NBA Live 13 Preview

I recently got the chance to see NBA Live 13 in action and while the results weren't the greatest to be sure, there were some helpful tidbits of information you could gather from my initial viewing. The NBA Live 13 team showed us an early pre-alpha version of the game, which according to the Developers,  was 60% complete -- so it was a quite early version of the game which probably won't represent the final product, at least that's the theory I'm working with for now.

The main focus behind NBA Live 13 are three key building blocks which the entire game is being built around for the future: gameplay, presentation, and online.

NBA Live 13 is trying to give the user as much control as possible, with the ability to break out of any animation at any time. The team showed off a triple threat animation and a pass out of a jumper, but it wasn't anything jaw dropping to be sure. Actually, the dunks didn't look bad, but the speed of the moves and the players seemed too fast to me (more on that later).

In the post game, offensive and defensive players are independent of each other, so you will see a variety of animations down low between both players. I wish they would have showed some better examples. Instead, they showed a couple of post game moves with Durant guarding LeBron in the paint. They both banged a little and Bron branched out of it and shot a turnaround jump shot.

The animations looked robotic and not very good at all in the demo. While the overall graphics package looks pretty solid sans-animations, if the animations aren't there then the whole package falls apart quickly. It's entirely possible that this is due to the early build of the game, but what we were shown wasn't up to snuff to be sure.

In the next example, 'Bron does a drop step and the users controller starts to rumble, depending on how hard Durant is trying to push Bron away from the bucket. The controller actually rumbles more if the contact becomes more physical. When timed right, the user will be able to get the drop step and get to the rim. This animation looked a little better and the fingers actually wrapped around the rim on the dunk. Still, nothing really mind blowing here but it is what it is.

While the team showed the offensive moves, they didn't show how the defense can actually defend it. It seemed more offensive friendly, but they did say the defense has a counter for every offensive move and vice versa. Just found it strange, they didn't show any examples of it. Perhaps that is coming later?

Another new feature in Live 13 is a new partnership between EA Sports and Synergy, the official data provider to the NBA. They track all player moves and shots in a database and gives EA access to that database. The AI plays to those strengths and weaknesses, but will also learn from experiences in the game.

They showed some real life footage between the Bulls and Hornets. The footage showed how a certain play the Bulls ran, had a second option if a team defended the first, and the team tended to indicate this dynamic and realistic play depth would make it's way into the game in some form. I found it odd that they showed real life footage, instead of showing it in the game which may indicate the feature isn't fully finished just yet. The Live 13 guys claim they have the tech to make it happen, but that is about as far as they talked about it at this juncture.

ESPN is integrated with the game, so the graphics and transitions are ESPN broadcast quality. When showing the players and teams warm up, it uses the same camera angles ESPN uses during an actual game, and it will be different, depending on arena. Mo-caps were used during pre-game, substitutions, halftime and postgame routines.

Player authenticity was important to the team, as they actually spent a lot of time on each player's likeness. All player accessories have been included, as well as signature emotions from some of the top athletes, however no names were given as to which players got the extra treatment.

Online gaming is another one of the building blocks mentioned by the team and is being treated as very important. NBA LIve 13 will rely on the EA servers to keep everything going smoothly with the plan to keep user experiences fresh with new updates all season long.

Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen lead the way with their commentary in the game. While it was difficult to hear, because of some audio issues with the build we were shown, from what I did hear, it seemed fine, at least during the intros. During gameplay, the volume was turned down and I couldn't really hear anything.

During the gameplay, I noticed no off the ball player movement. I mean none. But the Developers stated they simply wanted to show off the passing, so plays were not being run. Another head scratcher to me as this made the game look a little ridiculous. They showed a signature shot from LeBron James, but it didn't look very natural to me at all. In fact, many of the animations seemed to skip frames, it just wasn't fluid. While zooming into player heads, facial hair and tattoos looked great, the gameplay was simply just not worth showing at this time. It's possible/likely this will be cleaned up before launch, but it's worth noting we simply weren't shown much to impress us on the gameplay just yet.

The game seemed too fast. Actually, it looked more arcady to me than sim. Players moved too fast and the developers stated there were no plans at this time to add a speed slider. That is not a good sign for sure. They are implementing a collision system, but they didn't show it at all. It almost seemed like they were more interested in showing off the graphics than actual gameplay.  I came away disappointed as Live 13 was actually my most anticipated game to see coming into E3. The team admitted there were some bugs within the build they displayed, but also claim the foundation has been set and the bugs we saw will be fixed.

