Electronic Arts’ NBA Live generally gets a bad reputation every year.
Why does NBA Live always get trashed by the general videogame community by default? This was a questioning plaguing me for years now. I couldn’t figure out many of the reasons why this train of thought has become the “go-to” conclusion for the series. Why? With all things, I had to travel back to the day when the Sega Dreamcast made its’ debut in late 1999. Anyone remember those days? The NBA 2K series was released around that same time, too. Allen Iverson was still torching up the league with the corn rows sporting the Philly Sixers gear. How time flies eh?
There were games before NBA 2K that gave EA a run for their money such as Kobe Bryant’s Courtside, NBA Shootout, and NBA In the Zone. Those series did not last long because they didn’t strive to improve the game unlike EA’s Live. I’m pretty sure they didn’t get to improve due to lack of support from the company. Nonetheless, 2K came around and changed everything. Here are the problems that plagued Live ever since 2K came out.
Graphics – Live was holding it down for awhile, but take one look at 2K’s graphics engine evolving and then we notice that EA has some catching up to do. I can’t describe it. They just look better right down to the facial expressions. Even the faces themselves on the models are closer to their real life counterparts.
Animation – 2K’s animation moves a lot more realistic than Live’s disjointed action figures. Most players dribble the rock in a similar fashion in Live. This is still noticeable.
Despite those two things distracting the gamers, those things do no destroy the game. The decade long dominance of NBA 2K really put Live in the backseat. That type of dominance somewhat destroyed Live’s significance, but I’ll address the true problem of EA’s flagship basketball series. This is the one thing that turned off former fans.
Gameplay – The game feels too “arcade.” This is supposed to be simulation basketball. I didn’t pay to play NBA Jam. If I wanted that, I can just play it on my MAME emulator. Electronic Arts did not fix this “arcade” feel for years. This became ingrained with the series. This is their major downfall right here. I remember playing Live 2004. They had a nice soundtrack, but the game itself was freakishly NBA Hangtime.
In retrospect, competition is a great thing between the two series since we get to observe differences. Think about it; if the NBA ever gave this up just like how the NFL let Electronic Arts rape the football license then that means we are in huge trouble. Madden is just a bunch of roster updates. That’s pretty much it. Live could have been that way, too. Here is the good news: NBA Live is somewhat back. They’re almost on par with 2K. Give them another year or two and they’ll eventually over take them. The gap between the two series is closing. That’s a great thing. NBA 2K10 has more problems compared to their past games from frame rate issues, My Player problems, and “in the paint” battles are too easy. Kudos to the EA crew who worked on Live 10 because based on Metacritic’s overall review, Live is getting an 80 while 2K10 is averaging an 83.