The NBA Live Revival Failed. It’s Time to Bring Back NBA Street
Ryan Bloom / Dec 15th, 2015 No Comments
NBA Live was once a great franchise. It was one of the first to make old school legends playable. It brought Michael Jordan out of retirement before Michael Jordan even came out of retirement. For more than a decade, NBA Live was held in high regard.
But since EA Sports revived the basketball franchise in 2013, it has failed to live up to its once great legacy. After three consecutive failed entries, it’s time for EA Sports to move on.
However, EA doesn’t have to abandon virtual basketball completely. Instead of attempting to create a realistic basketball sim, the developer should take the good parts of NBA Live 16 and use it to revive another of its franchises: NBA Street.
NBA Street originally released in 2001, a time when And 1 mixtapes and street-style basketball were at the height of their popularity. Channeling the arcade essence of NBA Jam and the slick ball-handling moves of street ball, NBA Street became an immediate classic. Three sequels followed, the last of which, NBA Street Homecourt, released in 2007.
The three-on-three arcade title not only involved scoring more baskets than the opposing team, but also accumulating style points to fill up a Gamebreaker meter, which could instantly change the course of a game when used.
A major element of the game was its single-player campaign mode. After creating a character, players traveled to street courts across the U.S. to take on NBA pros and fictional streetballers, adding new teammates as they advanced. Coincidentally, a game mode that debuted in NBA Live 16 provides a similar experience.
Despite all of its shortcomings, NBA Live 16 features an innovative new mode that makes it worth playing. In NBA Live Pro-Am, players can take their created baller to the streets. From facial features and hair to shoes and tattoos, there are several customization options so players can build a character in their own unique style; then take that player and join up with friends for games of five-on-five basketball with all human players.
The mode’s Summer Circuit is what represents a potential modern reimagining of NBA Street. In the online co-op mode, players can squad up with friends to tackle challenges set at some of the country’s most famous streetball courts. Teams of custom ballers travel to renowned hoop dojos such as Rucker Park, Venice Beach and Jordan Brand’s Terminal 23 to take on amateur hoopsters and NBA stars. Stop if you’ve heard this before.
While Ultimate Team doesn’t garner enough traffic to sustain itself and the basic game modes lack depth, Summer Circuit in Pro-Am shines in NBA Live 16. The uniqueness of your own created player and the competitive nature of the mode immerses players in a way that the rest of the game does not. That’s why it’s time for EA Sports to fully embrace the Summer Circuit.
Rather than continuing to putout subpar entries of a basketball sim, EA should build out NBA Live Pro-Am into a new NBA Street. The player creation, courts and professional players are already there; now strip away the realistic feeling and replace it with some slick moves and over-the-top arcade gameplay.
As currently constructed, NBA Live can’t compete in a world dominated by NBA 2K. But it doesn’t have to. Players would welcome a basketball game that’s easier to jump right into, and this niche market hasn’t been explored in several years. Now is the time to bring back NBA Street.
tags: Bring Back NBA Street , ea sports , nba live , NBA Street , opinion