Hopefully I get to see a more recent build in the coming months to get a more accurate preview. For now I just have to call it how I see it and the game simply wasn't ready for prime time in my initial viewing. We'll see how it shapes up in the coming months.

NBA Live 13 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 Dynastium @ 06/05/12 04:04 PM
Holy Batman
# 2 DaWolf @ 06/05/12 04:08 PM
Thx for the honest preview. Doesnt sound too good..
# 3 eko718 @ 06/05/12 04:09 PM
LMAO... more of the same it sounds like.
# 4 vln13 @ 06/05/12 04:10 PM
Finally, a preview that isn't like "I played pickup basketball with these guys and they are all so passionate about what they do (aka doing a great job at bribing me to write a nice review when the time comes)", all about gameplay! Hope you do the final OS Review!

In any case, Live is in a tough place, and I think to call it the most hyped game at E3 is off - expectations should be pretty low. One thing I hope they keep from Elite was the Career mode which seemed interesting, better than MyPlayer (or will they go with connected careers?)
# 5 bigsmallwood @ 06/05/12 04:10 PM
wow. Not what I wanted to hear about Live 13, but I will wait and see. We may be surprised as we were with Madden this year ;-)
# 6 sheredia @ 06/05/12 04:10 PM
just improve on 2k weaknesses (online play, etc.) and add some things 2k doesn't have (fiba teams/mode, maybe an olympic mode or something, and they could peak my interest......
# 7 morningstar777 @ 06/05/12 04:11 PM
Not impressed, at all.
# 8 miami01 @ 06/05/12 04:13 PM
I was really looking forward to this game as well. Dissapointed to say the least and not very optimistic about the final version being very far off of what you saw
# 9 BuddyColtrane @ 06/05/12 04:14 PM
well that sucks
# 10 Greene_Flash03 @ 06/05/12 04:14 PM
Yikes! Not looking good EA...
# 11 Ermolli @ 06/05/12 04:16 PM
I thought I could hear something positive from the gameplay but from this preview it's not promising at all. I hope EA steps up and do all they say they will do so we can have a good second choise. Besides, there needs to be a slider for speed so we could adapt the game to a more real tempo.
# 12 Super Glock @ 06/05/12 04:22 PM
Are you freaking kidding me. After nearly 2 years of development they show a build that is only 60% done and isn't that good. Unbelievable!!!
# 13 23 @ 06/05/12 04:24 PM
The NBA Live 13 team showed us an early pre-alpha version of the game, which according to the Developers, was 60% complete -- so it was a quite early version of the game which probably won't represent the final product, at least that's the theory I'm working with for now.

So my question to you is, since NBA E-Lite didnt come out, they had time to work on this, from planning to code writing... how much of an unfinish build is it when they've had all this time?
# 14 Bulls321974 @ 06/05/12 04:26 PM
One word: Ouch!
# 15 lv2bll @ 06/05/12 04:26 PM
Was really looking forward to this game. I'll be contempt as long as its a step in the right direction.
# 16 NoTiCe_O @ 06/05/12 04:30 PM
I'll get NBA Live 14
# 17 23 @ 06/05/12 04:31 PM
Actually, the dunks didn't look bad, but the speed of the moves and the players seemed too fast to me (more on that later).
This too.... its the same old NBA Live issues... wonky animations, I could provide examples im sure, but the ratings needed to be tweaked up the YING YANG to get them to not warp into super speed, like he said, as if some frames went missing in between
# 18 Muzyk23 @ 06/05/12 04:35 PM
The most disappointing thing is, from the preview, that the game seems to have the same kind of problems as past iterations. Unbelievable !!
# 19 İroke @ 06/05/12 04:36 PM
Why would they have a final product 4 months before release it? If the game ends up being bad, then we can complain about all the time they had, but right now, having an uncomplete game seems obvious to me... wether it's good or bad
# 20 noshun @ 06/05/12 04:36 PM
EA Basketball will never amount to anything other then 10 Gargamels on the count in posture and movement. New devs using the same animations and if they arent the same they are programming them the same.. I have no hope in these guys..

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