While the focus on street basketball breathes a lot of new life into this year's game, the AI errors, inconsistencies, and missing content really keep it on the bench. NBA Live 19 doubles down on the popularity of the street ball tournaments from last year, adding new courts around the globe. Players can now take their skills to courts in Paris, the Philippines, and Rio, along with other popular U.S. tourneys. Beating teams lets you add players to your squad to make your personal dream team, which you can then take into the Court Battle mode to invade other gamers' home courts. These courts have defending squads and house rules, like playing a set number of minutes in a half, a game to 11, or other details, with bragging rights and fame at stake. It's also impressive that this year, you can field mixed squads of NBA and WNBA athletes, so you can take advantage of the skills of players from both leagues. It's definitely something to see Diana Taurasi or Sue Bird get someone like Allen Iverson or Joel Embiid off balance before hitting a jump shot over their head. With players having a chance to create their own rules, you'll always face a challenge.
But the depth of the street ball game could be why the rest of the gameplay is so disappointing. For example, while you can create female basketball players, you can't take them into the WNBA with their own "League" story, so they're essentially street ball role players. Plus, the League story, if you can call it that, essentially consists of minor dialogue choices and YouTube influencers reacting to your play on the court. In many ways, it's forgettable, even if it tries to make you think that your play is catching the eye of basketball fans. Worse, there are still lots of AI issues on the court: Players will abandon many of their assignments during games for no reason. Even trap plays are half-hearted, leaving too many players unguarded. The number of over and back penalties that aren't called are just infuriating, and many players will sometimes establish themselves out of bounds during pass plays. On top of this, the commentary is seriously lacking. At times, there's dead air as plays are developing and the commentators say nothing. On the other hand, you'll hear the same phrases in virtually every game, which becomes tiresome. Even worse, nothing's been done to improve the commentary in the WNBA games, where players' names aren't even mentioned. It just feels like for every two steps forward that NBA Live 19 takes, like the expansion of street ball and more inclusion of WNBA players, the issues with the gameplay move it almost the same amount of distance backward.