E3 2013 Preview: NBA Live 14 has some mad stick skills

I've been waiting to play another NBA Live game for quite some time now. So I was quite enthusiastic when I entered EA Sports' booth at this year's E3.

NBA Live 14 is coming to next-gen consoles -- the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One -- touting the EA's new Ignite engine; it takes physics in sports games to a whole new level. The focus on EA's NBA Live 14 area was on the number one thing they've been pushing: dribbling.

NBA Live 14 developer Sea O'Brien said that "dribbling hasn't been done right" in basketball games yet. And he's right. Usually, you pull off a dribble move and get stuck in the animation. Good players -- especially online -- will see your animation, know how many moves there will be in it, and then know when to make their move. They read it perfectly.

NBA Live 14 sets out to fix that. And I must say, the dribbling and ball handling is everything they say it is.

With the Ignite engine, there are over 1,000 new animation, which makes ball handling look and feel authentic. Gone is ball warping, where the ball floats across the floor because of the lack of animations. Each of the ball, hands and feet have their own physics and animations, and the ball actually leaves the ball handler's hands. What's great is that the player now has total control of the ball. The basketball will not switch hands unless directed to by the player.

Developers are going to say everything and anything to hype you up for their game. So when I got my hands on the PlayStation 4 controller they had set up for me to use at their station, I was eager to see how NBA Live 14 would perform. I'm happy to say that it's smooth, intuitive and full of possibilities. Those skilled with the analog sticks will absolutely love the new dribbling system in the NBA Live 14.

There are six inputs for dribbling, each assigned to a different "flick" of the right analog stick. Each flick is a different move, and there's absolutely no stutter or lag from the flick input to the execution. After those six dribbling inputs, if you hold down 'L' and perform flicks with the right analog stick, you get signature dribble moves of NBA stars.

Available to us was gameplay with Kyrie Irving to show off the new ball handling. Kyrie had his own six unique dribble moves, but right now there are over 40 signature sets of dribble moves in pre-alpha -- from the likes of Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony and Brandon Jennings, among others. Each of them have six unique dribble moves assigned to the flicks, with different speeds, and defenders react differently to each one from each star.

And if your sick with the stick, dedication to mastering the new system will yield some nice results. You can combo up all of the dribble moves with the right analog stick. Stuff like going from a crossover to a spin, all done real-time without a queue up of dribble moves. To me, though, the biggest deal is being able to switch the hand that the ball is in, simply by flicking left or right on the analog stick. Doing so again will give you a nice little hesitation move. And since you're not stuck in pre-set animations anymore, you can shoot the ball at anytime, keeping the defender off guard.

All of this creates a nice little back and forth between the ball handler and the defender, who has also received AI upgrades. But there will be more information on that later.

I walked away from NBA Live 14 very impressed with the little time I had with the game. EA Sports' Ignite engine is the real deal, and dribbling is everything it has been hyped to be. If the dribbling is any indication of how good the five-on-five will be, then NBA Live 14 will change the standard of basketball games for a new console generation.

NBA Live 14 will release on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. There is no release date at this time.

You can follow Senior Editor Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ. He likes talking sports, video games, movies, and the stupidity of celebrities. Email at LLiebl@GameZone.com

 
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Lance Liebl Gamer, Disney enthusiast, opinionated sports fan, movie buff, and a father of two. You can follow Lance on Twitter @Lance_GZ.
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