As long as eyes are the primary organ needed to enjoy a video game, graphics will be paramount in their success. Heading into the next-generation of consoles, visual excellence is even more important. The graphics have to wow fans initially to make us believe we’re actually upgrading from our Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.
The NBA Live series has had its ups and downs since its inception, but recently it has been out of sight for virtual hoops fans. With the series set to make its return to console gaming on the Xbox One and Playstation 4, all eyes will be on the player models, arenas, lighting and other potential eye candy.
It is impossible not to directly compare NBA Live 14 to its immediate competition NBA 2K14. The first measuring stick will come in the graphics category. The game that most fans feel has the more realistic visuals and animation will have an immediate leg up.
Everything from the most minute detail like authentic tattoos, accessories and hairstyles will be critiqued. It may sound trivial, but game developers have spoiled us to this point. Things of this nature have been accurately rendered in the past—or at least closely enough to make us try to push the envelope.
Because NBA Live has been absent from the scene since EA Sports released NBA Live 10, the series is fighting an uphill battle. To keep from rolling back down the hill, the visuals must be on-par with—or superior—to the competition.
Graphics aren’t everything. though.
There are other aspects of the game that must also come through at a high level. The footage that we’ve seen from Live, like the trailer below, would suggest the graphics are going to be solid. However, we won’t be able to make a full determination until we see extended five-on-five gameplay.
Many virtual hoops fans are sticklers for a game that plays as much like the real thing as possible. This is so much the case that if a great looking game plays less-than authentic, it may still be dismissed by hardcore gamers.
Vice versa, a moderately good looking game will gather a following if it plays a more realistic version of the sport. EA Sports has already announced a few features such as bounceTek, Signature Style and CourtQ technology designed to augment the realism in the game.
To enhance the physics-based dribbling, bounceTek will ideally allow the ball to bounce off the floor, rim and players realistically.
CourtQ and Synergy stats bring the elements of advanced statistics into the game’s artificial intelligence. It all sounds great, but the proof is having the controller in your hand and a smile on your face.
Solid Feature Set
Sometimes, the tendency is to hold back a bit on the first game in a series on a new console. Normally, that would be perfectly understandable. However, NBA Live can’t really afford to take that route. Because it is trying to slay a beastly NBA 2K series, it needs to bring a robust feature set from the beginning.
A fully functioned franchise mode and solid online play is essential. Most of all, the companies’ Ultimate Team concept must be included and function properly. For those that aren’t aware of what Ultimate Team is, it is a mode that blends card collecting with fantasy draft concepts.
Ultimate Team has been a huge success in the FIFA, NHL and Madden NFL series, but the concept is probably best-suited for basketball.
There are less players on a team, thus it should be easier to acquire stars that excite fans. In basketball, acquiring one star impacts a team more than in any other sport.
Hopefully, NBA Live delivers all the essential goodies and some unexpected qualities.
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