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NBA Live 18 Initial Impressions: A Better Than Expected Debut

NBA Live 18

NBA Live 18 Initial Impressions: A Better Than Expected Debut

What Does NBA Live 18 Feel Like?

I mean, that’s the question we all have, right? Everyone has had a chance to at least play the demo by now (if they wanted), but we’re still years removed from the last full release from EA Sports, so one has to wonder: what does NBA Live feel like after all these years? Was it a mistake on EA Sports’ part to reboot the franchise? Does it feel outdated and/or broken?

If we’re being honest with ourselves, many of us were asking these same questions ever since we found out it was coming back.

I am extremely happy to report that it was not a mistake to bring this franchise back. At all.

Is this game perfect, polished, and ready to jump in the ring with the NBA 2K franchise? No, I would say not yet — it just doesn’t have enough meat on its bones quite yet. However, that was never a realistic expectation for year one, so that’s not what this is about.

So to answer the question I’ve been asking, It feels like a game that is going to be a lot of fun to play.

For purposes of full disclosure, I am a longtime avid fan of the NBA 2K series. I say this because even though I am going to do my best to avoid making this a comparison article between the two franchises, I do think it’s important for you to know my level of experience with basketball games. If you’ve never before played a basketball video game, you would absolutely have a lot of fun here. But if you’re also wondering what it’s like from the perspective of a longtime fan of basketball games, read on.

How Does It All Start?

Upon booting up the game for the first time, you are taken immediately to a Drew League game. It’s a quick exercise up to 21 which allows you to familiarize yourself with the controls. The controls are remarkably similar to the NBA 2K control scheme, so experienced gamers will feel ready to go after the Drew League game concludes.

After this game, you’ll eventually find yourself on the home screen. The layout itself is clean and easy to navigate, but I find it to be somewhat sluggish. This seems like a minor complaint, but if you’re looking to do a lot of tweaking in several different areas, it starts to add up and feel cumbersome.

Even worse is the omission of roster editing in any way, shape or form. EA will eventually push out roster updates, but leaving users no options to make edits themselves, much less download community updates, is extremely disappointing.

Injuries also can’t be toggled in quick-play games. Its a minor quibble but still somewhat frustrating.

Roster and injury issues aside, given that this is essentially a first-year release, I was pleasantly surprised to find as many customization options as I did. You can make tweaks to as many rules, settings and sliders as you see fit, which is critical in today’s market.

How Well Does The Game Play?

This is perhaps the most important question to ask about the game. And the answer, of course, is complicated.  his is a first-year release, so to expect a fully polished game is to be unrealistic. But it doesn’t have to be totally polished yet. What it does need, though, is a solid base to build on for years to come. And after a few hours playing NBA Live 18, I’m really optimistic for the future of this franchise.

When I stepped onto the court for the first time, the first thing to jump out at me is how, from a distance, the game looks and feels very well rounded.

I will admit that at least a small part of me expected the worst when EA decided to reboot the franchise. I was prepared for a year-one disaster followed by some steady improvements the following years. And while there are absolutely a large number of important items missing from the game, what is here gameplay-wise is really impressive.

Player movement is very responsive. I definitely feel in control of my player and the ball overall. I do get stuck into canned animations a bit too much at points when trying to move back and forth or side to side — it can sometimes feel like I am being pulled between two big rubber bands — but in general it’s an input-driven gameplay system that makes sense.

I fully admit that perhaps my issue with the canned animations could magnify over time, but I felt myself getting somewhat used to them and “playing around them” so to speak as time wore on.  Regardless, everything from the cutting and rebounding to the passing and shooting feels very natural.

I do think players on a larger scale are a little too similar to each other. This isn’t to say that running the court with Steven Adams feels the same as it does with John Wall; you can absolutely notice that difference. But driving to the hoop with PG-13 and Trevor Ariza doesn’t feel as different as I’d like it to.

To put it another way, I feel the difference between Westbrook and Backup Point Guard X, but the extremes are where the clear differences are noticeable more than with players who are maybe only a tier apart from each other on the skill tree.

Another area that needs some work is post play. Post defense feels fine for what it is, but throwing the rock down low to your big man doesn’t feel as realistic as, say, watching your SG cut through the lane to break open for a three point bomb. This is a perimeter-driven game where you have far more control and depth of choice when your back is not to the hoop. Post play tends to be clunky and robotic, while the mid-range and three-point game has a more natural feel.

Using the right stick to control your dribble, use the hesitation, and cross your man up is a lot of fun. It doesn’t feel as responsive as it could once it’s perfected, but the inputs make sense and feel one to one in terms of your movement on the stick relating to an action on the screen.

On the whole, I have been pleasantly surprised with how well it works. I was able to juke and find an opening through the lane on many occasions. It’s pretty impressive, again, for a first-year release.

