NBA Live 15 Review


The NBA Live series is back for another quarter with NBA Live 15. After failing to make the playoffs last year, can EA Sports and Live 15 redeem themselves and make it all the way to the NBA Finals? Read on to find out.

Game: NBA Live 15
Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Reviewed on:


EA really dropped a clanger last year with NBA Live 14 not only from a gameplay standpoint, but also from a visual one as well. It was a mess graphically and thankfully, EA have rectified it somewhat with NBA Live 15. One thing for certain though is that NBA Live 15 while it does some things right visually, it doesn’t have the same amount of sheen and polish that we see from its competitor, NBA 2K15. Most things have been improved since last years abomination. Be it player modes, arenas, crowds and the like, it’s clear that the team in Orlando at EA Tiburon have been working on NBA Live 15 and have giving time and dedication to making it a better looking game overall.

The biggest problem though, is that although it looks nicer than Live 14, you’ll always wish that it was better. NBA 2K15 is a looker and a half and we’ve been spoilt to a point where other sports titles look poor in comparison and it’s the same here with NBA Live 15. Thats not to say that Live 15 is a bad looking game, as it isn’t, but it just doesn’t have that visual fidelity that you’d find on NBA 2K15.

Player models have been improved, but like last years game, they still look somewhat wrong in many ways due to the slenderness of the players. Someone like Russell Westbrook for example, is a slender athlete, but in NBA Live 15, he looks as though he’s not eaten a good meal in a while. While they’ve improved, hopefully they can make biggest strides in next years iteration.

NBA Live 15 has the integration of the ESPN license and it uses it extremely well. Not only does it add realism to the game from a general standpoint, its also gives it NBA Live 15 a genuine sense of watching the real-life sport with the famous ESPN NBA license on top. Jalen Rose heads up a halftime report through the ESPN license and it brings the authenticity nicely together.

The front end of NBA Live 15 (the menus) as you’d expect from an EA Sports title, are clean and modern and for the most part, easy to navigate. While 2K Sports have improved upon their menus, they still lack behind EA’s menus and their ease-of-use. For a newcomer to the sport and to the NBA video games themselves, NBA Live 15 has the more appealing menus system thats for sure.


For those that want authentic crowd chants and sounds from a specific arena, NBA Live 15 does this brilliantly. Not only do the crowds react to whats happening on-court from an animation perspective, EA Sports have also captured the essence of sheer joy and sorrow of what makes sports appealing with some brilliant audio. Crowds shout and scream their team on when you score and sigh and moan when you miss an easy lay-up and everything about it is captured just like that of a real-life NBA game. This is an area that NBA Live 15 has it nailed down when comparing it with their competition and hats off to them for that.

It’s not all perfect though within what audio we have within the game. While the crowds are extremely well done from an audio viewpoint, the commentary is miles off from being as good. Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy are respected commentators from the world of the NBA, but in NBA Live 15, they sound like they would rather be somewhere else. There is no real genuine interaction between Breen and Van Gundy and when there is, it’s so generic and it feels soulless. If I had to think of something that represented in a similar fashion to the commentary in NBA Live 15, it would be standing on a LEGO block without any shoes on. Yeah, its bloody painful.


When looking back at NBA Live 14 from last year and its first outing on the PS4 and Xbox One, it was a disaster from many angles including gameplay. NBA Live 15 has improved a lot since then, but nothing makes it standout from the crowd in all honesty and thats a problem for a game thats main essence (the gameplay) has to be nailed on. If you don’t get that right, you’re in trouble and big trouble at that.

One of the biggest problems gameplay-wise are the animations. They feel sluggish and at times, unresponsive. In my first match, when I had control of the ball, I tried to turn at a 90 degree angle only to see the player I was in control of, do a weird and stiff turn before realising the input that I had pressed a second or so before that. While it doesn’t happen all the time, for EA Sports who are renowned for their slick animations in their other sports titles, it was a bit of a shock to see this happen.

EA Sports have added a new ‘shot meter’ just like 2K Sports have in their game, but its more of a hinderance than it is something that is there to aid you. The way 2K Sports integrated their system was buy having a simple ‘one piece’ ring that adjusts to your strengths and weaknesses when shooting the ball. The difference with the system that has been integrated into NBA Live 15 is there is far too much going on with the meter to actually help you improve your shooting and more importantly, help you master what you are meant to be doing with it in the first place. In the heat of the moment and when you have players surrounding you, trying to get a perfect shot off while trying to concentrate on the cumbersome shot meter, is a bit jarring.

The first thing I noticed is just how fast the gameplay is on default in NBA Live 15. While the real-life sport of basketball is a fast and furious sport with games going back and forth, the pace of the gameplay within Live 15 is too fast and frantic. I personally feel that the frantic speed is something that adds to making the game feel frustrating and seeing you rush shots and passes. While it may sound like the gameplay is extremely poor, this isn’t the case as although it has issues and at times, some big ones, it still plays a good game of basketball and if you’re not looking for ultra-realism, then you’ll more than likely love the ‘over-the-top’ gameplay that features within NBA Live 15 that includes easy to pull off dunks that while they are fun to see, for me personally, they happen too frequently and its something I would rather not see often when looking for a video game representation of the sport.

One part of the game that needs to be toned down and more balanced is the AI. Either they are ridiculously stupid or its like seeing Michael Jordan having a 1-on-1 with a one-legged hippo. The stupid comes out when playing one of NBA Live 15’s signature modes called ‘Jordan Rising Star’ which essentially is a career mode. While you are in control of your player and setting up plays for your teammates to convert, they make ridiculous AI decisions and ultimately, mess the easy shot up. It’s extremely frustrating as 9 times out of 10, you’ll be the one getting punished for their inability to score. The other side of the coin is when the AI decides to become a cross between LeBron James and Superman and this happens against you in exhibition matches for instance, rather than when they are on your side (like I talked about above). Not only do they seem to hit shots from all angles, its hard to stop it from happening due to the controls and more so, the rigid animations.


For most gamers, there is enough within NBA Live 15 to keep you busy, but for some, a lack of improvements to some modes may be a bit of a turn-off. Aside from the Jordan Rising Star mode, Live 15 has a Dynasty mode that gives you complete control as a general manager of a team within the NBA and is very similar to that we’ve seen in NBA 2K15, MyGM. One of the biggest draws for many sports fans inside NBA Live 15 is, NBA Live Ultimate Team. The extremely popular mode is back and with a few slight improvements, will surely be one that many will love to try out on an NBA Live title. Ultimate Team is something that is ridiculously popular on FIFA and with the great direction, could become just that in NBA Live 15 as well. Live Seasons is back with new content updated on a daily basis throughout the season, BIG Moments gives you the option of replicating moments from real-world NBA games, while NBA Rewind lets you take control of whole games, letting you jump in and out when you feel like it. For those that want to do a full season, play an exhibition game or two or go online and play, its all here and if you can work around the inconsistencies with the gameplay itself, then there is more than enough to keep you busy.


While NBA Live 15 is far from perfect, its like night and day compared to the abomination from last year with Live 14. It might not be pushing 2K Sports and the NBA 2K series just yet, but the small steps are steps in the right direction for the series with more improvements next year, who knows.


I'm a huge fan of the PES, MGS and Uncharted series', and anything else in between. If you love a good gaming discussion or want to talk about anything else, then feel free to get in touch.


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