NBA Live 18 review
NBA Live 18 is here, after nearly a two-year hiatus. EA have brought their own basketball franchise back with a new twist. Just like Madden 18 and FIFA 17 before it, NBA Live 18 has its own story mode – The One. It also has more a RPG style element to it than the previously mentioned titles.
The One game mode is where you create your own character and try to mould him into an NBA star. There’s a few cut scenes that you have to watch. Players competing in street tournaments and having to watching those First Take segments talking about your character’s rehab from injury. It’s from here that players can get drafted.
Most of the main story is forgotten, the odd text will pop up which can be ignored so you can just play. The better you perform while out on court the more skill points you earn. You can add them into your skill tree to create your own unique style of player. This can be anything from an amazing long shot 3-point master to a dangerous dunker when you’re near the basket.
While you can play in the NBA, there is also the street leagues side of the Campaign. This all centres on competing in tournaments where the winner is first to 21 points. Your star carries over between these two modes while you progress. Add more to your skills as you reach your goal of becoming a legend. I found the street side of The One game mode to be more fun. It’s more intimate, pushing, shoving and shout-outs as you fight on court for every point.
The skill system in NBA Live 18 is really well laid out. Level up your skills and your overall rating as a player. Your players core skills are based on the play style you picked at the start. You get two at first, but there is more to unlock as you progress and spend your skill points. Unlock more items to customise your player with too. Animations for jumps, shots and clothing like your shorts and sneakers. Players abilities are separated by League and Streets and unlock as you complete various actions. Doing those same actions upgrades those abilities and they impact your game.
The game play is what you’d expect, when you are on the ball you must score enough points to win. The Shooting mechanic is a tried and tested method. Hold down the button and let go at the right moment to sink it into the net. If you’ve lined up a perfect shot, the top of your shot meter will be green. Getting that on point guarantees you nothing but net. This in theory is fine, but there’s also your players stats that come into play that can effect what happens too. No matter how solid you have the timing down, you will struggle until your player grows into a better ball player.
The opponent AI feels very strong at times and trying to get through for a good opening can be a bit of a struggle at times. If you do manage to break through, a layup is always a safer better than trying to go for the dunk. The opponent AI always seem to be in the right position to grab a rebound, where your team seems left they are just standing there wishing they were somewhere else.
When you are defending your zone and the net, it’s a mixture of good and bad. You can hold down the LT and it will assist you to stick to your assigned player. Arrows show up to help you pick the direction to try and block more effectively. It does slightly feel like you’re being led by the hand, but when it comes to the actual stealing of the ball, it’s all on you. Jumping to grab a block or rebound, it can be a bit hit and miss as well, but it is quite satisfying when you manage to block that important shot and you are on the counter for an important chance for points.
Once you have had your fill of The One game mode, you have several other game modes to get your teeth in to. You have the Ultimate Team mode, which has become the norm for EA Sports titles. There is a WNBA that has been added and has its own separate mode of play. It is worth checking out as the balance has been tweaked a little differently. The customary online modes online play and five on five online matches, have the difference of being able to use your created player.
There’s a ton of content in NBA Live 18 for basketball and NBA nuts alike. The One has all the RPG elements that you could ask for and character customisations for a more causal and laid-back play style. While the rest of the games modes offer a more intense level of gameplay, as it should be when you are playing as some of the legends in the NBA today.
So, while NBA Live 18 looks amazing thanks to the Frostbite engine that all the EA Sports titles now use. There’s no denying that there are a few rough edges. EA has nailed the feel of playing a pick-up game and having fun! It’s slightly less technical than the likes of 2Ks title, but it offers up a far better single-player experience for people who are not into online play as much.
If you can’t get enough of your basketball fix, then you will not be disappointed with NBA Live 18. If you are still unsure, check out EA Access free Trial of the game. You’ll get 10 hours of play, but after that you will definitely want more!!
NBA Live 18 checks all the right boxes for NBA and casual fans alike to have a lot of fun with. While there are some issues with certain gameplay mechanics, it’s not enough to deter you from having a blast with friends or solo.
GOG Rating: 8/10
Release Date: September 15, 2017