With 2014 underway and software developers hard at work on the sports video games that will see release in the coming calendar year, GoodGameBro.com staff members Corey Andress and Brian Parker sat down to focus on “One Feature for 2014” which would make an improvement for each of the major franchises. Be it gameplay, presentation, online, or some other aspect of the game, these features or innovations represent what our staff feel would help each game make a big splash in 2014.
For the complaints that have been lodged against NBA 2K14, it’s clear that NBA LIVE 14 has suffered far worse in the court of public opinion since EA SPORTS finally managed to get a game in the series out for public consumption. After a multi-year hiatus during which the development team attempted to release a simulation basketball game on two occasions without success, NBA LIVE 14’s biggest success was simply getting out the door. If NBA LIVE is meant to continue on as a viable title going forward, however, significant improvements and better design decisions will need to happen sooner rather than later.
Corey: Online Team Play
When NBA Live 10 released to fairly positive community reaction, many thought the series was on an up-turn for the better – possibly moving into position to dethrone the mighty NBA 2K series. Obviously we know how the story turned out until NBA Live 14’s return this year, but let’s focus on one of the features that made NBA Live 10 such a blast to play – Online Team Play (OTP), or otherwise known in NBA Live 10 as Adidas Live Run.
When NBA Live 14 came back this year, many in the community anticipated OTP would make the return with it – considering it was a main reason people flocked to the series in the past. Obviously we all know that expectation wasn’t met this year – sort of understandable considering it was basically a restart on the franchise.
That grace won’t be given this year however, and in my view, it’s almost a necessity for it to return in NBA Live 15. Given its popularity and the addictiveness of its competitor’s version – NBA 2K14’s Park Mode – this is something that needs to be addressed in NBA Live 15 wants to remain competitive in the online basketball market. Give us the ability to play and practice with our friends and take on other teams across the world. NBA Live 10’s mode wasn’t layered with depth, but even with its simplistic nature, it was still fun to head in and play with friends. I still remember the games I used to play on as a part of PastaPadre’s team in Adidas Live Run and the amount of fun we had playing through games and laughing along the way. In fact, I dug through some old videos and found one of the online games me and Pasta played together in which he was Brandon Roy and I played as Ray Allen.
Brian: Practice and Tutorial Mode
One of the most puzzling aspects of the release of NBA LIVE 14 was the lack of any true Practice or Tutorial mode in the game, especially since the last game in the franchise was NBA LIVE 10, released all the way back in 2009. Even the biggest fans of NBA LIVE were essentially starting back at square one—especially with the addition of BounceTEK and other gameplay features—with regard to the controls of the game, and thus nearly every player was approaching NBA LIVE 14 in need of basic instruction. Unfortunately, the game wasn’t there to offer such assistance at launch, and only recently have tutorial videos been making the rounds through EA SPORTS promotion to help teach the basics.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the situation is that at E3 2013, the only form that NBA LIVE 14 was playable in was as a single player on the court trying out the BounceTEK ball-handling and dribble moves; the game was not yet in a state to show off the full five-on-five action. Surprisingly, this training mode was completely absent from the retail release of NBA LIVE 14 altogether.
Of course, having a Practice or Tutorial mode in NBA LIVE 15 isn’t just meant for learning controls; there has to be a way to learn set plays in the game as well. While NBA 2K14 has handy on-screen instructions whether you’re running a quick play or something you’ve drawn up for yourself, NBA LIVE 14 merely popped up the name of the play on the screen if you decided to run a play on offense, without any guidance whatsoever on-screen to help you understand what that play would do. For as seamless as the pick and roll play is in NBA LIVE 14, anything beyond that was confounding because there was no Practice space set aside to learn how the plays were meant to be run and execute them accordingly so that they would be of use in a real game situation.
A post-release letter from the development team stated that NBA LIVE 14 would see significant post-release support and updates, including the possible addition of a practice mode to help players master the game, but we’re now two months into the game’s lifespan and roughly eight months away from the release of NBA LIVE 15. While such a patch may eventually see the light of day and bring needed updates to the game already released, it seems more likely that NBA LIVE 15 will need to step in and provide access to practice and tutorial modes.
With the NBA LIVE development team hard at work scanning the faces of NBA players throughout the current season, it stands to reason that NBA LIVE 15 will see at least some visual improvement. Ensuring that Practice mode, and in-depth Tutorials (whether interactive or video), are present on-disc this Fall when the franchise faces its next—and perhaps last—chance at grabbing new fans in the PlayStation 4/Xbox One communities. Failure to do so may see the end of the series as we know it, so the stakes are as high as they’ve ever been.
NBA LIVE 15 has a steep hill to climb in order to regain its footing amongst the giants of sports video gaming today; what feature would help it attain that goal for you? Let us know in the comments below, or join the conversation in our forums!