Looking Forward

The biggest reported bug is the auto subs on/off toggle. You would like turning this off would affect only your subs, but it apparently affects the computer as well, which means you can either have the computer sub for both teams or nobody gets to sub, period. There is an apparent workaround, and I will definitely look at this issue more closely as I get more time with the game.

I spent some time with the the Ultimate Team and The One, but I’ll save those thoughts for the coming days. For the time being, I’m focusing on getting reacquainted with NBA Live. And I’m having a really great time doing so.

If you told me weeks ago that I would enjoy playing the new NBA Live, I’d have been skeptical — at best. But after just a few hours, NBA Live has me really excited for the future. And that can only mean great things for fans of basketball video games.

How are you guys enjoying NBA Live 18 so far? What are some of the things you find yourself enjoying? Where do you think improvements are needed the most? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. My personal opinion is live plays better than 2k which is a disappointment because I love my retro teams and stuff. 2k feels more of the same and Live has a different feel, a different pace. It's not as polished as 2k but it is more fun to play in my opinion.
    Another huge miss is the lack of an injury toggle as they just don’t appear to be in the game at all. It certainly is an odd omission. If you like to play quick games with injuries off, this isn’t a huge deal. But, for example, it’s a big deal when it comes to the franchise mode, for example.

    Brandon pretty sure there is an injury toggle, for both upcoming potential and starting franchise with existing injuries.
    The game is simply put: fun.
    You can make a list of everything that it's missing and that's fine.
    But you don't feel cheated. It doesn't feel scripted in any way.
    I love getting my guys to the FT line constantly throughout the game. I love rebounding battles. If you win, you feel like you've earned it not like you were animated through the game from beginning to the end.
    I like the fact that each team plays to its style but in a free-flowing way. And there's ample room to improvise.
    They really need to amp up community feedback for '19 because the foundation is clearly there.
    The game is so good that I've put the whiffs of Elite and prior games behind me. Just enjoying this one for what it is.
    Really glad to hear that bigeast. Love seeing the oldtimers enjoy the game. The guys are working hard to bring a fun, good experience..
    NBA Live on the court is the better playing game to me this year! It is fun and sim (non scripted gameplay)!
    I hope they add some patches to enhance the experience over the course of this season! Go Live!!!!
    Article was spot on.
    The game is flat out fun. Moving forward, once the game becomes more polished, the gap between the two nba will shrink. The devs did a great job with this product. Glad NBA Live is back!
    Lisac
    Like Live better in most aspects over 2k.
    Unfort went will 2k cause of editing
    Good yr for Live though
    Same here man. I can't buy a bucket though, ugh.
    Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk
    The game is fun, and I've done nothing but play now games all weekend. They just need to add more stuff and iron out the kinks. My expectations weren't that high, but this game plays good enough to carry me throughout the nba season.
    I'll keep saying it...the simplicity of this game is what makes it fun to me. It's a fun game to play on the court. It's a foundational game IMO, so to compare it to 2k right now is pretty useless. My hope is that EA will continue to build on this and add more layers to it from here. And the atmosphere is awesome I might add.
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    So I spent some time with the game over the weekend. It is simply a lot of fun to play.
    I also spent ample time with 2K18.
    These are two different games. And you know what? I like that. When I want to play a MyCareer mode...Live 18 is my go to game with "The One". So far (and it is early as I am only 3 games into my career in The League) it has been amazingly fun. What I am going to look for though is how much interaction will happen with the media, my agent and other aspects of "story telling" and activity around The League as well as on The Street.
    I plan on playing The Street as well.
    Franchise mode is just bad. And unfortunately I will not be touching that mode on Live 18. It is far inferior to the extremely polished MyLeague and MyGm modes of 2K.
    As far as on the court, it is a different feel and the fun factor is huge.
    Again between this and 2K18 my basketball fix will be filled with ample amounts of NBA deliciousness for years to come.
    This is a game that is very easy to pick up and play. Very old school IMO. Which is a great thing.
    If you want a true simulation and rich and deep franchise experience ....2K18 will give you that big time.
    If you want a game you can simply pick up and play without having to really learn a plethora of controls (and I have no issues with 2K's controls as they are awesome and easy to learn if you put in some time with it), simply play out a season (all franchise mode IMO on Live is good for is a one season experience IMO, but that even has a lot of issues with trades, injuries etc and complete lack of options) Live could be the right spot. I still think if you are a franchise only player you simply owe it to yourself to pick up 2K18 which IMO is potentially the GOAT console sports game (along with MLBTS17).
    But IMO where the game clearly shines is in it's MyPlayer mode The One. Very easy to see where the massive amount of development time went. I still have to wait to give it an overall grade....and it may take some time because I want to see how The One plays out as I get deeper into my career.
    I also want to venture out to online play with friends (I can't play with randoms....just can't) and see how the servers are. Knowing how good EA is with online play on Madden I would imagine they should be solid.
    But it is nice to see Live is back. The arena's are outstanding, the presentation is solid, the crowds are fantastic (much better in Live than 2K IMO) and overall the game has a great feel. Just a lot of fun to plug and play.
    "watching your SG cut through the lane to break open for a three point bomb."
    I have played and coached for roughly the last 30 years. That would be a hell of a move to pull that off.
    For online and career mode, and FUN FACTOR, NBA LIVE 18 is the winner. This is my go to game.
    For franchise mode, that's where I also bought 2K18. (Mind you, even 2K18 MyGM has lots of bugs - easy trades, players with billions in salary, new owner's son becoming assists (edit: assistant) GM and forcing trades - it has issues of its own.)
    Overall, the new experience I had is online play. I avoid the 2K18 park due to its PAY to win concept. But in NBA LIVE 18, I'm a convert of online play. No pay to win, just bring your own THE ONE and have fun. (Of course, we always meet the de rigueur ball hogs.)
