The NBA season is fast approaching, and along with it comes a new pair of basketball games fighting for the top spot. In recent years the NBA 2K series has gained considerable ground on the once dominant NBA Live franchise, but will this be the year that Live becomes top dog once again? Well, if the demo is any indication of what’s to come the answer is a definite No.
Upon firing up the NBA Live 16 demo you will play out a tense NBA Finals game 7 final buzzer beater between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. You control the Thunder as you inbound to Live cover athlete Russell Westbrook for the game-winning shot. If you’re not interested in the late game theatrics you can simply press the start button and skip the prologue. Once the buzzer beater is complete it is on to a full complete game featuring the same two teams.
My first impressions after the opening tip off were the movements were a tad sluggish, but not a major flaw. I began noticing the announcers repetitively stating how many rebounds a player averaged on the season whenever he would grab a missed shot, or saying “He was one of the top scorers this season” whenever a player like James, Durant, or Westbrook touched the ball. I thought nothing of it, and hoped that this repetitive dialogue would only last for each of the players’ first possessions, but they just kept repeating themselves. Whenever they did say something new it almost felt like a bad fill-in-the-blanks voiceover, substituting player names over the same tired lines. To summarize: the commentary sounds very dated.
The next thing I noticed that seemed very off were the player avatars. Typically in any sports game the majority of player avatars are their stock image taken by the league either during the off season or the season before, but NBA Live 16 decided to create their own avatars and they look atrocious. Many players look nothing like their avatar, and when there is a slight resemblance they look like they just drank an entire bottle of Nyquil. Many sports media sites have already caught wind of this, and The Score posted a hilarious compilation of tweets about it.
I decided to put all that aside and continue on with the demo, and was somewhat enjoying myself. The court and fans in the arena looked excellent, and the mechanics of the game were actually pretty good, until I came across a hilarious glitch. During the game I fouled Kevin Love, forcing him to go to the line for free throws. No need for me to explain what happened next, as I captured the video for your amusement. Take a look:
The NBA Live 16 demo definitely did not impress, and it looks like EA Sports will have to do some major damage control if it wants to recover and not bury itself that much further below NBA 2K. If you’re a hardcore Live player I recommend trying the demo out for yourself, and see if the foundation of the game is something that will make you look past the many blemishes NBA Live 16 seems to have.