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March 2, 2014 • Gaming, Reviews

NBA Live 14 on PlayStation 4 Review

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NBA Live 14 brings the basketball game series back to the court with impressive graphics, detailed player controls, and familiar EA Sports enhancements. Players get a wide range of experiences ranging from the extensive Dynasty levels to the special buzzbeater Moments (one is five seconds long).

NBA Live 14 marks the first series installment since 2009’s NBA Live 10 for consoles (NBA Elite II released in 2010 on mobile). All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) graces the cover this year for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions.

The Hype

Next Definition Visuals – Combined with 4x the texture resolution, high-fidelity animations and next-generation lighting NBA Live 14 will showcase every detail of all your favorite NBA players, uniforms and arenas to reveal stunning detail. Every wrinkle, every facial expression, and every drop of sweat will make you feel like you’re courtside.

Bouncetek Technology – The dribble is fundamental to basketball, but it’s also the unique signature of every NBA star. Whether it’s Rubio’s wrap around or Irving’s devastating hesitation dribble, creativity is at the core of every move. BounceTek unlocks the full potential of the dribble by releasing the ball to physics, allowing for truly organic control and authentic responsiveness. With NBA Live 14, one-on-one matchups take on a whole new meaning and finally allow for creativity and self-expression. NBA Live 14 puts the control back in your hands.

CourtQ – CourtQ (Court Quotient) is the brain of NBA Live 14. Over 70 unique stats and tendencies power every single player on the court utilizing the same data all 30 NBA teams use. NBA players evolve throughout the season, and so does CourtQ downloading updates from every NBA game within 1-hr of the final buzzer. If Victor Oladipo gets hot in the NBA, he’ll be hot in NBA Live 14.

Daily Updates – With fresh content and challenges updated on a daily basis, NBA Live 14 delivers a new experience each and every time you pick up the controller, delivering the pulse of the NBA 24/7/365.

The Reality

Developed by EA Tiburon and published by Electronic Arts, NBA Live 14 bounces on the next generation consoles after an overall three-year absence (NBA Elite 11 on mobile)…and four-year time out from consoles (NBA Live 10). It’s a step in the right direction.

The following game modes dish up great variety: single player, multiplayer, Rising Star, Road to the Playoffs, Slam Dunk Challenge, and Ultimate Team. Staying connected means being well-connected so ensure that Internet connect is tip-top for these updates as well as online play against a worldwide cache of players.

The CourtQ player performance connection to real players truly impresses, so players will want to stay connected to the NBA updates. The CourtQ features mirrors the real NBA for additional interest, which is easily achieved in-game thanks to constant real-time updates and statistics. Real players currently on a hot streak will reflect that performance in this game.

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The menu, statistics and overall presentation fits well. Just remember not to get too excited in the menus, especially when hitting the x button which cancels beginning actions. Players get great customization options in player creation and dynasty team.

The customization works well except for a few issues. For example, playing as an all-star/mix team, my Ultimate Team (a great fantasy style experience) was expressed in text as LUT not ULT plus the announcers still refereed to my team as individual NBA teams. The Ultimate team play includes online head-to-head games and special showdowns where players can earn coins to purchase player and other object packs.

In NBA Rewind players can replay an entire season while the great Big Moments (located on the menu bottom strip) offers even more replay variety ranging from a five-second buzzer beater to an extended clutch game experience usually focusing on one key player.

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Online play blends well with social media options through the EA SPORTS Hoops Net(work). Start a game with available friends or try competing worldwide against others. There is always an opportunity for challenges or solidifying playing/teambuildling skills.

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The most noticeable upgrade is naturally the visuals that impress and enhance the NBA simulation gameplay, which heightens all the action – good and bad. Players can really see if the moves they make really get penetration through defenses. In the beginning, you just try things out and watch the outcome. Minor glitches and sudden shifts are also there, but are largely minimal.

Individual actions stress button combinations instead of one motion. Gone are the days of darting the direction button towards the basket and hitting your boost button. The rhythm-based BounceTek dribble combines with gathers, drives, and special moves, which can all combine into great scores instead of just pressing one button and the left stick towards the basket. Strategy plays a bigger part here, so players must know the controls inside and out to fully succeed.

The movements still feel natural and incorporate the “gather” action much more, so players need to strategize their short-term moves as well as their overall game strategy (defense, substitutions, coaching options, etc.).

Other enhancements include the halftime show, the best-of-seven Friends Finals series, improved fan animation, and commentary/analysis by Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Jalen Rose. The sound is excellent and the customizable music soundtrack from MICK includes 32 songs from artists like Big Sean, Diplo, Kat Dahlia, Kid Ink, Lorde, and Vic Mensa.

Also available on Xbox One.

MSRP: $49.99 (Best Buy, Amazon and other stores)

What I Like: Great integration with real NBA games, impressive visuals, strategic additions to player movements, pick-and-roll mechanic, CourtQ tie-in to real NBA activities, ESPN presentation, 5-on-5 controls, Big Moments and the Ultimate Team modes

What Needs Improvement: CPU players, occasionally online play lag, Rising Star mode, physical movement glitches, graphics details/customization

Source: Reviewer copy provided by publisher

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