NBA Live 18

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The EA Sports basketball series is one of the most unprofessional of the Canadian home, despite its venerable age: in fact, since 1994, it has been named NBA Live, the legacy of chases released even three years earlier for 16-bit consoles . In short, a historical saga that has been able to touch remarkable apexes, a splendor that has sharply faded from NBA Live 10, which started a slow and inexorable decay. One of the causes is certainly to be attributed to a really fierce competition, capable of raising the qualitativity of each exit; a factor that, coupled with a series of technical deficits, has contributed to lowering the popularity of Electronic Arts titles, leading to two major setbacks. The first, crucially important, was four years and ended with the return of the saga on the current generation in 2013. After some unimpressive iterations, we came to another break with NBA Live 16, the second-ever exponent of the franchise, whose modest audience response convinced developers to bring their title back to the site. After a two-year period that left almost to predict the closure of the series, Live has come back with a renewed grin: will this new episode recover the scepter of basketball simulations?

The urge to rival is always appreciable, but not enough on its own to fight a competition that relies equally on a multi-year experience to improve its product. Probably aware of this factor, EA Tiburon has focused on concreteness for this return, investing on the best things the series has offered over the years and completely absorbing its history. NBA Live 18 is a chapter with well-ground feet, excluding when he has to jump to go basketball. The first step was to retrieve and improve the Pro-Am mode of the previous chapter, a kind of prototype of a new way of considering player career mode. From this base, something even bigger, called The One, was carried out and headed by a luxury testimonial: James Harden, who with his mighty beard assumes the charismatic mentor role for the protagonist, created by the player through the editor internal or facial scan (through the companion app on the phone). This is all about the new single player career, fought between two well-acclaimed souls after a series of introductory matches, La Lega and La Strada. The first as an intuition is focused on the career of the protagonist, after being selected for the draft, in one of the teams in the US championship. The second is in fact an evolution of the Pro-Am mode, characterized by the ability to play matches with other online human players through historic playgrounds, introduced by beautiful footage rich in references and anecdotes. These include the Pacific University of Seattle, Venice Beach and the Rucker Park in New York. All are beautifully made and represent something different from the classic arenas, but The One is much more than this.

One of the most stimulating features of The One's mode is its structure and its various elements in common with a role-playing game. Our protagonist is completely customizable at the level of objectivity and skill through a rich upgrade menu, based respectively on virtual currency accumulation and experience points. All this helps to increase the level of the player, which is related to specific skills that we unlock thus progressing in the career. The coin is naturally tied to the interior shop, which offers a long series of jewelery boxes containing a randomly selected clothing item from a set. The same jerseys have a tie with the level reached, so they will not all be immediately accessible. A particular that many will appreciate is the total absence of microtransmissions in this mode: all the gains must be obtained by playing and winning the various games. Even more interesting is the fact that we have full freedom of action through the two modes, the league and the road, regardless of the progress made with our player. A system that stimulates to alternate The One mode with the others present in the game, considering the fact that there is no real story, except for the usual incipit of the young promise that aspires to celebrity. The few scriptwriting pieces are relegated to some nice curtain offered by a fictional transmission inside the game, and a series of cell phone dialogs between the protagonist and various characters, including the inevitable agent, friends and even the same Harden who she makes a good wish. These short dialogs are additionally functional to the development, giving the player the ability to choose the answer, gaining hype points or virtual coin.

The NBA Live 16 news does not stop here: for those who are not interested in investing time in The One mode, it's always the classic franchise that allows us to face the season with one of our favorite teams. Obviously all of them are at the appeal: Celtics, Lakers, Rockets, Miami Heat and Nice Company, including All-Star divisions. In this case we are managing a somewhat old fashioned way, recovered from the previous chapters and which does not offer the most appealing side of EA Sports production. To those who are linked to the Ultimate Team, a trademark inaugurated right by the Canadian home in sports productions, the same mode is dedicated to the management of virtual figurines that are functional to the creations of their dream team. In addition to those won in the game, you can win the most packed packages through a classic microtransformation system by purchasing real NBA points with real money.

