I try to be an optimist when it comes to gaming. I like most games. Most are fine and the overwhelming negativity is a bother for me. Now, I have to be honest, this is not going to be all that upbeat. Because, today, I am reviewing NBA Live 14 for the XBox One.
Now, I did like the original Live series. I even, admittedly barely, preferred NBA Live 10 over 2K10. But, then EA decided to reboot the series, release a demo that highlighted the numerous issues with their new title Elite, a title so broken that EA cancelled it after shipping to stores (I actually respected the move because EA spent all of the money and got less than none back). A few Elite 11 hit the marketplace for the PS3 (I've never heard of a 360 version on the market, but I don't check that frequently). They are crazy expensive for a game that simply doesn't work too well. Heck, go ahead and YouTube footage of Elite 11 and you'll be shown the assorted bugs.
After a second cancellation of Elite in 2012, then a decision to bring back Live and cancel that in 2013, EA releases their first next-gen NBA title with NBA Live 14. And, to be honest, I'm not really sure what they were looking for.
It is difficult to discuss the game without simply cataloging problems. For starters, shooting is not intuitive and since you get no feedback about what you're doing wrong, it is hard to correct. Free throws are even harder because the "apex of the shooting motion" for free throws varies wildly by player. Figuring out everybody's perfect release point if you have no idea if you're doing it early or late is a needess hassle. Rebounding is equally difficult. After several games of being outrebounded, I simply set up my opponent to have nobody over the height of 6'1 while I gave myself a team of all-stars with great centers and PF...and I STILL got outrebounded. The computer AI is able to box out brilliantly and your teammate AI will not permit them to jump or otherwise pursue a missed shot.
Animation is a bit off as animation takes precedence over movement. I get the desire to make the game more realistic and all, but there is a noticeable delay when you input a move and when your avatar does it. The computer doesn't seem to have these issues, but it tends to be wildly inaccurate...right until when it is not inaccurate and becomes deadly accurate. It is like they flick a switch and they're on.
The Rising Star mode is their version of 2K's My Player mode. I dislike both of them. The forced perspective on the court is irritating and it seems to move slowly. Also, if you have to face off with a three point specialist, they are able to shoot from the corner you simply cannot see and, therefore, cannot defend terribly well. And since you're penalized for your opponent scoring, it becomes a nuisance.
Online is no thrill either. Online tournaments are broken , online head-to-head games are plagued with quitters (and the quitter gets a DNF percentage, but it didn't impact W-L, which is a curious oversight). I played online after 11P Eastern and the game ran at half-speed (never got any better than that, either) the whole game from start to finish. The speed makes shooting a crap shoot since there are huge delays due to the lag. I don't lag in other games, so the problems here were disappointing. Heck, even Achievements don't work properly. Several seem impossible to unlock even if you hit the requirements (such as one where you get it if everybody on your team scores in a game. I had everybody score 10 and didn't unlock).
The high point -- and it really is a good thing and one I hope they work on --- is the League Rewind and Big Moment mode. You can play games ala the regular season, or simply engage in certain moments. Can you hit the buzzer beater that Dunleavy Jr hit in Milwaukee? You have a shot at that. Drop 8 3's like Joe Johnson did for the Nets? You can try that also. It provides a great distraction and you can delve NBA history for years and do a lot of these. It also encourages you to try teams and players you might not have otherwise to pursue these.
But I cannot recommend this game to anybody. It is not in the same league as 2K14 is right now. It is broken in fundamental ways. They might be able to fix the problems they have, but EA's track record of doing so is less than stellar. I wish them well because Live has been a decent, but not at the level of 2K title for several years now. I want competition here and continue to hope EA can bring it.