NBA Live 13 Preview From E3 2012 -- Dribbling Back On To The CourtBy Jonathan Deesing - Posted Jun 07, 2012
Anyone familiar with sports games is probably familiar with the not-so-funny story of NBA Live’s demise. Struggling to compete with the stalwart NBA 2K series and met year after year with pedestrian critical and financial response, EA cancelled development for two years on future titles. In a vote of no confidence in the NBA Live name, EA rebranded their NBA basketball as NBA Elite 11 before cancelling it as well, acknowledging its shortcomings publicly.
Unfortunately, the story has continued into this year’s E3, as EA dedicated a small room and a paltry build to what may turn out to be another project that never quite gets off the ground: NBA Live 13. Full disclosure; during my hands-off first-look preview, I was only shown the opening animation of a game, followed by the first two plays. My intention isn’t to sound snarky, but to express concern about whether or not the title will actually be ready in four months.
To their credit, the team at EA Tiburon has taken on the less-than-desirable project with excitement. The studio members I spoke with mentioned that one of their goals is to create responsive gameplay with smooth animations to match. They also hope to improve the basketball IQ of AI players. One interesting feature I saw in a skeleton build of the game is the ability to change your mind at the top of a shot and pass it to another player.
From what I saw, NBA Live 13 looks and feels like standard fare, if not a serious notch below par. It’s clear in the visuals and character movements that much of the game has been built from the bottom up; no doubt the victim of a three-year hiatus. EA has made a concerted effort to improve the details in facial and shot animations, but this is not where the game suffers. Simple running and dribbling animations seem clunky and unresponsive and visually the game looks about five years out of date (except for LeBron James’ face; it looks wonderful).
Perhaps with the miracle of crunch, EA Tiburon can take a very rough pre-alpha build and turn it into a game that can compete with NBA 2K13. But I wouldn’t bet on it.