1505 days and two cancelled games stand between EA Sports’ release of NBA Live 10, and the next game in the series. NBA Live 14 is supposed to be EA Sports’ triumphant return to the court after three years of absence, two of which were results of games being cancelled only days before their respective scheduled release dates. Is NBA Live 14 the game that can start off the next generation of consoles for EA Sports and bring a worthy rival to 2K Sports’ dominant NBA 2K series?
In a word, no. NBA Live 14 shipped, and that is a huge step in this series. It falls well short of its direct competitor, NBA 2K14, and is easily the worst EA Sports release on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It has also been the most widely scrutinized full retail game of the new console generation.
NBA Live 14 has all of the modes you would expect from a traditional EA Sports title. Tip Off is your classic exhibition mode. Head To Head is online play. This covers the traditional one-off games, as well as Seasons, in which you play 10-game seasons, and depending on your record, can move up the ranks.
The newest addition to online is the Best-Of-Seven mode. This allows players to match up with a friend and play, you guessed it, a best-of-seven game series. I haven’t been able to test Best-Of-Seven because the in-game friends list doesn’t seem to show players online for us, even when the normal PS4 friends list shows them playing.
NBA Live 14 also ships with the standard single player career mode named Rising Star. Player creation and customization in this mode is rather limited. As an example, when selecting a player head, there are only 20 options in total, covering the range of all skin colors. The lack of options makes it very hard for players to make a real individual. Oddly enough, that there are a multitude of tattoo options but the customization options that matter most are lacking.
Playing single player highlights the core issue of the long-awaited game – the weak off-the-ball gameplay. While on defense, players will notice that when guarding an opponent, the character on screen won’t move for 5-7 seconds. If the guarded character happens to have the ball, there is a good chance he’ll stand with you at the top of the key and just dribble. Putting some time into the Rising Star mode – which is as basic as it gets for an organized string of matches – it becomes quickly evident that the AI is partially broken. The weaker visuals compared to its sports game rivals only adds another layer to the disappointment
There is also Dynasty mode, where players become the General Manager of an NBA team. Again, this is a very minimal mode. You can change staff, manage the team roster, and develop players. That’s about it. There’s no ability to do things like move your team, or play with other players in an online dynasty.
Gameplay aside, another core problem with NBA Live 14 is that essentially every mode is the bare minimum you would expect from an EA Sports title. Even the Ultimate Team mode is a weak impersonation of the versions that appear in their other titles. Not having an auction block almost makes this mode a non-starter. The only way to build a team up is to grind out games with your lower skilled starter team to earn enough coins to buy packs. That is, unless you want to spend real money via out-of-place and unearned microtransactions.
The only mode that seems to be fleshed out is the BIG Moments challenges. Here you are able to play key moments of recent real life games and compete with friends on leaderboards. These can be anything from trying to match a team’s point total for a certain amount of time, to making three 3pt shots in 90 seconds, to repeating that last second buzzer beater from the other night. Challenges are updated daily keeping the mode fresh.
At some point EA Sports had to release a basketball game. That is exactly what they did. It’s not the best, and it can barely be considered good. In fact, it’s not good. NBA Live 14 producer Sean O’Brien posted an apology of sorts only four days after the games release where he promises a lot of changes to this year’s game, from animation and graphic upgrades to helping players more easily understand the gameplay controls. In a world where NBA 2K14 exists, this game cannot be recommended until these promises are followed up on.
Like EA’s Battlefield 4, NBA Live 14 is a major disappointment and is lacking in its features and quality.
NBA Live 14 is currently available for PS4 and Xbox One. Game Rant reviewed the PS4 version.