Coke or Pepsi? Chevy or Ford? PC or Mac? NBA Live or NBA2K? The latter has been a question gamers have argued about for nearly a decade and a half. In the beginning there was only NBA Live and it was the greatest, the undisputed champion of basketball games. It dominated from it’s launch in 1995 on Super NES and Genesis but then along came NBA2K in November of 1999 and everything changed. This Dreamcast exclusive game was like nothing we’ve ever seen before, it had a looser gameplay, authentic create a player, incredible graphics and for a few years made us all forget about NBA Live. However the Dreamcast was short lived and while 2K continued its’ titles on the PS2 and Xbox things just weren’t the same.
Basketball gamers returned to NBA Live where EA Sports really hit their stride in 2003 and 2004 with a pair of the best games of it’s existence. Once again Live was on top of the basketball gaming universe but waiting in the wings was 2K once again and with 2K6 on Xbox 360 shit just got real. When that game dropped it was simply stunning and with the 360 graphics I played the game for hours on end in my teammates dorm room. I was anxious for each release the following year to see how the game could improve. During the 2006 through 2008 period I bought 2K and Live in parallel, each year comparing the two and each time I leaned towards 2K. I finally made the decision to only go with 2K and that decision was the right one considering after NBA Live 10 the title was cancelled.
Once Live was out of the picture, 2K soared to heights we’ve never seen before. Michael Jordan endorsed the game in 2K11 something that has never been done before in video games. Michael Jordan was always folklore in gaming, never a licensed player let alone a cover athlete. 2K11 introduced a series of “Jordan Challenges” possibly the greatest video game feature since NCAA Football 2004 “College Classics”. The following year more legends were added: Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Dr. J, The Dream and many more. How could you top that? The next year Jay-Z was the executive producer of the game and added his marketing flair and in-game music playlist. There was just no stopping 2K. Rumors started to swirl that NBA Live was making a comeback but everything was very hush hush. All that was known was Kyrie Irving would be the cover athlete in all likelihood and the game would be releasing on PS4 only. The EA Sports loyalists began to come out of the woodwork and once again there would be competition in that segment of the market or so we thought.
With NBA2K14 still being a strongly hyped game on all consoles, NBA Live 14 was going to have their work cut out for them. They had a mountain to climb but instead of reaching the peak they made it half way up and fell down the mountain. The game was blasted by critics and supporters all around the globe. It was a game three years in the making but fell flat on its’ face. Some complained that the graphics were barely next-gen level (agreed), other’s complained about the gameplay (disagree) and even more complained about the uninteresting modes and lack of extra features (agreed). It was so bad that the executive producer on the game wrote a letter to the fans apologizing. It’s a tremendous black eye one that the franchise might never recover from.
So here we are in the “2015” year of both titles. NBA2K15 is another solid game, nothing too amazing compared to prior years except for the enhancements in My Player. The regular franchise and quick games are virtually the same as they have been. NBA Live 15 has made some good strides improving over last year’s debacle particularly the face scans and overall visual appearance. I’ve always liked the more fluid NBA Live gameplay more than the herky-jerky 2K that others tend to favor. Call me crazy but if you were to strip out all the added features, just give me exhibition mode I would choose NBA Live for that reason. I think NBA 2K still holds the upper hand on overall graphics but the gap is beginning to close. In overall game enjoyment and bang for your buck there is no question 2K still holds the championship belt.
Below are some images of players on both games all on the Playstation 4, who do you think did the better job?