It hasn’t always been a sweet walk for EA Sports’ NBA LIVE franchise – in fact, if we’re to be honest, it has been a troubled, bungled albatross since an attempted revamp as NBA ELITE 11 half a decade ago. Frustrating as the brand has been, EA is banking on NBA LIVE 16’s unprecedented depth of fresh customization features to return the licensed pro-basketball sim to its prior glory.
EA is going all-in with good reason. After a developmental relocation from EA Canada to Florida’s Tiburon Studios (they of annual MADDEN renown) in November 2010 after NBA ELITE 11’s post-demo cancelation, the mega-publisher announced in September 2012 that it was shelling the much-hyped NBA LIVE 13 entirely. The franchise ultimately returned with NBA LIVE 14 on Nov. 19, 2013…an event for which EA publicly apologized (no, seriously) after resoundingly scathing reviews.
Well, if your first several reboots fail…keep throwing money and resources at it like an agitated spider monkey until something sticks to the wall. Worst case, DC Comics, Sony Pictures executives and Michael Bay will recognize and respect your resolve to keep sticking your finger in a light socket and expect to eventually not be electrocuted.
Before we predict these brave developers’ inevitable doom to spending the next half-decade overseeing monkeys at typewriters toiling at a new SPIDER-MAN script, some credit where it’s due: the new HD face-scanning GameFaceHD app has potential. Contemporary video game sports franchises endear themselves on massive scales with their respective capacities to custom-steer a single player’s journey, from MLB: THE SHOW to 2K’s WWE series. Not only does NBA LIVE 16 entirely open up control over one player’s image and clothing, but the brand-new LIVE Pro-Am feature takes players through the debuting online Summer Circuit against current stars and the returning player-vs-player LIVE Run. Both bring to life North America’s most storied indoor and outdoor playground courts for a truly surreal laid-back experience of pick-up match-ups for bragging rights and Skill and Reward Points to attain some sweet unlockables.
The LIVE Motion realistic-physics-rooted player movement system re-imagines the flow of gameplay with smoother-than-ever flowing motion and in-the-moment control than NBA LIVE has ever offered. Between the improved physics and reconfigured system for passing and catching the rock, dribble hand-offs, bar-setting control over the pick-and-roll and silky-soft touch passes have electrified ball-distribution while minimizing redundant, stale animation loops. Meanwhile, a rebuilt shot system makes individual offense exceptionally creative and thoroughly personalized.
NBA LIVE 16 arrives Sept. 29 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.