enough people to make proper games. I’m guessing the teams who make Madden and NCAA last gen probably consisted of less than 10 coders and artists each. They just recycle what they did last year, add some new animations and tweak the sliders.

  • hungryandrew

    Hits? More like hits from a crack pipe

  • hungryandrew

    NBA Jive 14

  • hungryandrew

    NBA Lied 14

  • hungryandrew

    Downloaded the demo, played a quarter, deleted it from the hard drive.

  • Nathan Shane Long

    One question when did it become cool to be ANTI-EA I MEAN REALLY PASTA I WATCHED YOUR TWITCH BROADCASTS AND JUST BECAUSE YOU SUCK AT PLAYING THE GAME DOES NOT MEAN THAT GAMEPLAY IS BAD

    • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

      Anti-EA??? I’m anti-bad games, bad business practices, misleading marketing, and the like. If I was anti-EA FIFA would not have won the last two game of the year awards from the site and NCAA Football 14 would not be in the running this year.

      • Nathan Shane Long

        That is total B.S. Pasta you know if 2K made a soccer game or a college football game you would automatically give them an awards since you are a biased 2K fanboy yourself anyway it’s funny to me how all the 2K fanboys say “Madden sucks” and “Live sucks” even though truth be told most 2K fanboys use to be Live fanboys and played live several years ago when live had the better and stronger online community and the better game from live 08-live 10 and that is a fact

        • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

          Yep. I’m such a 2K fanboy that people accuse me of being a 2K hater too.

          I simultaneously am a fanboy for every game/company and a hater for them too. That’s an accomplishment.

        • Samutuck

          Nathan, stop defending a company that does not even give a 50 percent effort for their consumers. Customers like you are very gullible. If you were whale I would be able to sell you water.

          • Nathan Shane Long

            Are you just another 2K brainwashed sheep or not?

      • bltzkrieg666

        Pasta, saying that Live 14 is a bad game is completely out of context. If there were no 2k to make comparisons to, then you wouldn’t be making these same assertions. You like most reviewers are completely misguided in your expectations. Live is a first year induction to the genre. 2k is an established product that hasn’t been on hiatus. All of YOUR complaints about live are justified but in no way make the game bad. The fact that you don’t like the lack of a practice gym or the game is too hard to figure out on the fly still doesn’t make the game bad. Learn how to play the game and the game plays a rewarding game of basketball. The problem is that you haven’t played a real basketball game in a long while so your used to the arcady 2k. Live isn’t perfect and could use some polish but it is nowhere near a bad game. At least live is completely functional out of the box unlike 2k, a problem that occurs every single year the game releases. THAT IS THE DEFINITION OF A BAD GAME.

        • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

          It’s a $60 game. Its going to be judged as one. Consumers have to consider it vs where else to spend $60. They don’t deserve slack for being a terrible game just because its the first year.

        • Samutuck

          Blizkrieg666, you are being unreasonable with your claims to Pasta. What makes you think that Nba Live 15 comes out or improves with low sales and a small budget from EA corporate? You keep saying that EA only had one year to make this game, but they had three years to get it right and they dropped the ball again. People like you is why we continue to be low balled by corporations with sub-par product. Stop being a blind defender to a company that does not want to give their consumers their best effort.

  • Weekend Roady

    Well, I downloaded the NBA Live 14 demo last night. Still afraid to try it…

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