NBA Live 19 Review – A Continually Improving Franchise

The NBA season is rapidly approaching, so that means it’s time for the latest NBA video game release season as well. The NBA Live series has hit the market running, but is it worth your time and hard earned cash?

Read on before deciding to hit the hardwood with this title.


The NBA Live franchise has been around since 1994 and originally set the bar for NBA video games. As long time fans of the series, we found ourselves broken hearted and sadly disappointed with the release of NBA Live 14, and the series has slowly been climbing back into grace since that sad release. Developer EA Tiburon issued an apology back then, and took all of the criticism to heart, creating better and better games every year since. This year’s release takes another step in the right direction.

Whether you’re new to the series or a seasoned veteran, your first stop should always be the drills section. This on-boarding feature can teach new players all of the moves and can introduce new moves to the veterans that might not have been present before. It’s also a great way to check out some new player animations and learn how to fake out defenders with moves like the “nutmeg” where you dribble behind your back, and then pass the ball between the defenders legs, and immediately grab the ball for a nice lay-up or a dunk. These one-on-one drills can help make you a better all-around baller when it comes time to take on a full game.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the drills and gameplay, it’s time to jump in and decide where you want to go. NBA Live 19 gives you quite a few options to choose from, and that’s not a bad thing. We decided to start on our road to the NBA by starting with The One and working our way to The League, and in the process unlocked some items for use in the other modes. In The One, this is basically the story mode where you’ll be a topic of discussion by the always loud Stephen A. Smith and the other talking heads of ESPN.

You start out as a 19yr old high school phenom who forgoes college and wants to jump right into the NBA 9or WNBA depending on your gender). To do this, you’ll have to make a lasting impression in a foreign country, and then take on a WNBA star and an NBA Star in court battles. Completing these battles unlocks player items for you to use in other modes, so it’s not a bad idea to at least play through the early part of The One. You can use your own likeness in the game by utilizing the returning feature Gameface HD during the create-a-player set-up, and you can create a male or female character. Our trip the the NBA didn’t take too long, and once we completed the NBA Combine game, our guy went 1st in the draft to the Phoenix Suns. Not being a fan of the Suns wasn’t that big of a problem since we could immediately as for a trade to any team in the league we wanted, so we picked Sacramento.

The mode almost seemed complete, but we never really connected to our mentor who kept texting us and trying to help us to be better players and a better person. With no real personal connection, he was just a guy on the other end of a text message. We felt more connected to the journalist that contacted us unsolicited. These text messages would lead to questions that would determine our weekly goals and would determine what type of player we wanted to become. Whether it was team oriented or completely selfish was up to us, and we could even throw our coaches under the bus if we felt so inclined. All in all, it was a fun mode to play and our path to NBA Greatness has been a lot of fun so far. We did have to work up from a bench player with minimal minutes to a full time starter, but it’s pretty easy to fast forward to your time on the court. We played well and made it to starter only 5 games into the season, so it wasn’t like we were vying for the 6th Man Award.

Gameplay itself has come a long ways since the debacle of ’14. From ’15 on, the game has grown immensely, and this year’s addition of Madden NFL’s “Real Player Motion Tech” gives the NBA players a real life look and feel. You can see Steph Curry’s style as if it’s in a real game, and players look just like their real life counterparts. Driving in for a lay-up or a dunk, you can see the fluid motion of the players and in 4k, some folks might take a double take thinking it was really a game on ESPN. The only real complaint as far as gameplay is the staleness and repetition of the announcers. EA has been pretty good about updating these audio bites dynamically throughout the season, so hopefully they’ll start adding in new soundbites quickly. Hearing about someone getting smashed in the mouth every game gets old in a hurry.

Once you decide to take a break from The League, you can head over to one of the new modes this year called Court Battles. This mode is very deep and well detailed and will have you setting up a team the AI will use to defend your home court, while you use that same line-up to try and take over other courts across the globe. It’s an interesting mode that can be a lot of fun as you take on player’s teams using special rules and player handicaps that set the tone of how a game will unfold.

One pretty cool feature is the custom court creator. Your home court doesn’t have to be a cookie cutter type court, but can be completely customized with colors and text of your choosing. Joel Embid’s custom court is just crazy, but you can create one to your liking pretty easily, with an easy to use interface that doesn’t take a rocket scientist to use. Your home court factors into several different modes, so be sure to create a unique space that says a lot about you.

Returning as always is a franchise mode where you can take a franchise from zero to hero, or just take the reigns of an already spectacular franchise. there’s also EA’s Ultimate Team if you want to open packs and build a great team to play folks online with. These teams seem to end up stacked by folks with money to burn, but a team is only as great as the person holding the controller, so as with any sports title, having a stacked team does not make one unbeatable. There’s also a Play Now mode for both the NBA and the WNBA if you are looking for a quick game to satisfy your basketball urges.

The NBA Live franchise continues to grow and excel and NBA Live 19 has turned out to be the best one yet. With authentic player motions, and incredibly lifelike graphics, you can’t go wrong with this NBA video game.


NBA Live 19 review code provided by publisher. For more information on scoring, please read: What our review scores really mean.