While 'NBA 2K' was winning over legions of fans for their wonderful MyCareer mode, the guys at EA Tiburon were developing their own answer with the 'Rising Star' mode. Rising Star is essentially a clone of the MyCareer mode and it is a poorly made one at that.
'NBA Live 14' on the Xbox One is a basketball simulation video game developed by EA Tiburon and published by Activision on the next gen consoles.
The 'NBA Live' series, developed by EA Tiburon, has been considered one of the only legitimate points of competition for the revered 'NBA 2K' series that is released every year. So when the series went off the radar for a couple of years, presumably so the company could get themselves together for a new release, basketball video game fans were rightfully worried. Having competition keeps these sorts of games thriving. When 'Madden' lost its primary competition in the 'NFL 2K' series, the game went on to become a placid caricature of itself. That isn't to say it is bad, but that it didn't need to evolve upon itself. There was no competition. So when 'NBA Live 14' was announced for the Xbox One we were rightfully excited. Here was a chance for us to get on the hardwood via a different company. Here was a chance for something special.
We were so wrong.
With Kyrie Irving adorning the cover of the game (he would later go on to miss most of the season that year with an injury) we gleefully unwrapped the packing. Throwing the disc into our Xbox disc tray, we then ran back to our couch and turned up the volume. A few moments later we were being hit with an awesome looking rendered introduction video of our favorite basketball players hooping on the court. LeBron James looked amazing going to the rim, Irving spun into the lane for a crazy lay up, and Derrick Rose added his own two handed dunk. The music and animation brought us in and we thought for sure, for absolutely sure, that we were about to get something special. After three years of development this game was going to be pretty incredible. We were ready to pledge allegiance to the 'Live' franchise without even trying 'NBA 2K14'.
We opted to dive straight into exhibition game play so as to get a feel for how the game checked out. We wanted to know how the ball handled in our hands before we dove into the deeper game modes. A moment later we were in Madison Square Garden as the New York Knicks ready to take on the Miami Heat. The stadium looked pretty good and the players themselves looked awesome, but something was just flat about the presentation. We know that the 'Live' series has always taken a backseat to '2K' in that regard but we didn't expect it to be so... dull.
Once on the court the game came back to us quickly. Using the right trigger you could implement the 'revolutionary' new BounceTek dribble system. There were no tutorials put in place to teach us how to use this feature but we managed to find our way around it before too long. Using a good ball handler we were able to hit the BounceTek stick at the right time in order to do some pretty cool moves while attacking the basket.
The basic core of a strong basketball game is on hand for those that were looking for it. You can dribble, drive, dunk, and shoot the ball from anywhere on the court. Attacking the rim felt pretty good and dunks resonated in our hands. The animations and physics of the net oddly stole the show for us as every shot seemed unique once it got through the bucket.
We ended our exhibition at half time and decided to move on to something new. We didn't hate our first experience with the game but we definitely felt like something was a little bit off. Shaking that vibe we headed over to check out the different game modes available.
While 'NBA 2K' was winning over legions of fans for their wonderful MyCareer mode, the guys at EA Tiburon were developing their own answer with the 'Rising Star' mode. Rising Star is essentially a clone of the MyCareer mode and it is a poorly made one at that. Once you start into the game mode you get to do a few minor customizations of your created character before you are launched into the draft. You eventually land on a pro team where you are then graded for every action you communicate while out on the court. Perform well and gain points so that you can upgrade your stats. The skeleton of a fun game mode was here but it lacked the flash and depth of the MyCareer mode that most of us had fallen in love with. And that sort of defined the other game modes as well (Exhibition, Franchise). We saw what we should be enjoying, but there was never anything more complicated underneath.
Now that we were starting to realize how mediocre the game was we decided to head to the online mode. If there was once place where the developers could not ruin the experience, it would be on the internet. We quickly realized this was a mistake.
Trying to play online was akin to running through a pool full of honey. Everything pushed against you and before long you would be too frustrated to even try playing the game. Lag was constant and connecting with random people was almost impossible. Once you WERE in the game you would have to contend with cheap opponents and unrealistic decisions by the AI around you. We quickly put the online mode in the garbage and walked away from it.
While this review sounds pretty harsh we do have some kind words for the Live Season mode. This Live Season mode allows you to play alongside the current NBA season, updating as things happen in real life. it was a cool way to keep things fresh but we have a feeling that, as the next title gets ready to release, it will quit being maintained--thus dashing the one redeeming feature of the title.
'NBA Live 14' on the Xbox One ended up being one of the most disappointing games we played this year. Everything was in its corner for it to be a success, but nothing came together in the end. On the other hand 'NBA 2k14' ended up being our favorite sports game to be released.