Last year was a dark time for the EA Sports NBA Live franchise. The game was under a lot of full court pressure from the powerhouse that is NBA 2K and it collapsed under said pressure by not even making it to the retail market. The only thing that I can say is that by being pushed so far can only make a game that much better. That is the case with NBA Live 13. In the 15min presentation of the game that we were shown during E3 2012, I learned many things. To be brief for this preview, I will tell you a couple of the things that I learned. NBA Live is going to be a good game, it may be far from being finished, but the emphasis on gameplay might make 2K rethink their strategy.
In the demo we were shown a brief quarter of demo gameplay between the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat. If you thought this game was going to be your basic run of the mill sports game with a few tacked on features, than you are surely mistaken. In order to create live, EA rebuilt the whole development team from the ground up and they treated the game as if it was a new IP. Now, with those thoughts in mind I was able to watch the demo and hold a greater appreciation for what EA Tiburion was doing. One of the really new and interesting features that they talked about was the playmaker engine. If you watch basketball, than you will understand what a basketball IQ is. If you do not a basketball IQ is the intelligence of player on the court to know where to be without the ball, to be in a position to score, assist and rebound based on the actions of his or her teammates.
The basketball IQ allows for a much more realistic gameplay experience, which allows all of your players to move around the floor with a purpose, and enables them to follow plays and orders without goofing up. What was also interesting was how players will now have split second creativity, which leads to better responsive moments. Since, the animations in this game have been completely redone you are no longer locked into shooting and passing animations like other sports titles. This allows the gamer to have full and complete control of the player they are controlling really making them feel like they are in the game. What had really impressed me was the fact that although this was obviously a sports game, the gameplay felt fast paced and life like akin to NBA game that you could watch now.
A new feature that really has intrigued my anticipation for this title is the new features added to low post play and player tendencies. Low post play is now similar to a game of chess with players really fighting near the basket and countering moves that the offensive player will make. Faking to the left or right and the defensive player on your back will react and try to stop you from getting to the basket. Its brings to life the methodical thought process that all great post-up players like Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Love, and Al Jefferson (to name a few players have pretty good post up skills) bring to the table when they have their backs are to basket and attempt to make a scoring move with the basketball. This is great because now you do not have to overpower players as you would in most basketball games. It more methodical and fun for both players and does not leave players stranded by themselves with no hope for defending.
While we were not shown this in the presentation, we were told that players would have their signature shots. Therefore, if you are a Dallas Mavericks fan and love Shawn Marion’s awkward yet effective shot, it will be there. We were also told that players would play just as they do in real life. An example was given in reference to LA Laker Kobe Bryant, If Bryant likes getting the ball in the post he will post up his defender and attempt to shoot over, around, or below in typical Bryant fashion. It would have been nice to see this in action but of course, time constraints limited us to what we were able to see.
Most sports games in today’s generation focus on the overall presentation and online communities that they have and look for a means for improvement. While we were unable to see the online aspect of the game, we were told that it would still require some fine-tuning, but that the stability has been improved from recent years to allow better connectivity between gamers. How will this works however, will not be known until we see more footage of the game. The presentation in this game however, has taken on a new level. Now Live 13 has ESPN integration, which allows you to experience the game as you would when you watch Sportscenter or any of the other robust shows on the ESPN network. I personally hope that someone gets Steven A. Smith and Skip Bayless in there for debates because frankly that would be hilarious and awesome all at the same time.
Lastly, NBA Live 13 showed me many things. It showed me that by treating this game as a new IP it has allowed EA to be more creative and try new things into a franchise that they were losing control of. Although, the game still needs a lot of work, they are moving into the right direction and thus might have a chance at being competitive if not better than NBA 2K 13 this fall. We will keep you posted on all the latest info as it trickles in closer to its release date. NBA Live 13 is slated for release this October on the PS3 and Xbox 360.