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One sport, two games. Hayden Meikle does a quick comparison between NBA 2K18 and NBA Live 18.
Form: NBA 2K has been the leading basketball video game for close to a decade now. It has a massive fan base, including a very high profile among actual NBA players, and 2K has done a phenomenal job in recreating the sport on screen. NBA Live, well, it’s had something of a chequered past. It was the No. 1hoops game at the turn of the century, but EA Sports dropped the ball in about 2010. Relaunched as NBA Elite, the game was a complete disaster and ended up being mothballed for four years. NBA Live 15 and 16 were steady improvements, but the series has struggle to escape 2K’s shadow.
Cover: NBA 2K18 has Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving — that necessitated a bit of a design change when Irving was traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers mere weeks before the game’s release. NBA Live 18 goeswith ‘‘The Beard’’, Houston Rockets superstar James Harden.
New bits: NBA 2K18 features 17 more classic teams (including my beloved 1998-99 New York Knicks), and afeature called The Neighbourhood, a sort of virtual space where players can hang out, hook up for games and lookfor new gear. NBA Live 18brings in something called The One, a single-player career mode that similarly aims to give gamers a taste of life on and off the court, and also brings a WNBA (women’s basketball) roster to gaming for the first time.
Good bits: NBA 2K18 is a phenomenally good-looking and smooth-playing game. The core elements (dribbling, passing, shooting) are fluid, and the presentation istop-notch. Every conceivable mode is present to offer hundreds of hours of gameplay. NBA Live 18 is a lot improved on recent years. Its two core single-player modes, The One and Franchise, are a lot of fun, and Ultimate Team is a pleasant distraction. Juiced-up dribbling controls are also a delight.
Bad bits: NBA 2K18 goes all-in on micro-transactions, all but forcing you to spend more money to get decent gear for your virtual pro, and The Neighbourhood is more of a good idea than a really great addition. NBA Live 18 can feel slightly clunky next to its bigger rival, and it lacks the overall player base.
The verdict: The gap has closed — and could keep closing the next couple of years. But for now, NBA 2K18 remains king of the court.