NBA Live 18 is the newest title in the traditional basketball franchise of Eletronic Arts that returns to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 after a year of hiatus. With new modes, repaginated gameplay and graphics enhancements, the game once again strikes head-on with NBA 2K, its main competitor and absolute leader of the genre. But does the EA Sports simulator do enough to match the famous rival?
Back to action
It's hard not to be suspicious of EA's basketball series, which has been in turbulent times since the cancellation of Live 11, 12 and 13. Swallowed by the award-winning NBA 2K, the game still attempted a comeback with NBA Live versions 14, 15 and 16, but made it ugly and passed the year 2017 without a new release, with the promise of a more complete and neat title for 2018.
With NBA Live 18, EA looks forward to a new start for the series, with a focus on The One, a new game mode in which players can create their own athlete and advance through their career with the right to online game disputes and offline, progression system, hundreds of famous brand items and real arenas carefully recreated.
In the wave of The Journey-style campaign modes of FIFA 17 and 18, The One is an interesting bet for the return of NBA Live, with the combination of matches and everyday elements of the athlete, such as negotiation with sponsors and conflicts personal. The mode also breaks the monotony of games in ordinary stadiums and takes action for street blocks where it is possible to face conspicuous players in a more relaxed atmosphere without the use of official uniforms or complex rules.
Much more than their main campaign, The One mode also allows players to display their best items and moves in online matches, which ensure more money, reputation, and even exclusive clothing and footwear at special and temporary events.
Errors and Corrections
One of the main problems in the latest versions of NBA Live, the gameplay received special attention from EA in the 2018 version, and although not perfect, is clearly superior to the view in the previous titles. Commands, from the basic to the more advanced, are more intuitive and responsive, and result in more fun and balanced matches.
Even with all the adjustments, it is still possible to repair troublesome problems, such as gross errors of artificial intelligence, bugs of movement of the athletes and inconsistency of commands and animations, which happen quite frequently and can greatly disrupt the experience of the game.
Charts have been a controversial point in the series since the comeback of 2014, and they continue to share opinions on Live 18. Despite well-designed blocks, it's hard not to notice the lack of whimsy in recreating some athletes who look a little like real players. The phenomenon occurs even with great stars of the league, who suffer with incorrect proportions and quite generic movement.
The animations, very important for the good simulation and performance of basketball games, also leave to be desired in some moments, and are able to completely break the immersion. Bad handling of the ball, trays and weird burials, players sliding and floating around the blocks are among the most common problems, unlike the new and more fluid moves added in this version, which usually do a good job on their visual part.
To compensate for flaws with player models and animations, the presentation is flawless, from its menus to match entry scenes, introductions to The One's arenas and recreation of the mood of major games. At that point, EA's game looks pretty and can be compared to rival NBA 2K18.
Ultimate Team, WNBA and problematic online
The Ultimate Team mode, a trademark of EA sports games, also appears in NBA Live 18 as an option for players looking for a full online experience. Although interesting, the mode is not as complex and complete as seen in FIFA 18 and Madden 18, and is restricted to unique multiplayer matches (no rankings or divisions) and a host of award-winning card and player pack challenges.
The few online multiplayer alternatives still suffer from somewhat unstable servers capable of causing very annoying delays and even complete disconnections during games. With so many problems, it is difficult to execute even simple moves like three-pointers and fights, without being punished by the intense lag.
Fans of long offline solo campaigns have the return of the Franchise, a kind of career mode in which it is possible to choose one of the NBA teams and act as a manager, playing matches, hiring new players and taking care of off-court aspects as choices of athletes in the league's annual draft, injury treatment and team lineup.
Online and offline friendly with multiplayer support, training arena and 1x1 and 5x5 casual matches are also in the pack. One of the highlights is the possibility of playing games with teams from the WNBA, women's basketball league, which unfortunately are only available for friendlies and stay out of championships and online matches.
The comments come from the duo Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy, famous for broadcasts on American TV, which, along with good sound effects, help tone and excite NBA Live 18 games.
NBA Live 18 is an honest attempt by EA Sports to revive one of its top franchises, despite the problems presented. With some good ideas, such as the new The One mode, WNBA teams and considerable improvements in gameplay, the game is still far from ideal but can develop and eventually compete on an equal footing with the giant NBA 2K.