Exhale

NBA Live is (more or less) back, baby

There’s no question that EA Sports’ NBA Live was once the king of the court when it came to shooting hoops on console.

Could it really be nearing the same glory after spending years in the discount bin?

As any gamer familiar with the series will know, it all went pear-shaped for the Vancouver-based company at end of the 00’s as rival 2K Sports gained traction with NBA 2K.

Well, after NBA Live 17 was delayed and ultimately skipped, we finally have access to EA Sports’ latest attempt to dominate the genre – and, well, it looks like they are closer to achieving that goal than they have been for a decade.

Although the game skipped the company’s latest graphics engine, Frostbite, the visuals hold up surprisingly well. Indeed, the player likeness is pretty incredible, and all the big players have been precisely represented in everything from celebrations and playstyles to the very tattoos on their arms.

EA’s revamped solo career mode – dubbed ‘The One’ – is all about starting a legacy from the streets and building up to the heights of the NBA.

This mode was clearly a focus during development, and it shows: you get plenty of options in terms of customising your player’s style, traits and skills as you create your own journey.

The bread-and-butter Franchise and more recent Live Ultimate Team modes add considerable variety to the game, allowing you to mix things up without getting too bored.

All three of these modes could use more polish in terms of depth and engagement, but it’s all a step in the right direction.

NBA Live 18 is relatively easy to pick up in terms of gameplay, even if it takes a couple of games to get the basics down-pat. One of the most notable features is the new One-on-One Gameplay System, which offers vastly improved defensive and offensive capabilities when facing off with an opponent.

Some of the on-court animations still lack the genuine fluidity we all desire in sporting video games, like when players collide or suddenly change direction. These are not game-breaking issues, but issues that will need to be ironed out before the series returns to number one in the genre.

Overall, NBA Live 18 has made leaps and bounds for EA Sports in the basketball scene and holds up as a very entertaining title.

While it has areas for improvement and isn’t quite equal with the competition, it’s still a more than respectable game and could be a sign of great things to come.

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