NBA Live 15 Is The Game That Should Have Rebooted The Series

Posted October 27th, 2014 at 10:30 am


EA Sports isn’t treating NBA Live 15 like it’s a critical release for the series which desperately needs to establish itself on stable ground and show potential to achieve significant growth in the market within the next few years. In fact they’ve shown little urgency at all and even have basically admitted it’s not a stellar product. No one would have been fooled otherwise but it stands in stark contrast to the way the company promoted previous failed efforts where they instead presented a certain bravado and failed to back it up.

After spending the six hours with Live 15 through EA Access the murky picture has cleared up somewhat. No, it doesn’t really deserve credit for being “better than Live 14”, but standing on its own it’s a decent effort. That comes maybe a year or several years too late but the progress being made is evident and some may even find fun to be had from the product. 

The best way to sum up NBA Live 15 is that it would have been an acceptable Live 14. It has a lot of gameplay-related issues, and doesn’t offer much in the way of compelling content, but it has its share of successes also and this time around the problems could potentially be overlooked in favor of just having fun with it. That really wasn’t possible with Live 14 which EA probably would have been better off for the long-term not releasing.


One of the biggest issues with Live 14 was that it lacked any sort of tutorial or practice modes. That has been rectified this time around and EA even forces some of the tutorials on users when they first start up the game. They’re effective in teaching simple elements of playing the game and there are a bunch more that aren’t included in that initial run-through. Practice and scrimmages are also available.

Gameplay displays much more fluidity to the action though the stiffness of players and animations remain and there are instances of warping and sliding around the court. A lack of off-ball movement is a concern even with LB being used to manually force some movement. The CPU’s offense seems to be based on taking a ton of three pointers and maybe getting an offensive board for a put back. However the ball does seem to go through the star players, who stand out fairly well from everyone else, and even the CPU recognizes that on defense as they doubled LeBron James each time he touched the ball in one game I played.

The new shooting meter and release timing feedback seems to be a positive in that you do get an understanding of why a shot may have went in or been off the mark. However, even with a “great release”, I haven’t found any contested shots being made. It’s not even worth attempting a contested shot. It could be due to sample size or it may be a serious issue – it’s just not something I could determine in that period of time.

Areas that stood out to me as big positives compared to Live 14 were in rebounding and stealing. It seems like the right guy is pulling down the board even though there are so few rebounding animations that you see the same ones over and over. Steal attempts seem to be handled well with lunges and strips really depending on where the ball is and how it’s being protected. Going for a steal in the wrong situation will result in a foul but if you time it right and go at it right there’s a chance of success. That can lead into fast breaks another big element of basketball that was completely missing last year but is represented fairly well in Live 15.

ESPN presentation does bring with it a certain undeniable authenticity from the music to the screen wipes and score bug. The commentary duo of Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy adds good emotion to exciting moments but in general they’re too generic and unspecific in their calls. Bringing back Mark Jackson (he was recorded with them for NBA Elite 11 before he got into coaching) would probably spice things up in future editions. The crowd and atmosphere is very good bringing back some memories of NBA Live 10 which truly excelled in that area.


Rising Star mode remains a very basic and bland Career mode. There’s no off-the-court angles to the mode so things get boring real quick. Teammate AI seemed better than that found in the competition’s Career mode but it still seemed as though the bulk of the scoring relied on me. You have more control over what happens, which could be seen as a positive or a negative, as calling for a pass will always get you the ball and pressing the shoot button will get your teammates to shoot. I put up huge numbers in the “Jordan Take Flight Showcase” and got drafted #3 to the Sixers. It seems the game bumps all the rookies back a pick then so a big chunk of realism in the mode is damaged as almost all rookies end up on the wrong team.

Also included in Live 15 is an Ultimate Team mode which brings in much needed features like an Auction House, and “Big Moments” which I still find uninteresting and anti-climatic upon completion. Dynasty mode is largely unchanged from last year and there’s no Online Dynasty or Leagues. It’s also important to note that there are no sliders in the game so those who like to tinker with gameplay won’t have the ability to do so.

Online play, and server stability, is being touted by EA Sports in an attempt to take advantage of the difficulty the competition is having. However online play was very poor in Live 14 and the limited experiences I’ve had in Live 15 have been about as bad. Input lag makes timing jump shots nearly impossible – everything comes up with a “late release” and there’s really no way to adjust and find the successful release point.


It remains to be seen whether Live 15 will be enough to keep the series from being buried for good. The odds appear to be stacked against it surviving another year. There’s now at least something to point towards as evidence that the franchise could get to where it needs to be someday. After four years of failure, and a complete erosion of consumer loyalty coupled with the rise of the competition, that simply may not be enough.

For more on the game make sure to listen to the latest Press Row Podcast where I discuss all my impressions of NBA Live 15!

  • Danny

    RIP Live, to little to late.

  • Juukbox

    I like having a choice when playing basketball games. 2K is a great game but it does has it flaws for sure. is NBA Live the answer? Maybe, maybe not. But all I know is that its nice to have an option now. I hope we can continue to have options in the foreseeable future when it comes to basketball gaming.

    • vito

      an educated man! glad to see 🙂

      • Juukbox

        Yea man. Not having a choice, whether it’s bad or good, is something we need.

        • Lukesdad16

          Not having competition would make 2k not even try to improve their game

          • Keith.

            Nonsense. With no competition to speak of the last 5 years, 2K’s taken basketball from a niche seller to the best selling sports game in America.

            Competition can be important, but with developers who have talent and a real passion for their sport, sometimes that’s enough. See NBA 2K, The Show and even The Golf Club as prime examples.

