Well, gamers, October is almost over, and a lot of games have come and gone. As always, though, there were many surprise hits that flew under the radar. Yet for sports fans, October isn’t over yet. EA’s highly anticipated NBA Live 15 for Xbox One and Playstation 4 drops this Tuesday and will either prove to be a great addition for the NBA Live series or will crash and burn with a disappointing review and a lackluster game.
Last year, NBA Live 14 didn’t exactly impress anyone. To be quite frank, the game was just disgraceful, and that’s coming from a person who has played every NBA Live game since the mid to ’90s. But 2014 is a new year, and it seems like EA has a new attitude and some new fire under its behind that actually makes me think NBA Live 15 will begin to compete with the likes of NBA 2K. With all that said, the big question is this: which basketball game will reign supreme this October?
NBA2K15 vs. NBA Live 15: My Thoughts
Gameplay, presentation, online features, graphics, and the overall fun factor will decide which game comes out on top. Last year, NBA 2K14 was undoubtedly the most significant game to demonstrate what the new generation of console hardware can do. With respect to gameplay and presentation, 2K sports hit the nail on the head this year.
With 2K15, the studio kept the same formula and built upon that foundation through using a new engine for the PS4 and Xbox One. With loads of new animations, a deeper and more enjoyable MyCareer, the new and improved MyPark and the Jordan Rec. Center, 2K15 shows that the developers are listening to their fans. Presentation-wise, the courts look amazing with the lighting attractively toned down. 2K Sports also stepped up its Pre-Game and Halftime shows, which feature Shaq and Ernie Johnson. Gameplay is hit or a miss in some instances, but overall it’s a huge leap from last year, especially in terms of the offensive A.I. When I played MyCareer in older games in the series, it felt like my teammates were dumbed down and overly-dependent on me as the player, but this year teamwork actually matters, which is quite refreshing.
Now with NBA Live 15, the presentation is so detailed that gamers see the players taking off warm ups, going in and out of games, and coming out during the name announcements. Graphically, EA’s NBA Live team took the time to face scan 80 to 90 percent of the league, which has made a huge difference in the character models. There are some misses, like Russel Westbrook, but overall character models are much improved from last year and while still not comparable to 2K, the strides are noted. For NBA Live 15, the animations have improved but for the most part still seem stiff, and A.I. defense is horrible. One upside is that the dribbling mechanic from last year has become a lot smoother, but when you go from dribbling to stepping back to jump, it still feels sluggish yet is clearly better then 2K14’s dribbling. Also noteworthy this year, EA included two modes with major added features: Ultimate Team and Rising Star Challenge.
NBA 2K’s Short Comings
To be perfectly honest, 2K shines in all categories except for one: god-awful servers. For online ballers, 2K has had horrible servers since the beginning, which was during the Dreamcast era. NBA Live was once the king of basketball games, but its arcade-ish gameplay gave 2K a chance to put its foot in the door and bring back simulation elements that were much needed in the genre. With that being said, EA has always had stellar online play, something that may hurt 2K’s success in the long run and give NBA Live a leg up on the competition.
Weeks before the game dropped, Ronnie2K and LD2k along with Mike Wang talked about the new servers that 2K Sports was using this year, which gave me hope that 2K finally got it together. With all the money 2K Sports has earned with the franchise over the years, I just don’t get why they run into the same issues over and over when it comes to online play. Instead of online play improving, it’s gotten worse year after year. Why make the game 70 percent online for most modes when you have such serious server issues?
NBA 2K15 dropped early this month with a lukewarm reception because of the server issues that are still plaguing the overall game. For almost two weeks, 2K15 was down online and was unplayable for the many gamers who only play online modes. Modes like the new and improved MyPark and Jordan Rec. Center didn’t seem to start games even when a player was standing on the “Got Next” spot. Also, the new MyTeam Auction house wasn’t functioning properly and buying cards from packs wasn’t working because of the server issues. The 2K Sports team just recently released a stability patch to help, so let’s hope that online modes begin to function as advertised. If these issues aren’t addressed for gamers soon, NBA should be able to capitalize for this year and maybe even the next.
WIN/WIN For Gamers
No matter who wins between the two studios, it’s always a win/win for the gamers when studios compete. Competition is something that every gaming genre needs, not only so that gamers have a choice as to what they can buy, but also so that each game pushes the other to be better. Competition makes for better games and also shows gamers that studios actually want our money and will improve their games for our loyalty.
When companies aren’t pushed by a competitor, we get franchises like Madden Football, which always feels stagnant because it’s the only company that is allowed to produce professional football games. Gamers dont have a choice so they either buy Madden or don’t play a quality football game for the rest of that year. For the past few years, 2K has truly tried to push the genre forward, but after seeing Live 15, this should be a great start to a rivalry that will only get more heated, giving gamers a chance to see if NBA 2K can still be the champion studio of simulation basketball.