NBA Live 18 Review


Jack Berens, Coeditor

I confess my skepticism this fall when I contemplated purchasing NBA Live instead of NBA 2K as the basketball I’d play this season on my Xbox One.  I hadn’t bought NBA Live since 2009, and I’ve played its competitor Visual Concepts’s 2K series every year since then.  However, since NBA Live 18 cost 50% less than 2K18, I made up my mind and pulled the trigger on Electronic Arts’s basketball game.  It’s worth noting that NBA Live 18 was discounted for me because I subscribe to Xbox Live (Microsoft’s console online content subscription service) because of features in Madden 18.  Additionally, this year’s Madden 18 is all right, but I won’t review it.  I’ve played Madden every year since Madden 08, and nothing has really changed.  I guess that’s what happens when one company (Electronic Arts) has the exclusive to NFL video games.

Here’s a barebones review of this year’s edition of NBA Live.

Electronic Arts publishes both Madden 18 and NBA Live 18, so understandably the user-interface for the game was nearly identical.  Yet, the customization in Madden in regard to roster depth charts and player creation are not present in NBA Live.  I wanted to put Warren-alumnus and San Antonio Spurs point guard in the Spurs starting lineup so I could play as him in the game, but this isn’t possible in Live.  While Madden and 2K allow users to mix and match players on teams, this is impossible in NBA Live.  Also, the Brandon Paul figure in the game isn’t at all accurate to him – both visually and with in-game ability.  Confusingly, in Live Paul has the jump-shot ability of a backup center and looks more like Lonzo Ball than himself.  Alas, while NBA Live 18 is not comparable to 2K18 in terms of game modes, depth in general, or customizable options, it does ultimately redeem itself in gameplay and visuals.

I found NBA Live 18 to rely much more on ball physics, play-calling, and strategy rather than the heavy, recurring animations that saturate 2K18’s gameplay.  In 2K, it’s easy to just chuck up three-pointers and drive indiscriminately toward the basket and score easily.  In Live, doing this will get you in foul trouble and end up in many missed shots.  Live depends on strategic passing and ball movement on offense and constant attention on defense instead of the isolation-style basketball that dominates 2K.  The presentation and graphics in Live are also superior to 2K’s in my opinion since ESPN commentary and highlights alongside crisp visuals really bring added flavor to the game.

Concisely, while both games are pretty comparable, NBA Live 18 actually hits the mark and serves as a competitive alternative for what seems like the first time in years.  Bottom line: If you’re in the market for a NBA video game for your PS4 or Xbox One, consider buying Live especially if it’s discounted.  You won’t be disappointed.