This past Friday, EA released their anticipated NBA Live 19 game. With a positive look at the Live 19 demo a few weeks back, EA looks to have a step in the right direction in the basketball genre. After a full weekend of playing, here is my look at the game, both positive and negative.
If you have not played the demo, you’ll start off by creating your player. You can scan your face using the NBA Live app and download it directly to the game. Truthfully I found it difficult as for some reason my app was not connecting to my console but the good thing is that you can upload and change your character at any time, so in reality, this was not a big deal for me.
Last year, Live introduced the WNBA for the first time and this year you can create female characters. Unlike for male player, female players are not playable when playing the WNBA but they can still take part in streetball pickup games and you can upgrade those players. This a great step in the right direction when it comes to recognizing the talent of WNBA players. It is only a matter of time until you can play a full WNBA season with a created player.
Here is a quick recap of the created player. You are a former high school recruit, named ‘The One’ who decided to play overseas to build your game. Before getting drafted into the NBA, you play a couple of pickup games in various streetball courts with fellow WNBA and NBA players. You play with or against various players like Joel Embiid, Maya Moore, LeBron James and other top stars to build your name up. The details in these courts are incredible, from the Effiel Tower in the background of Paris to the village scene in Brazil.
You can even recruit these players to play on your team when you play in off the court pickup games, which is something different. This is a cool way for players to create their own fantasy lineups. Want to have Elena Delle Donne and Russell Westbrook on your team? You can do that here. You can also create your own court with various logos, color schemes and even having your own set of rules.
After that, you can choose to go to the NBA combine to build your draft stock to or continue your streetball career and this is an easy as you can jump back and forth between modes. The NBA season is simple, you play games and continue to earn minutes to eventually become a star in the NBA.
During this mode, there were a few video cutscenes talking about your guy with ESPN and Complex talking about the progression in short videos. It is also cool to see that some YouTube personalities like QJB and Famouslous32, for example, make appearances talking about The One. These cutscenes are minor and will flow with the storyline.
Progression in The One is simple, after every game you earn skill points which are used to increase attributes like passing, rebounding etc. You can even earn gear like jerseys and shoes for your player to wear. The one thing here, no microtransactions for this mode, instead you grind it out by playing earned and completing side quests like outscoring your matchup for example. This system feels far more rewarding.
Franchise mode is always a favorite of mine when it comes to any sports game. It is a way for you to build your favorite team and make it how you want it. There have been some small updates to the mode like pre-draft previews, and the introduction of “Bird Rights.” Outside of that, the franchise mode looks to be the same. It is not as detailed as it’s 2K counterpart but that can be built upon for next year.
Live 19 uses its ESPN broadcast license, which brings it’s sports network’s graphics, trademark music, and Jalen Rose for halftime highlights and breakdowns, which is a nice showing for realism. Ed Cohen and Jay Williams are new to the commentary team and they both have nice flow together. Like many sports games, the commentary can grow stale, which shows in franchise mode. Much like in EA’s Madden franchise, they plan to update NBA Live 19’s commentary throughout the season to keep things fresh which is good and shows that they are always improving even after a game comes out.
For games played outside of an NBA/WNBA court, Live nails the presentation of its blacktop courts and atmosphere of fans crowded around the edges trying to get a glimpse of the action. One particular thing I like is when after a big play, the camera cuts to a cell phone video of someone in the crowd live streaming the game, which is something cool they added.
Many of the game’s top stars are scanned in and look identical to their real-life counterparts. Signature celebrations from James Harden, for example, show some nice realism. Some of the role players, for example, can look a little generic. In the coming years, I can definitely see EA making an improvement on that.
The controls in NBA Live 19 are simple yet you can build upon more once you get the handle of the controls. There are some negatives, where sometimes the A.I. can sometimes get lost when they are off the ball the passing lanes can get clogged up but they look to be simple patches that can be added. Overall, the on-the-court gameplay and graphics are the best that Live has ever been.
Live 18 was started in an attempt for EA to make the series great again and Live 19 looks to have a made a bigger improvement. ‘The One’ career mode is a lot of fun and the progression is a simple grind to rank up your player but it is very rewarding even when you complete your first game.
The improved involvement of WNBA players is great to see as they are getting the same recognition as their male counterparts. Eventually, we can see Live include a career mode for female players going to the WNBA or even having a franchise mode with a full WNBA season. Adding them in streetball tournaments is a small stepping stone to see what can be added in the future.
Outside of the small A.I. problems and non-in-depth franchise mode, NBA Live 19 is a good game and I think there is an argument made that it can be good if not better than the 2K series.
If you are looking for something different than what 2K has made I recommend giving NBA Live 19 a try. The career mode and building your streetball fantasy team will keep you hooked on playing.