    This is by far the best nba game EA ever made. As a bball fan I thank 2k all those years even with their flaws . Now live is so much more fun & exitment to play, so many great details they added, it feels that anything can happen during a game. You can come back when you are down big &the same goes for cpu. Exactly as other friends said, it doesn't feel scripted.I just feel like enjoying not every game but every possession offensive or defensive. And it looks amazing. There are some flaws with the subs & things like that but I believe that devs will address all these. I think that this year we have to respect their effort & support them because they came up with a great fun and addictive game
    Στάλθηκε από το GT-I8200N μου χρησιμοποιώντας Tapatalk
    Just got to level 30 and absolutely loving this game. Only played 2 NBA games but spent most of my time on the Pro-Am tour. Finished Philly and beat all the challenges, got 2 very nice Philly throwback jerseys for Dr. J and Iverson. Moved onto Dykman and just in the finals. I'm making sure to beat all the challenges as I go as there are some nice rewards for it. I don't care much about shoes but I unlocked a pair of Nike 'Paranormans' and they are savage. I really like the story as well. It's minimal but if you make sure to read all the messages, a story is developing nicely whether it's about meeting fans for a pick up game to will Nick ever make it to the NBA. The progress is so natural and freeflowing, an utter joy to level up my character and unlock rewards.
    The gameplay itself is a lot of fun, most fun I've had with a basketball game in years.Like stated previously, the posessions feel natural and non-scripted. Games get very tense and I like how different players react to you. One game their PG would take 3's if I left him open, the next game, the PG would never take 3's but would drive to the basket instead.
    There aren't enough midrange shots atm. The ones I take are 50/50 (low midrange rating so I prefer to drive or pass to the open man. After trying a step back jumper for one of the challenges, I am addicted to them now, especially when I take someones ankles when I step back. Whether I win or lose, I finish every game with a smile on my face and eager to get onto the next one.
    My biggest complaint atm is tattoos on arms won't show up in-game but that's just a cosmetic issue.
    I'm not a franchise player so can't comment on that and I rarely play ultimate team but My Team and My League from 2k appears to have Live well and truly beat their. No issue with me though as I mostly play Career and Park, both of which are significantly better than 2K. I hated waiting around in Park on 2k only for a squad to show up and get ahead of me. The idea of park is cool but I don't have time to wait 5-10 minutes for a game online.Also, watching Smoove cideos, he usually gets me hyped to buy 2k but I'm so glad I passed on it this year. The prelude was crap and all Smoove seems to do is train freethrows or goes to the gym. Way to o much grindingskills, badges, vc etc.
    Brings me onto the reviews. Most revies I've read make Live seem 'ok but nowhere near 2k.'. I know 2k is much more polished but Live is the superior GAME imo. Most youtube videos are about 2k, not Live, I just hopethe devs get proper support to keep updating Live 18 and get ready for Live 19 because I have well and truly switched allegiances.
    Wishes for Live:
    Allow us to create our own Pro-Am team of real players, pick our own court and/or customize it with our custom team logo. Also add custom jerseys. Could get a really good Pro-Am league going with that.
    I've already seen a few people write off Live becauses 'I've heard it's not as good as 2k' which is a pity, I hope people at least try it out before blindly bowing to the 2k gods.
    My PSN is sheehy83 if anyone wants to add me for a few games online.
    sheehy83
    Just got to level 30 and absolutely loving this game. Only played 2 NBA games but spent most of my time on the Pro-Am tour. Finished Philly and beat all the challenges, got 2 very nice Philly throwback jerseys for Dr. J and Iverson. Moved onto Dykman and just in the finals. I'm making sure to beat all the challenges as I go as there are some nice rewards for it. I don't care much about shoes but I unlocked a pair of Nike 'Paranormans' and they are savage. I really like the story as well. It's minimal but if you make sure to read all the messages, a story is developing nicely whether it's about meeting fans for a pick up game to will Nick ever make it to the NBA. The progress is so natural and freeflowing, an utter joy to level up my character and unlock rewards.
    The gameplay itself is a lot of fun, most fun I've had with a basketball game in years.Like stated previously, the posessions feel natural and non-scripted. Games get very tense and I like how different players react to you. One game their PG would take 3's if I left him open, the next game, the PG would never take 3's but would drive to the basket instead.
    There aren't enough midrange shots atm. The ones I take are 50/50 (low midrange rating so I prefer to drive or pass to the open man. After trying a step back jumper for one of the challenges, I am addicted to them now, especially when I take someones ankles when I step back. Whether I win or lose, I finish every game with a smile on my face and eager to get onto the next one.
    My biggest complaint atm is tattoos on arms won't show up in-game but that's just a cosmetic issue.
    I'm not a franchise player so can't comment on that and I rarely play ultimate team but My Team and My League from 2k appears to have Live well and truly beat their. No issue with me though as I mostly play Career and Park, both of which are significantly better than 2K. I hated waiting around in Park on 2k only for a squad to show up and get ahead of me. The idea of park is cool but I don't have time to wait 5-10 minutes for a game online.Also, watching Smoove cideos, he usually gets me hyped to buy 2k but I'm so glad I passed on it this year. The prelude was crap and all Smoove seems to do is train freethrows or goes to the gym. Way to o much grindingskills, badges, vc etc.
    Brings me onto the reviews. Most revies I've read make Live seem 'ok but nowhere near 2k.'. I know 2k is much more polished but Live is the superior GAME imo. Most youtube videos are about 2k, not Live, I just hopethe devs get proper support to keep updating Live 18 and get ready for Live 19 because I have well and truly switched allegiances.
    Wishes for Live:
    Allow us to create our own Pro-Am team of real players, pick our own court and/or customize it with our custom team logo. Also add custom jerseys. Could get a really good Pro-Am league going with that.
    I've already seen a few people write off Live becauses 'I've heard it's not as good as 2k' which is a pity, I hope people at least try it out before blindly bowing to the 2k gods.
    My PSN is sheehy83 if anyone wants to add me for a few games online.

