NBA Live 15 Preview – Back to the Hardcourt

NBA Live 14 fell short in many areas including graphics, gameplay, lack of tutorials to help get you into the game, and a mediocre entry into a Create-a-Superstar mode with lackluster customizations that offers little to get a player to feel invested into that character. It’s not hard to pile on when referring to Live ’14, but for all of its flaws, the development team sees ’14 as a stepping stone to the greatness that once was NBA Live. Executive Producer Sean O’Brien himself stated just that and wants to build the franchise back to being as good as — or even better than —  the other behemoth NBA game on the market. He knows that the NBA Live series is at a major crossroads and needs to take a step in the right direction.

The first thing I noticed with NBA Live 15 was the improved overall graphics. At launch, ’14 was a little rough and didn’t have that next gen look, and even with the patches and updates through the year, was still lacking in the end. ’15 takes a step in the right direction as it looks pretty damn good on the PS4; with facial animations that look as true to life as any other title on the market. EA has scanned many of the faces of NBA players and will continue to do so throughout the year, but what impressed me most was the faces actually coming to life, with emotions showing on their faces and through their eyes. Scroll through the following images to see for yourself.


Player animations, along with collisions, driving to the hoop, signature moves, dunking , blocking said dunks, etc. have been updated, and with a cool pick-and-roll play that you can call for, driving to the hoop has become more intuitive. A nice double-step or zig-zag through the lane will have your point guard set up for an easy lay-up, or maybe he can feed that ball to the center for a monster dunk. Calling for an alley-oop takes a simple button press, and then timing your big man’s approach to the net and then lobbing the rock at the right time. Playing through the tutorial showed me how to do this and more, and I’ll go more in depth into them once we get our review copy in the next couple of weeks.

After playing through the tutorials, NBA Live ’15 Gameplay Producer Connor Dougan and I sat down and started up a scrimmage. No score, so I wouldn’t look bad to start off, but it didn’t take long before I figured out how to drive through traffic and get to the hoop. Passing to an open man, and around the arc, started to become second nature, and hitting a three from the corner by faking a drive to the hoop turned out to be a helpful maneuver on offense. I found it rather amusing to see a player who barely got brushed on the arm after a jumper do a full-on, Oscar worthy performance trying to draw the foul, but apparently the ref saw through his act and didn’t give him the whistle. There is a rule against flopping, and maybe he should have been called for it, but there was a little contact after the shot, so I guess the ref gave him a little leeway.

Making jumpers and threes are a little easier to pull off in ’15 with the addition of shot feedback and watching the players circle-meter on the court under their feet. The number of green bars versus red bars lets you know if the guy can pull off a shot from where he’s standing, and knowing you were a little late, early, or perfect on your release will help you get that timing down when making those shots in the future.

Eventually the competition started getting even and Connor was ready to start keeping score. Charlotte at Cleveland, with me being the home team, was our match-up and it went neck-and-neck, with me taking a slight lead after the first quater. He took the lead back at the half by a couple, but the third quarter had me staying right there and we were in a dead heat going into the final quarter. We both were putting up some good defense, with some timely blocks on what would have been easy dunks in ’14, but are now stoppable in ’15 with a properly timed block. In the fourth, neither one of us could break-away with any type of a sizable lead and it came down to whoever had the last possession would probably win.I tried to run the clock down before tying it with a few seconds left, but Connor drove the length of the court and went for the shot as time expired. He missed the buzzer beater by just a little and we went into OT.

Almost all of our players were fatigued after four quarters of well played basketball, with sweat and fatigue showing on their faces, but Kevin Love for the Cavs only had a few minutes of playing time and was well rested. Lebron became a spectator as Love took control of the boards, and anytime one of his players missed, Love was there to grab that rock and send it through the hoop with authority. I don’t think Connor realized how well rested Love was until his team was down by double digits. I think Connor got a bucket or two in OT, but it really was the Kevin Love show for most of it as he ended up with 16 points overall, with most of them coming in OT. The final score had me winning by 10 points in what was a well played game on both sides of the court, at least until the fourth quarter buzzer sounded.

From what I’ve seen and played so far, the NBA Live series is well on its way to giving fans and gamers alike something they’ll be able to play and actually enjoy.

Just don’t make Lebron mad. He looks very mean when angered.