The video game basketball market has been dominated by 2K Games for the last several years with EA Games being out of the picture. Even with the return of EA’s NBA Live franchise in 2013, it was obvious the development team needed to do some adjusting.
After taking a year off, EA is bringing back their NBA Live franchise with the upcoming title NBA Live 18. The game is scheduled to release in September and a demo was released earlier this week to let players try it out. Is EA's comeback kid ready for primetime?
To put it shortly, no, NBA Live 18 doesn't seem like it is going to give 2K a threat this year. Facial scans of some star players, like Durant, players don't look exactly right.
The controls are much improved from last time. Shooting the ball feels slightly better and the new shot meter is a welcome addition. Defending ball handlers felt good enough to where it is fair when the player gets crossed.
However, it is easy to feel like your player is too slow at times. Sometimes bigger players would out-run you or lateral movement during defense is ineffective.
Cool animations and court environments were a huge plus. Venice Beach and Rucker Park felt alive with the crowds cheering but they don't reach to the ball because they are just background.
Presentation is really good in the demo with "First Take's" Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman commentating on the protagonists' whereabouts. The introduction cinematics of each court were also phenomenal as it gives players a sense of hype when playing in these arenas.
NBA Live 18 does not seem ready in this demo version, plain and simple but counting EA out of the basketball market can be a mistake.
With their aggressive marketing and getting content creators like Chris Smoove to get involved with their game, it is expected that EA's NBA Live franchise will come back to its former glory sometime soon.
Hopefully all of its kinks will be fixed before the final version releases on September 15, 2017, for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. A PC release has not been announced.