It is hard to believe that EA’s NBA Live franchise is now on it’s 22nd installment but it is still striving for the balance which will make it great.
NBA Live 19 has its critics, many of whom have rounded on the game and creators EA over their controversial drive for extra cash from Ultimate Team microtransactions.
But put the politics and the obvious money-making scheme to one side and what we have here is a superb basketball simulation and a massive improvement on last year’s game.
On that subject it is probably the crowning achievement of NBA Live 19 that the gameplay and modes have come such a long way in the last 12 months.
The control system is deep enough to reward dedicated players while also allowing those who favour pick up and play to be able to so with excitement and flair.
Live 19’s The One story mode is an intriguing tale which keeps the interest levels a lot better than EA’s FIFA equivalent, this time taking you around the globe on the path to greatness. But as with a number of the NBA Live releases over the years so much of the good is undone by the not-so-good.
The AI and animations let the game down just as you start to convince yourself this is The One (pardon the pun) and stop it from achieving levels of greatness reserved for 2K’s rival title.
The animation issues and random quirks (not good ones) only serve to sully the overall gaming experience just as you find yourself engrossed in the improved overall NBA universe EA has delivered this year.
One example of how quickly the gloss fades is the game’s commentary. At first it appears vastly improved and finally befitting of a sports sim on this generation of consoles. But it soon turns sour, boring and repetitive.
The excellent controls and career mode are the crowning achievements here while character creator offers plenty of scope (and females at long last!) and detail that has been missing in previous games.
It is a big step forward on last year’s effort but just gets caught travelling as the shot clock ticks down. The AI issues are the tormentor in chief, though, and hold NBA Live 19 back to being good rather than great.