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NBA Live 14 Review

Replay Value:
Online Gameplay:
Overall Rating:
EA Sports
EA Tiburon
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
November 19, 2013

Maybe the franchise should’ve remained dormant. For many years, NBA Live was synonymous with video game basketball, even to the level that Madden was associated with interactive football. But the quality of the series began to tail off and at about the same time, 2K Sports came in with the extremely well-received NBA 2K franchise. Then, EA opted to temporarily retire Live while 2K’s series continued to excel on all fronts. NBA 2K14 was another fantastic addition…and NBA Live 14 does not hold up well in comparison.

You sense something is critically wrong right from the outset. The player models are beyond mediocre; in many instances, they’re downright creepy. They all appear to be stiff, lifeless, plastic versions of their real-life counterparts, and their animations are borderline comical. Collision detection is all over the place and the sloppy physics result in even crazier visual screw-ups. Despite a few flashy background effects to enhance the overall ambiance of the arena, the general graphical design is mediocre at best. At no point are we seeing a realistic virtual incarnation of basketball; rather, we’re watching a disappointing relic of the past.

The audio isn’t much better, as the uninspired and often erratic commentary does little to bolster the experience, and the soundtrack is generic at best. The on-court sound isn’t necessarily terrible but the balancing is off, and one gets the distinct impression that EA Tiburon didn’t put a lot of effort into this category. As apparently is the case with the rest of the production, the designers inexplicably ignored the power of the new consoles. There’s no other explanation for this poor technical performance, is there? The music isn’t bad – if you like that sort of thing – and a few of the background effects are okay but aside from that, the sound presentation is just plain lackluster.

When you combine seriously subpar graphics and sound in what’s supposed to be a simulator, you’re off to a really bad start. The game is specifically created to accurately reproduce a real-life sport, so if it doesn’t look like that sport, and it doesn’t sound like that sport, the gameplay better be pretty damn special. Unfortunately, there’s nothing special about NBA Live 14 . The jerky, even ridiculous movement of the players, the outdated and unreliable physics, and the severely unbalanced offense makes this game an exercise in frustration. There doesn’t appear to be any way to properly execute a well-designed play, which will give game managers fits.