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Review

NBA Live 14 Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • PS4

Technical foul.

Basketball is a sport built around the beauty of raw athleticism. Five players glide across the court as one, shifting positions to ensure the best spacing possible against the disruptive mass of opponents trying to stifle their progress. When properly orchestrated, it's a sight to behold. Power infused with creativity, grace and tactics holding hands, concluding in a dramatic showcase with seemingly endless possibilities. NBA Live 14 understands the essentials, the passing and shooting that are the dominant verbs of the sport. But it fails to replicate the artistry of the game, the brilliance that draws us to professional competition or the joy that beckons us to the local gym. Because the sloppy action of NBA Live 14 never coalesces into a satisfying whole, this is just a pale echo of the real thing, basketball in name only.

Problems are obvious from the opening tip-off. The players you have gone hoarse rooting for, who have worn silly suits to the NBA Draft and mistakenly hired Jay-Z to be their agent, are nowhere to be found. Rather, there are manufactured approximations, mannequins who have been given one night to step down from their plastic pedestals to play basketball. Their movements are stiff and unnatural, their feet hovering slightly above the court, never gaining proper traction. It's unnerving to see LeBron James soar toward the basket. You see his face screaming in anger and his arms twisting at odd angles. And the ball leaves his palm before he even completes his shooting motion. This is the man who drew the ire of an entire Midwestern city and swore to the league that he would win seven championships?

Why is everyone standing around?

NBA Live is an eyesore. It's a vestige of an ugly past that we thought had been banished to the ether, but it's not because of its looks that it's so unsatisfying. Rather, it's how the inhuman animations and inconsistent physics affect the action that relegates NBA Live to the development league. Players hoist ugly shots no matter where they stand on the floor, unperturbed by the defender standing nearby who happily swats a souvenir to a lucky member of the crowd. If you replay that shot, which is going to make every highlight reel, you may notice something peculiar: the defender's hand doesn't have to touch the ball. Point guards deliver awkward passes to cutting players, giving you as much chance of completing a pass in traffic as Dwight Howard has for making a foul shot. And don't worry about boxing out. Rebounds ricochet wildly off rims, so just hope the ball falls in your hands.

It's unnerving to see LeBron James soar toward the basket. You see his face screaming in anger and his arms twisting at odd angles. And the ball leaves his palm before he even completes his shooting motion.

Creeping uncertainty makes running a proper offense deflating. Set up a pick-and-roll with David West and Paul George to watch the two men, along with their two defenders, stick together as if coated by glue. If West should break free of the morass, he adjusts his position after receiving the pass, turning a sure 12-footer into a 20-foot shot of desperation. If you ignore the pick-and-roll game, one of the most used plays in the NBA, and work the post, there are even more problems. Big men stumble like Shaq after an all-you-can-eat barbecue. Rolling smoothly toward the basket or flashing across the lane for a hook shot is so clunky that you're more likely to turn the ball over than score. So you need to become a brute. Slam repeatedly into the defender, and when he falls, hope that you gain the benefit of the whistle rather than chalk up another charge.

At least the post-game highlights are nicely done.

Inconsistencies infect the very logic of NBA Live 14. In Rising Star mode, you create a rookie, prove your worth in an amateur game, and then wait anxiously for a decent team to call your name on draft night. I was banished to Cleveland. There's nothing wrong with playing for the Cavaliers, but as a shooting guard, I knew that I would be riding the pine behind Dion Waiters, who was drafted last year. Turns out that NBA Live doesn't care one lick about reality. On opening night, I was already in the starting lineup, even though I had played like a dog in the one game before the regular season began. Sorry Dion! In my second game, my goal was to have a better grade than James Harden. With Kobe Bryant nursing a torn Achilles and Dwyane Wade perpetually ailing, Harden is the best shooting guard in the league. That Live wants me to be better than Harden in my second game shows just how poorly this approaches the real game.

Slam repeatedly into the defender, and when he falls, hope that you gain the benefit of the whistle rather than chalk up another charge.

How do you achieve a high grade? Play smart team basketball, of course. For instance, when I drained a wild half-court shot two minutes into the third quarter, my grade went up, because that's just fundamentally sound basketball. For the most part, the grading scale is much smarter than that half-court snafu would indicate. You're rewarded for throwing good passes and shutting down your opponent on the defensive end, but there are enough problems that you're never quite sure how you stack up. You may find yourself switching to a player you shouldn't be covering on the defensive end, or being praised for handing the ball to your center beyond the three-point arc. More troubling in Rising Star than the wacky grading scale is the AI. On the offensive end, Kyrie Irving would dribble the ball while everyone else on the team was rooted in place. And this would happen every time down the floor if I didn't run around or force him to throw a pass.

