Modern sports sims, because they feature of hundreds of real life athletes, often show off some of the best player models in gaming. After a year-long hiatus, NBA Live 18 has actually taken quite a step up in the graphical department when compared to the last few efforts. While there are certainly better facial recreations out there, player faces and body models look remarkably better in this year’s outing.
Cover star James Harden’s beard and hair look fantastic as do a number of stars from around the league. From LeBron James to Steph Curry, EA has done a great job of creating accurate faces for a number of the NBA’s most recognizable personalities.
On the other hand, when it comes to bench players, and the deeper that you look into your team’s roster, player models tend to suffer. Less attention is paid to some journeyman and younger players who haven’t quite made their impression on the league as of yet and left me wanting a little more when it came to the game’s graphical depth.
Story modes in video games have, for the past few years, been pioneered by the NBA 2K series. From their first adaptation of the dynamic story in 2014 to the Spike Lee directed MyCareer in 2016, they’ve always been on the cutting edge of narrative in sports titles.
So, it’s to be expected that in revamping their story mode this year, NBA Live 18 would be playing catch up. However, given the cinematic nature of FIFA’s The Journey and Madden’s Longshot modes, the NBA Live 18 career mode leaves a lot to be desired.
The lack of real, impactful choices or character building that I found in the 2-ish hours I spent with the story mode really had me feeling it was less of a cohesive narrative, and more a few video packages thrown together to give pickup games a little bit a background.
The primary way the plot’s moved along is through live action cut scenes with ESPN’s controversial screamfest First Take. While this section could have been and interesting take on sports media in a video game, it quickly became apparent that all that was happening was EA giving hosts Steven A. Smith and Max Kellerman an un-skippable few minutes to yell about how great/terrible your created player is, and see which one them can give you a headache first.
It’s worth noting that I only went through the introduction section of the story mode until my player was drafted, but based on the information that I have, I don’t feel as if anything special is coming from the rest of NBA Live’s career mode.