‘NBA Live 18’ Demo Review: 5 things we loved about the free trial

The NBA Live 18 demo officially released on PS4 and Xbox One today, but I had an opportunity to play the early preview at EA Sports’ Redwood City, CA headquarters a week earlier.

The series didn’t release a game in 2016 after another lackluster version of the once popular franchise wasn’t well received in 2015. Armed with a new spin on its one-player career experience, EA Sports aims to start moving the franchise in the right direction. After some additional time spent playing, here are the five best things about the free demo.

In case you’re wondering if there will be a list of the five worst things, there will be. However, let’s treat this like a performance review on a job and start things off on a positive note.

NBA Live 18 Demo Review: The Depth

EA Sports delivers a pretty verbose experience in this free preview of their hoops title. The publisher/developer has to know it is fighting an uphill battle. Thus it is giving fans a pretty extensive look at their new title at no charge.

The aforementioned single-player feature is active and it is synced with the face-scan app that released a few days earlier. You’ll have a fairly accurate version of yourself to take into the game, and there are some entertaining and well-placed, real-life cutscenes that help to sell the story.

After playing an all-star contest at the Drew League and two street ball games, you unlock the ability to play traditional exhibition NBA games. You can go back and forth between The One and Play Now games so there’s more than enough to keep you occupied until the full game releases.

NBA Live 18 Demo Review: The One Concept

EA Sports

We’ve talked a bit about The One. To summarize, it’s a one-player feature that is similar to NBA 2K’s MyCareer and MyPlayer. You create a player and you’re charged with guiding his career as a street basketball and NBA player. You can upgrade his attributes and special abilities as you attempt to make him a legend on the concrete and the professional hardwood. It’s a nice spin on the sports single-player theme.

NBA Live 18 Demo Review: The Street Ball Games

EA Sports

The street ball games are the best gameplay option in the demo. It’s not perfect, and we’ll get into the specifics during the next list, but there is a definite fun factor present: You can feel the weight of your players. There’s also a variety of cool dribble moves and shots at your disposal as well.

The team component is the addictive aspect, although playing singularly against computer-controlled opponents is also fun. When you are teamed with four other human-controlled created players going against another team of five humans, you see the mode at its best. The competition can be intense.

NBA Live 18 Demo Review: The Ball handler vs. Defender Mechanic

The one thing EA Sports has done really well with its gameplay in NBA Live 18 is its balance between offense and defense in one-on-one situations. Defenders don’t feel helpless against talented ball handlers. If you are controlling a defender and you beat the man with the ball to a spot, you put yourself in a good position to stop the offensive player from scoring.

On offense, a really talented scorer has a plethora of weapons to utilize if the person with the controller understands how to access them. It’s a nice cat-and-mouse game that enhances the gaming experience.

NBA Live 18 Demo Review: The Soundtrack

Amy Harris/AP

The moment you turn on NBA Live 18 and Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA” starts blaring, it’s hard not to bob your head.

Songs along this same vibe are packed into the game’s soundtrack. Obviously, if this genre isn’t your cup of tea, your take on the soundtrack might be a little different.

Stay tuned for a list of the five worst things about the NBA Live 18 demo.

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