Venturing online only presents a whole new host of problems. There's slight lag that undermines just about any viable strategy. Just try to nail the timing of a jumper or stay in front of a driving point guard when your player reacts a beat after you hit the button. It's an exercise in failure. So the best strategy is just to drive hard to the basket on every single play. Every one. Your opponent may not realize the problems with the game. He or she may attempt to run an actual NBA offense. Well, that's not going to work. Watch your lead soar to double digits and beyond, and then your overmatched opponent is forced to hoist three-pointers in a desperate, and ill-advised, attempt to come back. My goal shifted from simply trying to win to getting my opponent to quit before halftime. Don't get me wrong; I don't take pride in exploiting a busted system. But when no other tactics worked, I had no choice but to dunk until my wrists grew tired.

What's wrong with that woman's neck!?

Despite the myriad issues on and off the court, NBA Live has fantastic integration with the events of the actual league. Just days after Jeff Green shocked the Heat by draining a desperation three-pointer, Live lets you re-create the high point of the Celtics' dismal season. As a Pacers fan, I embarked on challenges specifically built for them. I could replay the Grizzlies game from earlier in the season, and try to mimic the beatdown Indiana put on Memphis. Could I hold them below 79 points and get a triple double with Lance Stephenson? The answer is no, but it's incredible to be able to try.

Sadly, even re-creating events from the NBA season is just a tease because the act of playing is so far from what real basketball should be. The on-court action is so sloppy and unsatisfying that even rubbing defeat in Carmelo Anthony's face loses its appeal. NBA Live needs serious work in just about every aspect in order to raise its game to a respectable level.

The Good
Great integration with real NBA games
The Bad
Basic basketball strategies don't work
Lousy artificial intelligence, especially in Rising Star mode
Animations and physics are goofy and unpredictable
Logic problems in Rising Star mode
Lag hinders online play
4
Poor
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Tom's adoration of NBA basketball was almost killed by NBA Live 14. He spent a dozen hours in the various modes and had only one loss in six online matches.

Discussion

79 comments
pbog13
pbog13

This game is total crap - not even close to resembling a real basketball experience. MyCareer mode couldn't have been designed worse if someone tried. Terribly frustrating to do everything right and get punished for it, while being given impossible and stupid tasks - especially during the rookie year. Unforgiveable that there are only a few animations cycled so that you want to shoot yourself after a couple hours into the game. Every CPU opponent make almost every 3 pointer, while your moronic teammates can't play as good as 8 year olds. Absolutely horrible game!

Derugs
Derugs

The worst game in the history of worst games.  

EA's intent was purely money motivated.  

beardedaxe
beardedaxe

Live is the most nostalgic video game franchise for me. I have fond memories of obsessing over Live 98, 2000, and 2003. Wanted to like this game. Played it for many hours now, probably 16-20. It's sadly ... awful. You're not playing basketball, you're playing this game's interpretation of basketball which is SLOW, jittery, awkward and clunky. Everything about it is bad except the menus. lol. the animations make you get backcourt violations because you don't have full control  of your player. Wanted to keep venting here but I've overdone it as it is. $60 wasted.

MaddenBowler10
MaddenBowler10

4 is way too generous for this awful mess of a game.

kgallis21
kgallis21

EA should give this game away for free.......just god awful

warriors30
warriors30

EA Sports puts no love in their games. NBA Live 14 is a prime example for that! Most EA Sports games feel kind of "too clean" and like plastic to me...FIFA might be the exception.  Bad graphics is one thing (why do the players look like plastic figurines?) but besides some nice menus and TV-ish presentation the game(play) seems miles away compared to NBA 2K14...

There's literally no reason to buy this...unless EA puts some more work (and love) into this, as they promised.

thekey
thekey

Well maybe next year this game is awfull.

WayneL23
WayneL23

o_O NBA Elite next gen Port?

OHGFawx
OHGFawx

EA applies the same philosophy they use with Madden to basketball. Madden has no competition since EA bought the exclusive NFL rights, so they just churn out the same game every year with absolutely no reason to innovate at all. Those who remember NFL 2k remember that it was better than Madden, just like NBA 2k is better than Live. At this point, they just seem not to care about NBA Live anymore, just put it out, people will buy it anyway, who cares?

