NBA Live 15 (XB1) Review

Full court press.

I don’t know basketball. I was recently reminded that on an episode of N4G Radio, so much so that I never knew the Seattle Supersonics were gone. Yeah, it has been that long. Still I enjoy the occasional virtual round of hoops, and since Ryan already took care of NBA 2K15, I decided to give the black sheep of sports games a try. NBA Live 15 didn’t have much to live up to. Last year’s game is still considered one of, if not the worst game on the current generation of consoles. That said, I wasn’t expecting much. Still I found myself really enjoying NBA Live 15, perhaps more than I should have, but it scratched an itch that I wasn’t aware I had.

From the outset NBA Live 15 feels vastly improved over last year’s game. The opening sequence took me through a series of drills that teaches the basics of the game. I really liked this, because as I mentioned, I am not a basketball guy. Learning crossover dribbles, alley-oops, and the more detailed mechanics of the game really helped before jumping right into a game. It did start to feel overwhelming when dragon punch-style combinations with the right stick became involved, but it did translate over into game play once I got on the court.

The visuals look great in stills.

MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: PS4, XB1
Price I’d Pay: $29.99

Next up are the visuals and presentation. Last year’s game was a mess top to bottom. EA has done an excellent job of fixing almost all of the problems. The new ESPN integration is fantastic. Players and arenas look much better than they did, although some of the animation is still extremely stiff. The halftime report is definitely the highlight as Jalen Rose breaks down individual stats and plays in an extremely realistic manner.

The on court action is also well done. I have no other way to describe it than, simply fun. I don’t know a lot about the fundamentals of basketball. The strategies behind offense and defense, but the general movement and shooting in NBA Live 15 were really enjoyable. I felt like my shots I missed were my fault, and the meter showcasing my chances of making a basket with each player is a really neat concept. I loved the cat and mouse of game of trying to get open; EA nailed that aspect of the game.

All of the modes from last year’s game make a return, most with minimal additions or upgrades. Rising Star returns, allowing players to create their own NBA star and build their legacy. Dynasty mode gets the most love with the ability to jump into any simulated game. Finally Ultimate Team makes its appearance with a new auction house. The minor improvements feel more like tweaks, but its clear what the team focused on with this year’s iteration.

Everything will be better next year right…RIGHT?

The biggest stumbling point for Live 15 is the late game AI. There were several games where I had a solid lead late in the game, only to be dominated by the computer attempting to catch up. The opposing team becomes the greatest in NBA history grabbing every rebound, nailing every three-pointer they take, and my shot accuracy drops to almost zero; every single time. It’s frustrating, and quickly drained the fun out of an otherwise solid experience.

NBA Live 15 is a nice step in the right direction, but it still falls short of its competition. It is definitely fun to play, but the late game AI and lack of any real additions or modes is sorely disappointing. I hate to be the person that always says “next year’s game should finally be great”, because this is now two years of disappointment. I don’t see EA Sports getting too many more chances to make this series great, which is a shame because competition benefits everyone.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Tutorial is great
  • On-court action is fun
  • Late game AI
  • Modes remain mostly unchanged
  • Animations are still stiff
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.