EA Sports has decided to return to the basketball market by releasing NBA Live 18 this year. Does it manage to usurp the 2K's popular NBA 2K franchise?
Ever since the release of NBA 2K11, 2K Sports has remained to be king of the basketball video game genre. EA Sports has tried to reclaim its crown, but the NBA Live series continued to be ignored.
However, NBA Live 18 is somewhat of a big improvement as EA Sports has mimicked some of the modes seen in the 2K series. Not only that, but EA Sports has majorly improved the graphics and visual presentation.
The thing I admire most about NBA Live 18 is its partnership with ESPN. Unlike in the 2K series, the presentation in this game is more authentic as it features the same music and graphics that ESPN uses on television.
My favourite feature is the post-match replay system. You can look at the top 3 plays of every basketball game you play and see the highlights for each team.
The authenticity doesn't stop there because the commentary is a big improvement over previous games too. In past NBA Live games, the commentary was stale and there would be long stretches of silence.
In this game however, commentators Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy manage to sound more enthusiastic this time around and more dialogue is given to them to make the commentary sound less repetitive.
Visually, the graphics have had a big overhaul. The lighting effects look arguably better than in NBA 2K18. I feel players like LeBron James, James Harden and Russell Westbrook look more realistic here than they do in NBA 2K18.
That said, only the major stars look good in NBA Live 18. The face scans and skin tones look inaccurate for players that's aren't stars. New Zealand's own Steven Adams looks ugly here in NBA Live 18.
The ugliness doesn't stop there because the game also falters when it comes to the animation. EA Sports continues to lack a variety of animations as they continue to reuse dunks and shots that just aren't seen in real life.
For example in the NBA 2K video games, they animate loads of slam dunks that capture the signature moves for each player. In other words, no two dunks look the same. Here in NBA Live 18, the dunks look all the same no matter who you are controlling.
The shooting animations are slightly better, although sometimes you will be able to make unrealistic looking shots and layups.
Despite the bad animations, the core gameplay is actually decent for the most part. It's not as fluid and smooth as in NBA 2K, but it's a good start in the right direction. The A.I. manages to defend well and it features fast gameplay.
The only thing that might annoy some people are three point shots. I managed to make so many three pointers with Stephen Curry no matter how many times he was contested. Hopefully a patch is added in order to make shooters less deadly from beyond the arc to balance out the gameplay.
New to this game is a career mode called “The One”. You create your own player in hopes of becoming famous on both The Streets or in the real NBA. It’s similar to the career mode in the 2K series as you have to perform well to increase your stats.
“The One” is quite fun and you even get to see ESPN’s Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith talk about your player’s success as you progress. Not to mention EA’s mode is not as microtransaction heavy as this year’s NBA 2K18.
Another new thing that this game has is the addition of WNBA players. I admire EA’s effort to include women since they added female players in the FIFA franchise too.
Anyway, NBA Live 18 is a step in the right direction for EA Sports. The presentation is excellent and the gameplay is enjoyable. The things that EA Sports needs to work on in the future are to add in more animations and improve the face scans for the bench players.