Emtje
Emtje

hahahha.....quote (ea site): "the gameplay exceeded my expectations"........i wonder in which direction it did exceed :D ..........and Why the hell would anyone buy that crap, when there is nab 2k14 out there.....a game can't be better.......

rotchild
rotchild

This would also happen to NHL if 2k could get back into making hockey games. The same goes to Madden. And if Konami haven't decided to change it's gameplay formula when PES made the jump from PS2 (PES 6) to the next generation (PES 2007), it would still be reigning over FIFA. Does anyone remember that EA Sports also tried (and failed miserably) at making Formula 1 games? Bottom line is that they only "excel" at sports games in which they don't have any competition.

D3dr0_0
D3dr0_0

Giving sports games the scores they deserve.

RoadStar1602
RoadStar1602

This looks like complete trash. It would have been fine if it had been released for the Playstation 2, but not the Playstation 4. This was clearly shoved out the door so that it could be a launch title for PS4 and Xbone. Why would EA further tarnish their already terrible reputation by releasing this shit? EA, fuck you once again.

slowion
slowion

I will never complain about another NBA 2K game again! Wow those animations are horrible.

NBA Live used to be such a good franchise too

SillySkeleton
SillySkeleton

Damn, I feel sorry for the people that don't do their homework and end up picking this up over NBA2K.

chipwithdip
chipwithdip

You got to respect Tom's ability to drive his point home. You don't see him apologizing, you don't see him second guessing, and he's very decisive. Questionable at times, but still pretty respectable.

kbmj2324
kbmj2324

EA sports suck... real talk

stillfailing
stillfailing

The demo is available on the ps4. Play it for yourselves. It is a fun game but really poorly animated. The actual graphics and textures look crisp and amazing though.

The gameplay is pretty bad and the controls are poor as well.

I think as always the reviewer hit the nail on the head from what little I've seen. I hope 2k14 is better.

Mind you I haven't seen a Nba game since the mid 1990s when the suns went to the championship.

tmorri603
tmorri603

This is why EA has the NFL exclusive deal. This can unload Madden every year and you have to buy it if you want pro football. With the NBA, you have a choice and Live will get left in the dust. With Live being absent for so long, I felt that EA would have made a better game than this. I think they should stop making NBA games. Pro basketball belongs to 2k and they would have pro football if it was not for that exclusive deal crap. 

ScreamDream
ScreamDream

Maybe EA can shut this game down for a couple years and do a reboot. Oh wait, they already did.

deathblow3
deathblow3

lol i guess now ea is going to buy the nba license so no one can make a superior basketball game. hey ea the 2000 engine you using aint working making better models doesnt work with old engine

thekey
thekey

The game been awful this is no different

ngboy
ngboy

said this when i saw the trailer and it's confirmed now by the many reviews, the player animations are not fluid at all. this game looks horrible.

KaSeRRoR
KaSeRRoR

How bad is this... To know where Live WAS and to where Live is NOW... Unreal awfulness displayed!


>=)

LordCrash88
LordCrash88

The only company that can outperform EA in misery is EA Sports......

First the BF4 bugfest, then the 30 FPS frame lock in Rivals, now this. It's like EA compeletely lost track in terms of customer relationship and game design..... :/

Thesuperstar2k
Thesuperstar2k

lol. Exactly as I thought that Live isn't going to be that good.

bf210
bf210

There is no excuse for a game to look this ugly on a next gen console. NBA 2K5 on PS2 looked better than this.

uklegendkiller
uklegendkiller

To be honest it should have stayed in a hiatus. The simple fact is NBA2K does the game of basketball so well, granted it's not perfect and could do with a few tweaks it self, but still it's the best representation of the game of basketball on the market. NAB2K is the only B/Ball sim I'll be looking at.

dogbert784
dogbert784

This game was clearly made for Xbox One. 

Touchdown65
Touchdown65

If only i had NFL2k back then i could die happy.  After i play it though.....

GSGuy321
GSGuy321

The score is to high if anything. Dreadful game !

PayneKiller
PayneKiller

Another 4 from Tom... come on you could have given this a 3!