          • Skopin

            Eh, I wouldn’t say with no competition. 2k was pretty stagnant after 2k11, until this year. 2k12-2k14 on last gen didn’t do much in the way of innovation, and 2k14 on XB1/PS4 didn’t change much other than a graphics leap and a story mode.

            But, for 2k15, there is actually a noticeable difference in gameplay, and I think that is in large part to Live being a potential threat in the future.

          • EAhater

            …just like Madden.

  • Sdot



  • Iown You

    So after this article, will PastaPadre be called an EA fanboy or hater or a 2K fanboy or hater?

    I can’t wait to see the results.

    • Both, simultaneously of course.

      • Sdot


      • Just have fun

        You did have a “u mad bro” tone tho. You act like they owe you something. on my way to gamestop now. Nice buzz out here in IL about it. Its been enough negativity, just play and have fun. We two games now. Don’t be mad, bro. Peace

  • Raso

    One thing that the EA Access trails have had against them is that every company, EA is no exception, are doing day-one patches that are not ready for the Trail. I suspect a few of the issues that can be fixed through a patch are planned, but you won’t see them until you actually pick-up the game. FIFA, Madden and NHL all had day-one/zero patches, so I suspect we’ll see the same thing with live either tonight or early tomorrow morning.

    But, from the looks of it, this is the ‘shots-fired’ basketball fans have been waiting for and 2K will have to push out a revolutionary title next year in order to keep their lead in the market.

    Now, we just need PES to give us more details regarding their launch next month so the soccer world can continue to be competitive.

    • MBird

      You can think of it as a “shots-fired” release all you want, but I’m willing to bet that you are part of the small 1-5% of basketball gamers that think that way. A few people may like/buy Live for no other reason than to show 2K that there are still a dozen or so people that will buy a seemingly early in development Live.

      Also, don’t assume that I’m not for competition, I very much am, but this is not competition, not yet, but hopefully it will be sooner than later, because I can see EA giving up again if they don’t get the results they want soon, and then we risk the possibility of 2K slowing innovation/development and becoming content.

      • Skopin

        Both games do different things well, and both struggle in some areas. 2k is definitely more polished, but that’s to be expected. If EA continues to make jumps like they did this year, they are definitely back in the running. Live 15 is decent, and most importantly, fun.

        • Sdot



          Its not that hard 2 go from the worst (literally) to mediocre BUT

          To go from middle of the pack to top of ur division that’s A MUCH MORE DIFFICULT LEAP 2 MAKE

          Live isn’t the worst anymore woot woot but u getn a head of urself thinking that there on the cusp of dethroning KING 2K

          • Skopin

            I didn’t say it was there this year. But if they continue to improve every year as much as they did this year, then it won’t be long until they’re neck and neck.

  • mikeq672

    I keep saying it, but the effort EA is showing in the last few years of games, has been completely lackluster. Other than the FIFA team every one of their games continues to get worse. I sincerely hope the company implodes and someone else picks up the pieces and makes decent football/hockey games and what ever else people want.

  • Pacoheadley

    Rookies getting bumped is a negative?? I hated how in almost every sports game you’d get drafted and your team magically has two people drafted in the same spot, it was unfair and extremely unrealistic. Instead of bumping everyone back a spot, they should have a redraft according to team needs, but bumping everyone back is way better than giving a team 2 picks.

    • Sdot



  • hungryandrew

    NBA DIED 15

  • daseffects

    Game plays way better after update…controls are more responsive…and imo graphics look better than 2k15

    • Keith.

      One post here, and it’s to pimp Live while knocking 2K15’s graphics, which have been best in class for awhile now? And praising the Live “update” at roughly the same time the retail game’s released? I smell a Game Changer.

      • daseffects

        I play both actually got 2k15 on ps4 and live 15 on xbox one. And live 15 looks better to me, not saying 2k15 looks bad. Instead of hating u should give it a try.

      • Skopin

        “I also continue to be blown away with what I’m seeing in MyCareer with NBA 2k15. I never thought 2K15 would beat out The Show for my own personal Sports Game of the Year, since I’m a much bigger baseball fan than I am a basketball fan, and since The Show’s such a great game, but I’ve never played a mode anywhere near as immersive as what MyCareer with 2K15 delivers. I finally finished up my first season and after testing free agency, my 78 overall PG landed a starting job with the 76ers…I love how when you’re choosing between teams in free agency, the amount of VC you earn per game (and the number of years on the contract) varies per team. Just great, great stuff.”

        Found this gem on the Line Drive. You were saying something about pimping a game?

    • Juukbox

      I really hope gaming websites actually review the game with the updated patch.

      • mikeq672

        Gaming websites give reviews based on who pays them, not based on the game.

        • Juukbox

          That’s why I rely on myself to make the choice whether I like the game or not. Scores mean nothing.

  • EAhater

    Whether Live sucks or not, its nice to have CHOICE. To be honest Madden probably would be on the outs as well if it had competition to expose it for the incompetent game that it is.

  • JS0078

    When I first started showing up at this site, Pastapadre milked the tits of NBA Live like no other. Year in and year out, you could bet on the fact he’d be a Live fanboy. Probably wasn’t until about 2010-2011 that he started to acknowledge the series had issues. And to be fair, Live held it’s own back then and it wasn’t until 2010-2011 that it really “tanked”. Prior to that it was really just a matter of what style basketball game you preferred, where live was always geared towards more “arcade” style and 2k was more on the “sim” side. But whatever. After having not been on this site in forever, I’m glad to see that he’s not just a one sided Live fan anymore. Only thing I can’t tolerate when coming here now is all these annoying podcast articles that clutter up and bury all the other stories. Who actually listens to those anyways?

  • HeatFan786

    I have an idea for EA. Take a user poll on how to improve the game. Take a couple of years off and model the game around what people want.