NBA Live 14 has made it's semi-triumphant return back on the PlayStation 4. The game was developed by EA Tiburon (of MADDEN fame) and published by Electronic Arts. What makes this entry so special is that it was the first release of the NBA Live series since 2009.
- DualShock 4
Required Disc Space:
- 25GB Minimum
Supported Video Output:
- Blu-ray Disc
Average Playing Time:
- 7 Hours
'NBA Live 14' has made it's semi-triumphant return back on the PlayStation 4. The game was developed by EA Tiburon (of MADDEN fame) and published by Electronic Arts. What makes this entry so special is that it was the first release of the NBA Live series since 2009. With this game being three years in development there were high expectations for how the product would play once it hit the PlayStation 4. Unfortunately this latest entry came out with more of a whimper than a bang, and there are more than a couple reasons for this fact. Let's delve into what went wrong with Live '14 in order to find out how it can be fixed going forward.
Rusty, not polished.
When Madden 25 dropped for the PlayStation 4 in the same year it had fans everywhere hyped. The game came out fluid and nearly flawless as it sculpted out a realistic portrayal of professional football. Fans had those same expectations when they took a step down the gaming rack in order to grab this version of NBA Live. The results could not have been any more opposite. The game features Kyrie Irving on the cover and it has a pretty solid soundtrack. The problems with this game don't become apparent until you first take control of the ball.
A not so fluid experience.
Most fans find that a fluid ball control system should be the base line for an effective basketball game. After all, no other sport relies on the twitch muscles more than the NBA. You have to be in control at every step of your drive, juke, and finish in order to get around talented opposition. For the PS4, this control does not appear to be there. The closest thing we can describe the feeling of ball handling is 'floaty'. Your ball handler, regardless of their attributes, always seems like it is a microsecond behind what you want to do with the ball. Your handle doesn't feel smooth and you will suffer getting into the flow of the game, accordingly.
Yet, even with the shaky controls many players can overlook the problems in order to enjoy the game. After all, we are the generation that grew up playing hard to master games on the Super Nintendo. We can deal with shaky controls. Yet the problem isn't reserved for just how your player handles. One of the biggest issues in most sports games is that they are not competitively balanced. While we like winning, nobody likes feeling like it came for free. The AI in 'NBA Live 14' is dramatically inconsistent. On the easiest modes you will be able to blow the opposition out while playing with one hand. If you tick the difficulty up to the hard modes then your own players will inexplicably forget how to dribble a ball or score a bucket. There's no happy medium there for players who want winnable games in a competitive atmosphere.
Not a Next Gen look.
With your PlayStation 4 proudly dominating the center of your entertainment center, you would think that any game you put into it would blow you away. The PS4 is a hefty piece of hardware and it can do some really special things with all of the new graphic engines that are available nowadays. Unfortunately, 'NBA Live 14' doesn't really do it for us. The game, from the very beginning, looks outdated and jerky. Player models are bland and look plastic and even the rendered cutscenes when you first turn on the game look less than impressive. Sports games typically reserve all of their graphical power for making the action on court look fantastic. We don't really care about the crowd or the stadium. So knowing that the on court action is in focus, there is no excuse for how tacky the game can look at times.
So what's new?
When looking at NBA Live it is hard to find much polish among all of the rust. Why doesn't this game have new and advanced features like its Madden release counterpart? While there is no 'connected franchise' to network players in, there is a pretty cool mode called 'Big Moments'. When you hear that title your mind may go to a game mode where you get to play the big moments from games long in the past. This isn't exactly accurate. Instead, 'Big Moments' are constantly uploaded in real time over the course of the season. Remember when Kobe hit that big shot to beat so-and-so a few days ago? Yeah, well now you have the opportunity to replay that moment. It's a cool little addition and the fact that it is constantly being updated does provide for some nice longevity. There is a sense of accomplishment when you actually perform the moment like it happened in real life but it is short lived. It's a free and constantly evolving part of the game. We can't complain.
So why play 'NBA Live 14' on the PS4?
If there is any reason to get your hands on the 'rebooted' NBA Live game it would solely be due to the 'Big Moments' feature. The PlayStation 4 Network, outside of outliers, has been a wonderful source of entertainment for console owners since its inception. The fact that it is always online and ready to makes the constantly evolving gameplay that 'Big Moments' gives players a cornerstone to build off of. While the gameplay itself is pretty shaky, it is still playable. And if you can find a way to satisfy the difficulty of the game then there is the possibility that you will end up enjoying it.
If anything, it is good to have NBA Live back on the market. The NBA 2K series was left unchecked for too long and that has allowed the company to become complacent. With opposition on the market it should drive both franchises to build something better in the future. So while we can't suggest playing 'NBA Live 14' on the PlayStation 4 with a full heart, we can say that you should keep an eye on the title in the future.