The most noteworthy is the inclusion of WNBA, the basketball women's league, which is not unjustified in sports simulations and which ideally recovers the inclusion of female football already made in FIFA. Those who follow the pink championship will only be happy in half: the 12 teams and their stadiums are faithfully reproduced, including the Washington Mystics headed by Elena Delle Donne, but no dedicated competitions have been included, relegating the teams to the simple show. The WNBA stands out for a completely different gaming pace, with no fierce attack on the basket and penetration in the post but with greater dynamism and tactics. This is not very dissimilar to what is seen in the college basketball counter of Electronic Arts itself, with games where the 3-point and mid-distance shoots are rediscovered.

In the field is immediately noticeable the direction chosen by EA Sports for NBA Live 18, that of a "simcade" designed to differentiate itself from the competition and be appealing to a less-used basketball user. Gameplay is characterized by a great immediacy, thanks to a series of elements studied at table by Tiburon. The two key points are defeated and defended, the first being entrusted to the renewed bar with an ascending slider representing the path to perfect release. Catching the cursor at the apex of the bar gives us an optimal launch, but does not automatically determine the basket, as the game takes into account both individual skills, position and opponent marking. Anyway, an optimal release gives you a great chance of making a basketball, which will turn out to be absolute security in the case of free throws. The system considerably facilitates the attack phase, while for the defense the speech becomes more widespread, establishing the need for significant help from artificial intelligence.

This means that the cpu understands the best positions of our comrades so as not to leave open spaces to the attack, while relieving the task of the player, while the renewed self defense system through the left trigger allows you to make blocks without the need to calculate the jump. the system brings to a series of powerful stoppages, sometimes questionable in terms of realism, but tremendously effective and open, together with the rebounds, a completely new dimension to the controversy, numerous and spectacular. Obviously the most demanding players will break the nose, but not for this NBA Live 18 looks like an easy title. Artificial intelligence is, however, combative and responds to the disadvantages, always maintaining a balance in the score. It's a pity for a series of small defects that are now historic for the series, such as players who sometimes lose their position, being out of range at receiving a pass, or other incomprehensible behaviors, however fortunately rather rare. The numerous and inevitable sliders, which allow you to customize the game deeply, can only partially compensate for these defects.

Technically, NBA Live 18 is partly offset by a not yet complete passage to the current generation. The engine still inherits several elements from the previous chapters, among which a series of animations that can not be tied harmoniously, where competition has reached situations very close to photorealism. In a way, the passage between animation and the other is still too noticeable, having to wait for its conclusion to be able to move to the next, although the phenomenon is much lower than in the past. As far as the details are concerned, it is undoubtedly the work done by the developers, with detailed player models and beautifully constructed arenas. The audience's publicity is also great, a trademark of the series, with a dragging sound that increases in intensity based on the result of the match: the tension at the last quarter is palpable, with each basket capable of emptying the lungs of the spectators , it results in a great emotional engagement that influences every action. It is also worth mentioning the presentation, which uses the official ESPN graphics to emphasize the actions and replay, some commands from the player himself, with a mid-game interim very exhaustive. Xbox One runs at a resolution of 1080p, with a framerate almost always anchored to sixty frames per second, there is some sporadic uncertainty, but nothing worrying. Incisive and categorical is the soundtrack, featuring hip hop and trap tracks, which leave no room for pop or electro drifting, rather than linking to street basketball culture; much less exhilarating the flat, flat, crunchy, and with lots of shortage as far as the female league is concerned.

NBA Live 18 demonstrates all the will of EA Sports to relaunch a franchise that is proposed as an alternative for those looking for greater immediacy in basketball simulations. Offering a host of practical aids and solutions, even at the expense of realism, the title achieves a very entertaining gaming system, with arcade shades, but not so overly simple or banal. Artificial intelligence is combative, despite some banging too, ensuring balanced and engaging games, while the new defense system is intended to divide the audience, but will surely be appreciated by newcomers. For the rest, we find a highly successful single-player career mode, and the appreciable inclusion of the female league, an addition that, albeit mild, deserves special attention. This is the beginning of a new course that can really be very interesting.

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Good
  • Fun to play, great for neophytes
  • The One well-made
  • Female League ...
Bad
  • ... a bit too basic
  • Some problems in animations
  • Artificial intelligence is not impeccable
8.7
Great
Gameplay - 9
Graphics - 9.5
Audio - 7.5

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