Graphics:
8.2
Gameplay:
8.7
Sound:
7.8
Control:
8.3
Replay Value:
8.9
Online Gameplay:
8.5
Overall Rating:
8.4
Publisher:
EA
Developer:
EA Canada
Number Of Players:
1-4 (10 Online)
Genre:
Sports
Release Date:
October 6, 2009


Several years ago, the NBA Live franchise was clearly laboring while the competition – the yearly offering from 2K Sports – routinely was the better option for b-ball fans. However, EA has made solid strides in the sports simulators since this new generation began and after hitting a low point back around 2005 and 2006, things have been looking up. Take NBA Live 10 for instance: while last year’s entry was a definite improvement, we get another step in the right direction from EA Canada. We’re still falling a little shy of that all-encompassing authenticity and ease of involvement that we require from stellar sports titles these days, but this latest installment still has a lot going for it. Perhaps the best part of the production is the simple fact that the player can’t get away with much (cheap tricks for easy buckets have almost disappeared), and while the AI may seem a little frustrating on the surface, it only means you need to hunker down and practice. It’s a good, realistic dichotomy.

The graphics usually aren’t the highlight in these games but as is the case with the gameplay, EA is moving in the correct direction, especially when it comes to player animations. These are almost constantly fluid and the only time we see significant faltering is during replays, when the action tends to slow to a disappointing crawl (“damn, I moved faster than that during my awesome dunk”). The character detail is another plus, as is the arena design and appeal; it’s always lively and appears to be full of actual people, rather than cardboard cutouts waving handkerchiefs all at the exact same rate. The only problem I had is that each player’s sweat still gives him this glassy or plastic-y look, which detracted from the realistic depiction. Even so, everyone moves smoothly and almost effortlessly on the court, and you’ll really appreciate those impressive animations during some of the crowd-pleasing maneuvers. It’s colorful and vibrant, with only a few minor drawbacks.

The sound doesn’t fare quite as well, although it gets a boost from the inclusion of ESPN radio. Last night, I was actually listening to the Vikings/Packers Monday Night Football game while maneuvering around the NBA Live 10 menus…how cool is that? This is only the start of the live interaction (see the DNA description below), and the addition of fitting grunts of effort, squeaks of sneakers (thankfully downplayed a little this time, so it’s not assaulting our ears) and the crowd’s impact is very much appreciated. Unfortunately, the commentary suffers due to repetition and inaccuracy. I heard the same two or three comments from Marv Albert and Steve Kerr about ten times in the first quarter alone, and many times, the statement didn’t even relate to the on-court action. It just wasn’t as on-point or as engaging as the commentary in NHL 10 , where the commentary was a major highlight and kept us coming back for more. But the soundtrack works, the effects are great, and in the end, that’s worthy of recognition.

I’m not a fan of overcomplicating the controls in sports simulators, just for the sake of becoming more realistic. I understand the need for that realism but many of the additions and features I’ve seen over the past year only caused the control to become frustrating and overly difficult. Thankfully, EA really understood people like me when setting out to make NBA Live 10 : they finally eradicated this ridiculous focus on the right analog stick to dictate just about every important movement in the game, and if you want to shoot, just press Square. Yes, you can tilt the left analog to choose the side of the hoop on which to attempt a layup, and the right analog controls special moves, but the basic gameplay is both accessible and effective. The triggers will let you set plays and even call for a specific player to come to the ball, which does indeed take some getting used to, but it’s not needlessly challenging. For the most part, you can be competitive within the first hour of playing, and that’s a definite bonus.

Changes between last year’s entry and this year’s center on the deemphasizing of post play, the closing down of lanes usually left open to special jukes, and the increased precision and accuracy of passing. Thing is – and we all have to admit this – we’re always looking for some kind of exploit; some little eccentricity that can be used to score points in bunches. Last year, you could take big men, back into the post, and dominate. You could also take quick guards, pull off a crazy spin move, and drive to the basket for an easy layup or dunk. Most all of that has been eliminated in this year’s Live effort, so don’t bother looking for unfair advantages. What you will have to do is examine the defense, look for openings and mismatches, prepare your strategy accordingly and in general, treat this experience like a real basketball game. This is the biggest benefit of this production and at no point did I feel helpless or strangely superior; I knew I had to practice, but I also knew that victory didn’t rely on poorly implemented controls and gameplay that left big gaping holes in the game’s continuity.

