NBA Live 16

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
NBA Live 16 Game Poster Image
Fun basketball sim fouled by bugs, gameplay flaws.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn the game of basketball, including the rules of the NBA and codes of conduct, even if the player isn't a huge fan of the sport (thanks to a mandatory tutorial and practice mode). Kids who are interested in the sport can learn common basketball terminology, on-the-court tactics, and time management. Gamers can also create a player using digital tools, outfit him with apparel, and then follow his career. The game also reinforces positive concepts such as teamwork, athleticism, and professionalism. For fans of basketball, NBA Live 16 does a decent job of presenting the sport in a way that should keep them entertained for hours.​

Positive Messages

Reinforces positive concepts such as teamwork, athleticism, tactics, city pride.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players look, move like their real-life counterparts. If they're positive role models in real life -- and most are -- arguably they're positive role models here.

Ease of Play

Simple controls; easy to learn.

Violence & Scariness

Lots of branding, advertisements on, around court, on player's apparel. This includes NBA, Spalding, Facebook, EA Sports, State Farm,, Jordan Brand, Tattoos by Randy, others. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that NBA Live 16 is the latest installment in the long-running basketball sports franchise. Players can select from one of the NBA's 30 teams and attempt to lead them to victory in either single games or through multiple championships in dynasty modes. Controls are simple to pick up, and the game features a number of tutorials to improve your handling of the players. There's loads of advertising and branding in the game and on players, such as for State Farm, EA Sports, and Spalding. Players can also be exposed to inappropriate content thanks to the unmoderated multiplayer.

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What's it about?

NBA LIVE 16 is the latest installment in the long-running EA Sports basketball franchise. The simulation gives gamers get a taste of pro ball action on the court and adds a lot more customization than in previous installments. Gamers can tweak how they look and play, especially with a new HD face-scanning app. There's also new gear to dress your player from head to toe and a new physics-based movement system for more accurate control than in previous games. Along with solo modes or side-by-side matches on the same television, NBA Live 16 also offers revamped online multiplayer through the LIVE Pro-Am and Summer Circuit modes for players to compete with friends on indoor and outdoor courts (such as Venice Beach or Rucker Park).

Is it any good?

Though this basketball game has improved over the past three years, it's still not as good as its competition. NBA Live 16 isn't a horrible game by any stretch, but its mediocrity might frustrate virtual ballers hoping for the same caliber as Madden NFL 16, FIFA 16, and NHL 16. The game does offer tighter and more responsive controls, better artificial intelligence (offensively and defensively), and greater emotion after a big play (something EA Sports has mastered with other games), but the animations are repetitive -- which breaks the all-important suspension of disbelief -- and graphic glitches cause the ball to get stuck in a player or backboard. These could possibly be fixed with a downloadable update, so here's hoping EA Sports adds it to the list.

Though the new LIVE Pro-Am modes are a blast -- five-on-five action in a number of cool venues -- other modes such as Rising Star (i.e., Be a Pro) have issues such as a finicky points system. It's also missing some features such as deeper management options. Overall, NBA Live 16 is a mixed bag. Sure, it's a step in the right direction for EA Sports, but it's incremental compared to previous games. And that might not be good enough for a $60 purchase -- especially since another basketball game does gameplay much better.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how well NBA Live 16 compares to real-world basketball. What does the game get right or wrong?

  • Discuss consumerism in sports games. Does including corporate and clothing logos add to a game's realism? Why, or why not?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports

Themes & Topics

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