NBA Live 14, it truly does exist. I've seen and played it briefly, so I know without a doubt it will release on Nov. 19 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. After years of tears for fans of the former king of virtual hoops, there is finally a release to look forward to.
While I have had the opportunity to play about six quarters, this still qualifies as a preview, because I won't get a copy of the full game for another 24 hours. Once I do, I'll be putting in the requisite time to deliver a full review.
Developers Ryan Ferwerda and Scott O'Gallagher personally gave me a walk-through of the game's features, so I know what to expect when I get a chance to explore it completely. Though I don't have all the information to deliver a full review, I can say what I played was a pleasant surprise.
Here's a breakdown of the game's features.
CourtQ and BounceTek
These two features were a major focus for the game's developers. Making Live 14 a realistic simulation was paramount for the team. CourtQ is designed to make A.I.-controlled players react as they should on the floor for user-controlled teams and CPU opponents.
Players should rotate on defense effectively, play pick-and-roll defense properly and roll to the basket with intelligence.
The BounceTek feature is designed to effectively separate the ball from the man at all times. No matter the animation, the ball is supposed to behave as an individual object. In this concept, the ball bounces realistically whether interaction is caused by a player, the floor or the basket.
NBA Live 14 is addressing the use of advanced statistics in the NBA by incorporating the data from Synergy Sports. The company provides up-to-the-moment data on every player, which is based entirely on their real-life performances.
It is designed to take the guesswork out of player ratings and performance.
The card-collecting, fantasy-sports imitating mode has made its way to the NBA Live franchise. Head-to-head battles are available with friends online, but there are also a few intriguing options through a UT feature called Fantasy Showdowns.
The mode creates various challenges such as asking you to build a team of all point guards and other nontraditional tasks. It is a pretty cool spin on the concept.
Players can replay every game on their favorite team's schedule, complete with the active rosters for that game through NBA Rewind. In another option under the Live Season's umbrella, gamers are able to play the most memorable moments from the current NBA season.
In my brief time with the game, I got an opportunity to relive Derrick Rose's game-winner against the New York Knicks during the first week of the NBA season.
NBA Live will bring its own single-player experience mode with Rising Star. Take a player through his entire career beginning with the rookie all-star game and continuing through what would hopefully become a Hall of Fame career. This type of mode has become a prerequisite for all sports games.
Gamers can play through 25 full seasons, as if they will ever have the time, but if so, it is possible here. Most of the traditional features are available as well. One twist in player-movement logic comes in a feature that allows dynamic team identities. Organizations will tank in appropriate situations while others may spend without a care every year to put a winning team on the court.
Finally, an EA Sports franchise has properly utilized the ESPN license. Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Jalen Rose offer their talents and voices to one of the better looking halftime shows around.
I need more time to hear and take in the in-game commentary, but having seen the presentation at the intermission, I can vouch for the quality in this aspect of the game.
Looking Ahead to the Review
Look for the full review to drop on Nov. 19 when the game officially releases. A full demo is also expected around that time. Interested fans can give the game a test drive before deciding if it is for them.
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