C-THREE
C-THREE

looks like the 2k series still holds the crown. Can you imagine if ea could've had the NBA as a exclusive like they do the NFL?

tooitchy
tooitchy

@OHGFawx What are you talking about? NBA Live hasn't had a new title in 4 years, they dumped the franchise and only brought it back because of fan requests. NBA 2k has been the gold standard for many years, you expect EA to compete with their first dip back into the sport? Ridiculous, this game sucks, yes, but it isn't for lack of trying, they spent a lot of money on this game, they had to build it entirely from scratch due to no recent previous titles to build off of, how do you come to the conclusions that " they just seem not to care about NBA Live anymore, just put it out, people will buy it anyway, who cares?"?? If they didn't care, they wouldn't have spent 2 years and a ton of money trying to restart an old franchise?


I dislike EA as much as the next guy, I find their business practice to be abhorrent, and see them as lazy, and greedy, but this is not just a repackaged version of last years game, this is all new. They were never going to compete with 2k in their first year or two, but this games existence means they now have some experience, and can build off it, and learn from their mistakes in the years to come.


Also, NFL 2k was garbage compared to Madden, it's the cool thing to hate on Madden, because it's the only NFL game, and EA makes it, but they've made huge strides recently, and it's become a very good game. Same goes for their NHL titles, they are top notch, and NHL 2k was god awful to the point of embarrassment, as are the MLB 2k games. In fact, the only good sports franchise from 2k, is NBA 2k.

tsunami2311
tsunami2311

@rotchild I would love to see nhl 2k back , ea "its in the game" slogging lost meaning to mean years back

Emtje
Emtje

@rotchild and grand slam....although i personally didn't play the game

tooitchy
tooitchy

@RoadStar1602 This was built from the ground up, they spent 2 years on it (it was supposed to be NBA Live 13), they resurrected a dead franchise because fans requested it, obviously it wasn't gonna be good right off the bat, NBA 2k has been going steadily for years, they've had time to learn and figure out what to do and what not to do, EA hasn't had that luxury. This game may suck, but giving 2k some competition is a good thing.

sulidos
sulidos

@Touchdown65 When does that exclusive deal between EA and the NFL end again? I Still play my copy of NFL 2K5 every football season but I dont think the disc is gonna last much longer............

sknight175216
sknight175216

Whoa, what?? NFL 2K was what? Nah son, you trippin'. Why do you think Madden bought the exclusivity license? Because they felt comfortable about their game? No because 2K made a better football game and it was cheaper. Madden had better character models maybe, but the simulation aspect was miles ahead in 2K games. Madden 05 was good as well, but 2K was just as good if not better in most people's opinion. Nobody hates Madden for being Madden. We hate Madden for basically monopolizing the football game market out of fear. So frankly I'm glad 2K continues to wipe the floor with them in basketball. EA needs to stick to futbol and baseball.

sulidos
sulidos

@tooitchy @OHGFawx Dude NFL 2k5 was hands down the the best football game ever. People are still playing it updating the rosters and everything to this day. No one has ever done that for ANY Madden game. It's not provable of course but after 2K5 and Madden went head to head in 2004 and Madden lost badly EA knew they had to do something to keep Madden relevant and since they could not make a game half as good as 2K sports they choose to throw Millions at the NFL for the exclusive rights to NFL games. If you can't beat him just buy em out I guess and now we've been stuck with the same Madden over and over again for years while the best sports game developers have perfected basketball sims to a shine. I cant wait for the day when 2K can make another NFL and I will no longer be forced to support EA just to throw passes with a digital Drew Brees

LilRoss2k3
LilRoss2k3

@tooitchy @OHGFawx the first sentence of your last paragraph makes everything you've written before it look like the ramblings of a senile lunatic.

tooitchy
tooitchy

@tsunami2311 @rotchild NHL 2k was a terrible franchise, they were some of the worst hockey games I've ever played, you're trippin if you think that lazy arcade BS made a good hockey game. NHL 2k is fantastic, and as realistic as a hockey game has come, it actually treats the act of skating as a physical activity, wearing players out, as well as treating momentum as a legitimate factor, meaning the players don't go from a stand still to full breakaway speed instantly, as well as making the act of stopping more realistic because you don't stop instantly when skating, thanks to momentum/inertia.

deathblow3
deathblow3

@tooitchy @deathblow3 lol do you? because i know when they put pretty over old crap just like the do every year with madden heck they still using the original code wih madden & got sued for it.

NBA Live 14 More Info

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  • First Released
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    NBA Live 14 marks the return of the EA's basketball franchise after a few year hiatus, launching for both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4.
    3.8
    Average User RatingOut of 38 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate NBA Live 14
    Developed by:
    EA Sports
    Published by:
    Electronic Arts
    Genres:
    Team-Based, Sports, Basketball, Arcade
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms
    No Descriptors