To enhance the authenticity even further is that DNA feature that debuted last year and is back again for all the hardcore fans. Basically, when linking up to the EA Sports server, you can download all the latest DNA information for every player in the league, as it relates to the real NBA season. In other words, if your team loses a game they shouldn’t have in real life, you can jump into NBA Live 10 , replay that match in a virtual world, and try to rectify the matter. If a player performed exceedingly well the past week, that will be reflected in his in-game persona. You can’t really say anything bad about this feature; it’s there for a purpose, and it serves that purpose faithfully. There’s also the addition of Adidas Live Run, which lets up to 10 players join up in a standard 5-on-5 match and although it doesn’t include all the intricacy of a Season or Dynasty mode, it’s still fun. Then there’s that meaty Dynasty mode, which lets you have nearly full control of your team from the start of the pre-season to the very end of the playoffs.

However, it’s not all peaches and cream. The players still do weird things on the court; i.e., stepping out of bounds, holding their backs way too often when jogging back on defense, and missing easy shots. We still have this issue where one particular shot seems impossible and this year, it’s the one where the player jumps into the defenseman when close to the hoop and then tosses up a tough shot. Yeah, it’s tough, but certain stars in the league have made a career out of making those fall. Furthermore, they may have shut things down a little too much, as the stars like LeBron and Kobe don’t feel quite enough like stars. They’re certainly better than the players around them, but it’s almost like there are two sets of players: the “good” ones, and then everyone else. In other words, the “star quality” seems a little lacking, which hampers the overall feel; I never felt like I could – theoretically – drop 50 with Kobe. No, it’s not realistic to have him drop 50 all the time, but it almost never felt possible…

On top of which, some of those fluid animations could get in the way. For instance, after executing a particularly spectacular dunk, the player will break into a seemingly unstoppable celebratory animation as he gets back on defense. Yeah, it happens in the NBA – and I hate it – but I couldn’t seem to stop it. Even when I switched to that player to make him stop, it took a few moments for him to adopt a normal defensive stance and many times, the dude he was supposed to be guarding was long gone. Lastly, it just seemed way too hard to pull down an offensive rebound; the numbers at the end of the game always showed very, very low numbers in that area, even when I went out of my way to grab them (and had the size to do it). But this is where my complaints end. For the most part, NBA Live 10 feels good, looks good, and perhaps most importantly, is entertaining. There’s also something here for everyone; you don’t have to be a hardcore fan to enjoy the game.

I mean, there’s just a tremendous amount of satisfaction that comes with the perfectly executed offensive play, or when successfully defending a tough player. I felt pretty good about myself when I was able to finally keep Steve Nash in front of me and pressure him into a turnover. Then, I noticed a major mismatch underneath the hoop, and the clean feed from Hamilton to Wallace resulted in an easy layup. I got the angle with LeBron after a quick cross over, drove towards the paint, spun towards the baseline, and elevated over a defender to finish with huge authority. Doesn’t get much better than that. And all it took was a little while getting accustomed to both the relatively simple controls and the fact that the defense wasn’t going to back down. I still think it was too easy to lose the ball during the execution of special moves and the foul shot mechanic didn’t work extremely well (good luck getting it in with the poor shooters), but I entered each match with a smile and set determination. Close games can be very tense!

I don’t know how 2K stacks up this year, but EA has definitely provided us with a basketball simulator that delivers on most levels and only falls short in minor areas that won’t significantly affect your enjoyment. Give it a shot…pun intended.

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Shadow_Ninja
Shadow_Ninja
11 years ago

hey ben,
will we be receiving a review for operation flashpoint 2?

HAMCHUNKS
HAMCHUNKS
11 years ago

yeah i never really heard of OFP but i would give it a try if its better than MW2
i h8 MW2 too arcady for me but ill still buy cuz my friends will be on it 🙁

Shadow_Ninja
Shadow_Ninja
11 years ago

im getting mw2, i loved the first one, im sure i'll love the second. im sure you'll end up liking it.

HAMCHUNKS
HAMCHUNKS
11 years ago

naw im pretty sure ill be neutual towards it
probaly beat it in da face everytime i see it or pop it in my ps3 just like u would a step child lol jk

HAMCHUNKS
HAMCHUNKS
11 years ago

Hey BEN,
im still waiting for the UNCHARTED 2 REVIEW
r going to review after most of us have already bought?
lol try and pick it up from a 7-11 like a week early cuz i would love to hear ur opions

oh and i h8 basket ball, i suck at it
but not football, or tennis lol

Shadow_Ninja
Shadow_Ninja
11 years ago

by football you mean american?

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

Uncharted 2 review coming very soon…

Naga
Naga
11 years ago

No need its a 9.5

www
www
11 years ago

Its a 10!

Alienange
Alienange
11 years ago

wow … EA is on fire!

HAMCHUNKS
HAMCHUNKS
11 years ago

on fire with a 8.4?

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

Yeah? so. Where's NBA Jam this generation?

JDC80
JDC80
11 years ago

NBA Street.

JDC80
JDC80
11 years ago

This is on my wish list for Christmas, I'm still ticked off at EA for taking out draft import from NBA Live.

