Michael Leparc On November 25, 2013 at 12:14 pm

NBA Live 14 Damian_08_a1080“A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.” These are the words of the Nintendo great, Shigeru Miyamoto, but NBA Live 14 really challenges the truth of that argument. The franchise has been through three years of drama as EA Sports has struggled to put something out in the basketball sim space, their remake of Midway’s NBA Jam in the meantime notwithstanding. Eventually they decided to hold this one out until the next generation, but unless they’ve been rushing to get it out in November after all this time to get their act together, it’s safe to say that NBA Live 14 is a delayed game that is forever bad.

And why is that? Well it’s fairly obvious from the first tip off you play while the game installs to your PS4. Immediately you’re sucked into gameplay that is molasses slow, awkwardly animated, and with little explanation in the way of how to play it. The basic offensive controls are simple enough once you learn the buttons, but the results are never quite what you expect. I found the only consistent way to score was to drive to the hoop and hold down the shoot button for dear life, lest your player inexcusably decides to let up and fake a shot instead. This either leads to an easy bucket, a shooting foul, or a charging foul, all of which seem to happen by a combination of random chance and accounting for whether the player is someone of the caliber of Lebron James or not. Sure, you can attempt jumpers from a distance, and maybe even a three pointer, but you’re not going to get a lot of looks because the rest of your teammates stand around like statues, stubbornly refusing to get open. Okay, to get some movement on the court you can tap the d-pad to run specific plays like screens or cuts, but they don’t always execute properly and when they do the results are mixed. Still at least it gets players moving which increases the odds of something interesting happening. I’m not a hardcore basketball sim player but I’ve played enough of the competition to know that something is just off with this one. It just plays way too slow and funnels your play to the key way too much for my taste.

On the other side of the ball, the controls are just way too clunky, making it far too easy to get out of position after switching to a player, opening up a lane for your matchup to run right by. The result is you’ll probably want to stand pat as point guard and leave the AI to handle the rest, which is a crapshoot because sometimes the default tactics call for double teaming one guy and leaving someone wide open for three pointers in the corner. Good luck adjusting your D though as you have to dig through several menus to tell your team how to guard every individual on the opposition. Maybe I’m just playing the game wrong, but I wouldn’t know as there’s no real tutorial breaking things down and even on Rookie it doesn’t really simplify things by doing them automatically for you. I still end up winning games (usually by pulling off a big run in the second half for whatever reason), but they look nothing like real basketball to my eyes. NBA Live 14 comes with multiplayer, franchise modes, be a player mode, and even a mode that updates throughout the season that lets you attempt reenactments of huge plays, but why even bother if the core game is not enjoyable?

All of this might be a little bit forgiven if the game at least looked great, but honestly it looks like an upscaled last gen game at best, and can’t compete at all with the visuals pulled off in NBA 2K14. Players look stiff and have a dull glow about them. I will give credit to the fact that they do have realistic proportions unlike their Madden counterparts and most players are instantly recognizable, even if some of their features like their hair look a bit flat. What really turns me off are the ugly cheerleaders they put in this thing, who look like they were plucked out of a PS2 version and pasted in. This and other flaws make the presentation feel a bit chintzy. The half time and post game shows are supposed to give more of that licensed ESPN feel to the affairs , but they really drag on and are repetitive. The same goes for the commentary, where to my dismay even after only about 3 games I started hearing certain lines again and again.

I hate to kick a franchise while it’s down, but when you’ve got a far superior game on the market in both gameplay AND eye candy, it’s hard to recommend NBA Live 14 right now. It’s one thing if they were trying to reinvent the game or focus on a different element of the sport, but EA Sports is trying for much the same thing as 2K and falling short here. Maybe all that time off has just left them rusty. I wouldn’t want them to give up here as we could always use some competition to keep 2K honest, but this is getting marked down as an incomplete game.


Clunky, slow, and predictable. There may be more to it under the surface, but it’s tough to scratch though.


Feels last gen, and the replays look even worse. Doesn’t even run that smooth.


The commentary gets stale way too fast. Can’t imagine a full season of this.


This franchise needs more work, period.

Comments are closed.