NBA LIVE 18
Don’t call it a comeback, kid
What do you mean, you haven’t been following the fortunes of EA and 2K’s rival basketball franchises for the last decade? Well, here’s the CliffNotes: NBA Live was once the king of basketball games, then NBA 2K surpassed it so comprehensively that EA didn’t even bother putting a Live title out for a few years. So to say NBA Live is now truly back in the fight – well, that’s a big deal.
In some ways this is a markedly better game than NBA 2K18 (p82). Microtransactions don’t lurk around every corner like they do in 2K’s game, 1 while The One mode gives you control of a young player’s career2 in both the NBA and streetball tournaments, with smart design calls veering from NBA 2K’s My Career mode. Example: if you don’t get drafted to a team you want to play for at the start, your agent will just give you the option to pick from the other 29 teams – a godsend. Streetball offers a nice diversion from pro play too, although it would have been nice to see more distinction between the two styles in the way they’re played. More ankle breakers and Harlem Globetrotter play on the tarmac, essentially.
It’s also a lot easier to control. EA Tiburon offers an easier way to perform double moves with the right stick at the expense of precise control, while jumpshot timing is extremely forgiving. However, it’s still not quite there in its animations, which feel a bit stiff when you’re in control and don’t look convincing in other players. Still, if you want a break from 2K’s grind and high skill demands, this is a viable option. And next year – who knows who’ll rule the court? Phil Iwaniuk
FOOTNOTES1 In fact, no attribute upgrades can be bought with real cash, which is refreshing. 2 He’s referred to in cutscenes as the ‘Comeback Kid.’ Don’t get cocky, EA.