NBA Live 10

In gaming “NBA” has always been synonymous with fun. From the insane arcade NBA Jam to the moves to more realistic simulation the sport’s intelligence, charm and humour has appealed to gamers and sports fans alike. This year gamers are spoiled for choice with 2K’s NBA series set for a strong challenge to its title as top basketball game with EA’s NBA Live 10 hoping to improve on the impressive NBA Live 09. With last year’s entry being hailed as a turning point in the EA series, could it take the final step this year and deliver the definitive basketball experience?

Last year’s entry did one thing staggeringly well, it destroyed the robotic unrealistic gameplay which NBA Live had unknowingly made its hallmark and took a step in the direction of realism. This thankfully continues this year with increased animations letting players move more realistically and with greater fluidity. Passing is crisper this year and finding a good pass to make is now easier with your team AI making realistic darts and runs. AI in general is slightly hit and miss however, with bizarre decision making taking you back to the NBA Live of old. Nothing quite removes the illusion of you actually playing in the NBA than a player driving solo to a winning dunk only to stop and try to shoot a three pointer. Marking seems a bit unbalanced too. Whilst finding space when you are on the attack is the challenge it should be, when you are defending, your team seems to delight in leaving huge gaps around the basket and on occasion flat out abandoning their marking duties. On the whole it’s a minor complaint though, the game flows well if not a little too quickly for hardcore basketball fans’ taste and is superb fun despite the occasional AI blip.

The continual weakness of the NBA Live series however is a lack of innovation in game modes and this year is no different. Its EA Sports brethren all trail blaze their respective sports with exciting new game modes yet NBA Live does its gameplay improvements a disservice by having no headline game mode to show it off. The new game mode is Adidas Live Run which is a clan based 10 player game with full stat tracking. In its current iteration, though it feels pretty lightweight and experimental, it descends into chaos and lag very quickly: one to watch out for next season after a year of refinement. Elsewhere Dynamic Season is back letting you play current NBA games with real stats and change history, with a more comprehensive Dynamic DNA backing it up it will be interesting to see how this plays when the NBA tips off. Beyond that not much has changed, minor refinements to Dynasty Mode and the FIBA Championship Mode but nothing game changing or game breaking. The game modes are still fun and engrossing but are beginning to have the air of familiarity about them and are in dire need of some new blood.

One aspect which has improved dramatically is the general presentation and look of the game. Increased animations always look good but in addition, less plasticky looking players and improved detail combined to make a staggering looking game. On a good TV the vibrance of an NBA game really comes across with an animated crowd, bright colours and all the little details doing their bit to suck you into the game. It rounds off the package nicely and makes it a nice game to spend time with and show off to friends, something previous NBA Live titles failed to do.

It’s a massive step in the right direction and for 2010 2k Sports will be rightly nervous about what EA could unleash on the basketball world. NBA Live is playing basketball again and delivering a complete package which will stay in your console through the merit of it being a damn fun game. Purists will still find annoyances, mostly in the pacing of the game (slow it down EA!) and AI but on the court most gamers will love the more fluid style and the high quality presentation. The game is still lacking that killer game mode to blow you away, but it matters little when the rest of the game is this good. For the first time in years we have a true contender for the title of best basketball game,  and it’s the fans who will benefit most from the resulting fight for the title.







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