Hexen
Hexen
11 years ago

I really want a basketball game (I have yet to buy one this gen)but I'm still not totally sold on NBA Live.I'll wait for the 2K review and pick the best out of the two.

a1_
a1_
11 years ago

just got 2k 10 after trading in live 10 for it. 2k basketball games are so much better this years 2k10 is just amazing compared to live its night and day… live is trash 2k 10 is off the charts.. i got madden fifa and fight night by ea and those are awesome but basketball… no way jose 2k got that one easy. do not waste your money on live if u want a full basketball simulation experience get nba2k10

Wage SLAVES
Wage SLAVES
11 years ago

Its been a while since I've had a sports game. Ben I don't know if you will play it but EA vs 2K? Basketball is my favorite sport and it been a while since I've had a sports game so…just wondering which you'd prefer.


Last edited by Wage SLAVES on 10/7/2009 12:05:02 AM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

I do plan on comparing this to 2K, as I did with the hockey games.

___________
___________
11 years ago

ben are you going to do a review for saw?
its not being released here and im wondering if i should import it or not.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

I'll try but it's not high on my priority list.

a1_
a1_
11 years ago

NBA 2K 10 is the way to go, trust me, its a far better game than Live, completely kills and blows live out of the water. And I am currently playing SAW, on a cigarette brake… And let me tell you SAW is pretty damn fun, I actually love it. Puzzles, Blood, Mysterious sicrets, constant fear.. very nice game, i love it. Cant wait to try flash point tomorrow when it comes out, and then of course the rest of the month is reserved for Uncharted 2 following by a whole season of Assassins Creed 2, Modern Warfare 2, Saboteur, Splinter Cell Conviction etc… omfg this year is going to be great… too many titles and i am playing them all.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

We heard you the first time. And so far, the critics don't agree that Live is just crap.

a1_
a1_
11 years ago

i wasnt only speaking about live i also mentioned other games in the second post, mr. "i live on the internet". live is not crap. it is just at the same level as it was the last couple of years… and thats way below 2k basketball. so boooo take a L and sit down

a1_
a1_
11 years ago

IGN "So there you have it. Despite a solid effort on the part of EA this year, NBA 2K10 wins our Grudge Match. But what do you think? Which NBA game deserves to walk away with the title this year? Sound off in the comments section with your thoughts, and don't forget to vote in our poll at the top of the page." and trust me every other CREDIBLE site has the same opinion on this matter. you know nothing about sports games, Crash series for ps1 and ps2 mayube, sonic the hedgehog, i suppose, but nba or any other real sport/simulation or action game for that matter you have a tendency of giving crap a good review just because the developer sent u guys free copies. ive been reading this site for quite some time so believe me i know what u're all about by now and im not knocking u cuz i would love some freebies. u have good news and features here but if the public wants honest reviews then this definitely is not the place. u ran this site for a while but now that the games and electronics begin costing more money due to the technology you guys are becoming freebie whores and that aint cool. i liked it back when it was honest posting instead of crap like this that makes no sense. nba live stopped being relevant the day xbox 360 came out and 2k took over. period. why dony you review 2k10? let me guess, they didnt send you a free limited edition anniversary copy with s kobe bryans action figure to make u feel special? booo hoo. ign, joystiq, ps3fanboy, gamespy, n4g etc.. real reviews, real people, real gaming sites. and dont go all propaganda/nazi on me just because this is the only place in your entire life you have some sort of virtual authority in… i smatri za svois rtom loshok ne but slishkom ymnim, ploxo dlya zdoroviya.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

Yeah, I knew I recognized the name. Banned you before for calling people names and acting like a child. Your post history is full of "moron," "retard," etc.

You know nothing about what we do. EA sends us the games to review, and so does 2K. I also didn't say 2K wasn't better; you said it was trash and then tried to take it back.

Last warning. But I have a feeling you'll just disregard it and I'll end up banning you again. Your choice.


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 10/7/2009 10:21:03 AM

Hexen
Hexen
11 years ago

I see steak sauce is back to his usual antics.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

What an effing douchebag, the big sites are the spoiled brats, PSXE is all about real people, real community. If you don't like it then there's nobody keeping you here.

HAMCHUNKS
HAMCHUNKS
11 years ago

hey BEN i keep having trouble with my account thumbing up ppl
maybe u could get someone on dat i would luv to show my love to ur every post on da forums lol 🙂

Naga
Naga
11 years ago

Its still another sports game that ain't worth full price 6/10

www
www
11 years ago

Now the Fifa 10 Review?

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

Also coming soon.

___________
___________
11 years ago

i read the first ratchet and clank review today from the aussie edition of PSM3.
and even they think this is going to be the last R&C game.

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