EA Sports continues its bid to cut into the basketball gaming market that was once a monopoly for their chief competitor 2K Games. But is this year’s offering enough to woo over new fans? NBA Live 19 is out now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
NBA Live 19 Details
Stunning visuals and realistic action
Make no mistake, graphically NBA Live 19 is a fantastic game. The character models look just like their real-world counterparts. Action on the court looks realistic as well, with the kind of genuine movement and interactions that you’d expect from an EA Sports title.
There are also a vast number of options to create your own players as well, including a scanning feature designed to replicate your own image. Customizations are diverse and allow for a vast spectrum of character creation. Even better yet, this year NBA Live 19 includes the option to create female players as well.
Better seen than heard
The stunning visuals and graphical fidelity of NBA Live 19 continues to hold up during gameplay itself. Professional NBA games feel like a real broadcast with awesome camera angles and on screen animations and overlays. Unfortunately the game’s audio commentary track doesn’t come close to meeting the same standards.
The broadcast commentary in NBA Live 19 is broad and repetitive. It continually makes sweeping generalizations that only marginally reflect the true actions or motives on the court. The misrepresentation of an intentional foul for example can completely ruin the immersive experience.
Given that the return of the Live franchise is somewhat recent in the scope of most sports games, perhaps it might be tempting to give this a small pass. Certainly a lot of other sports games have fleshed out their commentary by supplementing it year over year as time allows. But NBA Live 19 should still be better than this by now, and I hope that this area receives some serious attention next time around.
Are you The One?
The pillar of NBA Live 19 is “The One” mode. Here you will craft your custom player, as well as design your own custom home court. Once these tasks are complete, you can embark on a journey for fame and glory in a number of branching modes of play.
For example, you can take your custom player from The One and set out to earn your way into the NBA via “The League”. Progression through The League revolves around parlaying your ball skills into earning contracts, attracting sponsors, and advancing your training regiment as you craft your own story at the professional level.
Conversely, “The Streets” is all about achieving global success in streetball contests all over the world. These competitions take place on stylish courts with many more variables than a traditional NBA match. A wide variety of challenges and game rules keep things fresh while you continue to improve your player and earn rewards.
Defend your court
Another great mode branching off of The One is “Court Battles”. Along your path you’ll put together your own squad of players to compete along side in various game modes. With Court Battles your squad can participate in attack and defense campaigns to defend your own custom home court, and take over the courts of other NBA Live 19 players.
Court Battles are new to NBA Live 19, and easily one of the most fun ways to spend your time in the game. It adds a strategic meta-game on top of the already excellent competitive gameplay elements. Much like The Streets, custom rules keep matches interesting, with the added bonus of being able to show off your custom court and compare it with those of friends and competitors around the world.
Gimme the loot
Of course you you will earn skill points and progression rewards across all modes of gameplay spawning from The One. You can use the well thought out skill chart to steer your custom player in the direction you choose. Ultimately their play style can suit whatever style best reflects the way you want to play.
On top of gameplay-based rewards however, you will also earn cosmetic rewards for both your player as well as your custom court. There is a lot of fun to be had in decking out your wardrobe, squad and court with a plethora of unique options to suit your tastes. You can earn both NBA licensed gear as well as custom graphics and styles.
Personally I named my custom home court “Disco 2000”. I opted for a black court with neon lines and accents. While earning more and more assets to customize my court further, I did my best to craft something reminiscent of an electrified 90’s theme that would suit its name, to amusingly enjoyable results.
LUT for the money
A few more staple modes round out the available ways to play in NBA Live 19, such as the standard franchise mode and online head-to-head options. Of course it wouldn’t be an EA Sports title without some incarnation of “Ultimate Team” Mode. In this case NBA Live 19 obliges with LUT, or “Live Ultimate Team”.
As someone who consistently reviews sports games, it’s getting difficult (and frankly, wearisome) to find new things to say about Ultimate Team or similar modes. Suffice it to say that Ultimate Team is designed around micro-transactions, and its goal is to entice players to purchase additional content with real world currency. If you want to spend more money on your game, Live Ultimate Team is the mode for you.
Is NBA Live 19 the best bang for your basketball bucks?
There is a lot that I really like about NBA Live 19. The One mode, and the other modes that branch out from it are so enjoyable that I barely noticed how I spent most of my time with an “NBA” game playing OUTSIDE the NBA. In an era where sports games are trying hard to come up with unique modes to grab your attention outside of traditional franchise simulation, NBA Live 19 is on the right track.
Nevertheless certain aspects of the game are still left wanting. The audio commentary track borders on laughable at times, and really needs a lot of polish if the Live franchise is going to rise to the top as gaming’s elite basketball franchise.
+ Polished graphics and fluid animations
+ Unique and interesting game modes such as The One and Court Battles
+ Female custom characters
– Poor audio commentary
– Ultimate team is back. It does little to innovate, but still wants your money
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF NBA LIVE 19
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5