This is The Tuesday Triple, where I attempt to break down random topics into three points, and maybe an “and one” if I need it. Similar to the established Friday Five by Andrew, the topics will be related to basketball video games and their communities as a whole.
Since its release, NBA Live 14 has been both deservedly and undeservedly trashed for its gameplay and graphics. While the game is undoubtedly lacking in many areas when compared to NBA 2K14’s next-gen effort, it has provided myself and others with hours of mostly fun gameplay and a strange attraction to keep coming back for more. Even though it can be fun, there are still at least three major areas that need improvement that I can only wish will be included in the mythical yet-to-be-released patch by EA Sports.
Free Throw – NBA Live 14 Needs Custom Rosters
Plain and simple, allowing users to customize their rosters has been a staple of basketball (or any sports) video games for literally generations now. I find it amazing how NBA Live 10 on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 has received quality, community created roster updates in the years NBA Live was being rebooted, even with the restrictive 50 created player limit. Even without the ability for custom rosters, user The 24th Letter over at Operation Sports has shown off rigged Dynasty screenshots using trades and free agents to create these retro images. This is a tease to us that would love to play exhibition games with retro, or at least fantasy, rosters.
More important than these neat little rosters is the simple ability to edit the attributes and other data for existing NBA players. There is no way to edit Durant’s three point rating, there is no way to try out a recently completed or rumored trade, and there is no way to create yourself or missing players in the game. While NBA Live 14’s updates have been fairly OK in terms of adjusting for real life fluctuations, the time taken for trades to show up in the game make me fear the upcoming trade deadline frenzy. And you never know, users could find neat workarounds to fix gameplay issues like ThaLiveKing recently did with NBA Live 09 by manipulating certain ratings.
Layup – NBA Live 14’s Graphics are Current Gen + at Best
I could go on and on about how amazing and special NBA Live 14’s ball is, but it doesn’t heal all when it comes to the overall graphics seen in the game. I will admit that I once confused a CPU versus CPU game of NBA Live 14 for a real game when I walked by the TV. I think the presentation, more than anything else, is what threw me off. Yet, once you pick up the controller and play, that immersion is lost in a sea of muddy textures and strangely shaped players and faces.
There are definite redeeming factors in NBA Live 14’s graphics, as the textures are generally very good, but the overall package suffers greatly. This game needs a graphics update badly, because when 2K’s last-gen PC version can look better than a PS4 game, something is definitely wrong. Hopefully the face scans we have been seeing on the EA Sports Twitter will provide a fruitful update for NBA Live 14, but aside from the floors, there isn’t much beauty to stare at in the current game’s state.
Three Pointer – Sliders.
Period for the point. This, game, needs, gameplay, sliders, badly. NBA Live 14 needs user configurable gameplay sliders more than anything else. It would solve many gameplay issues that converts from 2K run into, or the lapsed NBA Live games will run into, or any individual playing the game could run into. Loosening the shooting difficulty should help with the shot timing adjustment, the dunk rating could be lowered to get less dunks in unrealistic situations, or someone like me could jack everything up and play 5 on 5 NBA Jam style.
What hurts with this is we know EA has been adjusting the game on the fly. If you download all the updates and use the latest roster file in NBA Live 14, it will play nothing like the game that was shipped just a couple months ago. That is a huge positive for EA Sports and the NBA Live team, but they can never make every individual happy. Sim heads will always want the perfect stats and idiots like me just want to slam. Giving the user sliders allows for this customized experience. It has been a fail-safe for EA Sports since NCAA March Madness 2003, why they didn’t come back in NBA Live 14 is just dumbfounding.
And One – Animation Updates
Being completely honest, NBA Live 14 doesn’t really need an animation update. Yes, I see the same dunk animations over and over again, and the added variation and smoothness would be great to have, but it isn’t required. NBA Live 14 plays a damn decent basketball game of X’s and O’s. The way signature dribbles are handled feel great, having the gather animations for dunks and layups while still being able to interrupt euro-steps make the game play great and look okay, and the ball physics after blocks are just magnificent. Still, it has that EA robot feel, and if they could implement better animation blending without sacrificing the (input lagged) control we currently have, it would only sweeten the cake going into NBA Live 15.
Image credits to Phreak50, The 24th Letter, and Earl1963.
How do you feel about NBA Live 14 in its current state? If you had to choose three main things to update, what would they be? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll be back to huck another brick next Tuesday.