After a three-year hiatus, EA Sports’ basketball franchise, NBA Live, is set to make a return not unlike a disgraced NBA superstar attempting to make a comeback to repair his image. Gamers might recall that whole NBA Elite incident of 2010 when Andrew Bynum posed like Jesus on the cross, which led to the canning of the broken game just a week before its supposed release. So bad was the taste that “Elite” left that EA has gone back to the “Live” monicker, with the franchise returning in the form of a $20 digital download for the Xbox 360 and PS3 in October.
In that span of time, the NBA 2K franchise took flight and soared like its cover boy Michael Jordan—scoring what many people deem to be the best basketball games ever, 2K11 and 2K12. With NBA 2K13 looking just as good, the question is why bother, EA? As consumers, we know all too well that the lack of competition is a bad thing.
And while we don’t expect the next Live game to steal the championship trophy from 2K or even come close to it, we can sleep well at night knowing that someone at least is trying to keep 2K on its Jordan-wearing heels.
Besides, we’re keen on seeing if this NBA Live will offer something different from the simulation-heavy gameplay of its counterpart, even if it might not be a lot. We haven’t seen much in the way of promotion and hype out of EA for this game, but here’s what we know so far.
1) The game has no specific release date but reports say that it will launch before or exactly on tip-off night for the new NBA season on October 30. NBA 2K13 meanwhile comes out on October 2.
2) The first person to hint at the news that NBA Live may be returning was none other than 2011 Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving who tweeted this in February: "In Orlando for #AllStar checking out the #FutureOfBasketball with @EASPORTSNBA. Get to see the new #NBALIVE13!" Rumors were later confirmed by EA.
3) Scott O’ Gallagher, NBA Live’s gameplay designer, has actual professional playing experience unlike most gameplay designers. He’s a point guard who’s played in such exotic locales such as Bulgaria, New Zealand, Australia to Macedonia. Will on-court experience translate to a better game? We’ll just have to wait and see.
4) The armchair jocks at sports gaming site, Operationsports.com, in their preview of an early build of the game has outlined three things that NBA Live seeks to improve on: gameplay, presentation and online.
5) Gameplay improvements focus on allowing players to have more branch-out options when executing moves. Canned animation that didn’t leave a lot of player freedom hounded NBA Live games before—a problem which EA tried to address in Elite as well. Will they get it right this time?
NEXT: Check out leaked footage of the game in action!