For the past couple of years, the NBA Live franchise faded into obscurity, leaving the NBA2K series alone to watch over the kingdom of video game basketball and be universally acknowledged as the most finely crafted basketball experience in existence.
Now it appears EA wants another shot at the title with NBA Live 13, hoping that a blend of statistical sports wizardry and a fast-twitch engine will be enough to shake the pedestal upon which the NBA2K series rests — if not knock it off.
EA Sports views this edition of NBA Live as a brand-new IP, starting with a small team and expanding into a squad that, in their words, "eats, sleeps and dreams basketball." Many of those dreams focus on the game's ANT technology, which gives players the ability to perform actions in an instant instead of waiting for predetermined animations to finish. In theory, it's a counter to 2K's hoops offerings, which can sometimes seize control from the players in an effort to execute some of the well-developed moves within its system. The ability to move as fast as you think is essential in any sports game, but especially within the aesthetic of hoops.
Another wrinkle NBA Live 13 plans to bring is on the block. Post play has long been seen as a weakness in hoops games, and Live hopes to institute that sense of instantaneous read-and-react into the post game. The game hopes to turn each post matchup into a chess match, with defenders pushing and prodding while offensive players figure out which move to use. If a defender pushes on a player's back hard enough, the controller would vibrate and give the player on offense a cue to make a move. If you gamble, you get to watch your man take it to the rack for two.
That is, of course, if it's in the player's nature. EA Sports is touting its work with Synergy Sports, a supreme statistical engine that chronicles the tendencies of NBA players down to what type of shot they'd take in any situation. The hope is that the stats magic funneled into the game will translate into more realism on the court. If someone likes to drive to his right at the top of the key, he'll do it. If Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics shoots his patented step-back jumper at certain times in real life, then he'll probably do it in the game.
Teams as a whole will also adapt organically to what you do, so players who like to run the same stuff over and over will eventually get burned — unless they add more dimensions to their playcalling.
All this, EA hopes, will lead to a faster and more natural experience that lends itself to complete control for the players. Whether it'll be enough to nab votes away from the next iteration of NBA2K is anyone's guess.
NBA Live 13 is slated for a fall release on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
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