    I just read through your first paragraph and yes, it's fun! The story is not pushed through our throats and no corny cut scenes.
    Now let me read the rest of your comments.
    Played a little more Live. I'm gonna list some things I dislike because I enjoy the gameplay mostly.
    I dislike that Live Run is the only mode online (as far as I know), and especially because it's not always full of players. It would be good if they had some 2 on 2, 3 on 3, real nba team up, etc. Playing 2 on 3 w/ computers is pretty boring because Live gameplay is tuned for online, imo.
    I feel some of the gameplay is wasted because dudes are always trying to dunk. They get some pretty wack dunks from time to time, but I don't think that'd be too hard to fix. There are some dunks that seem legit and others are not, so-called rocket dunks.
    I'm begging for more modes Live! Maybe next year, eh. 21, 1 on 1, 2 on 2, 3 on 3. I really like fouls, too, so a real mode (if not real teams with real players) would be great.
    I do like how the game plays offline, though. It's hard, for me, and that's cool. I like how the cpu won't let you just pass around the perimeter without thinking. I think they get some crazy steals, too, but I'm not too mad at that. Prol less than 20% of the steals are garbage. I'm playing on superstar tho.
    I hope we can continue on from here; I really wish there was some way to patch in more multiplayer ( more than 1 v 1 w teams) online modes, tho, that would be my biggest request. Just some variety. Unless I'm tweaking and it's already there.
    Could see myself getting bored of Live run 5 on 5 to 21 after awhile.
    -Smak
    I really disliked the demo, but I gave the EA Access trial a shot, and ended up really enjoying the little bit of time I've spent with it. I'm relatively new to basketball games (last year's 2K is really the first one I've spent any significant time with), so I can't really pick out any nuances, or nitpick issues too much, but I just know that the couple of games I played of the full version of NBA Live 18 were pretty fun, and part of me wishes I had picked it up when you could pre-order at the discounted rate.
    I don't know if I'll pay full price for a second basketball game this year, but I could see myself picking it up if it goes on sale, and I'll definitely check it out more when it hits the EA Access vault if I don't end up buying it.
    I started playing NBA Live 18 with the demo and found it to be fun. I kept coming back to playing it which is good. Not perfect, it I enjoyed it. Just didn't know if I would get it with NBA 2k18 coming out. But then I was lucky enough to get it for free and I'm having a blast playing it. I enjoy playing The One a lot and will conintue to. Glad I have this game. With some improvements to various things (most franchise) I could see myself playing his game more than 2k

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