EA Sports annual Basketball offering has gone live with NBA Live 10. Prepared to be schooled in this refined game of basic ball that promises to be the most authentic and realistic simulation of Basketball going. Unlike Madden, NBA Live has some competition to measure up to. Lacing up those kicks, it’s time to hit the virtual court.
Each year NBA Live tries to trump itself and this year EA Canada has achieved this goal. NBA Live 10 is an improvement over last years game even without revolutionary new features like DynamicDNA. Like EA's fellow NHL game, NBA Live 09 had the innovation, and 10 has the extra refinement and polish. Fans of NBA Live and basketball gaming in general, NBA Live 10 is one of the strongest games of the NBA Live series which makes it worth the upgrade, or first-time purchase. When it comes right down to it, NBA Live 10 is a solid basketball game that can be enjoyed at a casual level, or as a fanatical obsession.
More than DynamicDNA
The focus of this NBA Live 10 was to really switch things up from the previous three years and solidify the 5-on-5 game while improving on a few of the integrated features. The highlight of integration the “dynamic DNA” feature which has been passed on from NBA Live 09. Being able to download roster updates and up-to-date statistics is invaluable to those who follow the sport religiously. This will make more of an impact when the season starts up, making it a great time to start up your own season at home. Even if you’re not too worried about have real-time statistics in your game, you can appreciate the effort EA is putting into the game. This system has been more integrated into all aspects of NBA Live 10 from decision making to the players behaviours. This system used to be driven by the players rating, and now it’s incorporating real-life into the mix. Underneath the action this seems very impressive and it translates into the A.I. of the game making each game feel fresh.
The on-court game is where the game will be judged the most and even EA put a number of improvements that show off the dynamics within the backend of the game. The A.I. has received a lot of focus as the whole structure seems improved. In areas of decision the A.I. seems to respond better including offensive and defensive plays. This could be the dynamicDNA’s doing, or simply an improvement the old school way. Even as the A.I. has been improved I still feel like the opponents can sneak the dunks by your defense fairly easy. The attention is better focused around keeping the defense focused on the ball handler, but it really comes down to the player chipping in the most help. In all b-ball games defense is harder to learn and obviously not as rewarding as rolling up for a fancy dunk. One thing I do like is the new dynamic stumbling where players might fall down during those crazy moments huddled around the net. Again, not a big thing, just feels more real.
Flick of the Stick
Along with the help of the A.I. a few other tweaks help make the on-court action feel smoother. The controls have been refined to a certain extent with improvements made to shooting. Now you hold down one button while the triggers and analog stick controlling the dynamics of your shot. Setting up fade-away jumpers and dunks also go a lot smoother than before. "Pick & Roll" is still a big part of the game and they have been refined as well. You now have the ability to select when your screener rolls, slips, or fades. Screener tracking, transitions and illegal calls have all been redone making the game feel a lot better and opening up for some good opportunistic shots. Heading straight for the net for a one-timer dunk are becoming more and more unreasltic to pull off as NBA Live 10 requires you to step up your game and use more strategy.
Passing is has also been improved with the ability to use the free styled passing mechanic, hold down the button and flick the analog stick in the direction you want to pass, or go it old school using an icon based system. The free styled passing similar to NHL passing game feels way more natural and adaptive then the normal pass and go run around. Getting used to the free styled passing will take a little bit of work, but once you get it nailed the game feels and looks way better. This also keeps your motions a little unpredictable which will help when playing the game on the higher difficulty levels.
Oooh, Now that's How a Game Should Look
Another area that has been refined in NBA Live 10 is the presentation. It’s clear the developer has put some effort behind the look and feel of the game making it less static and more vibrant. The look tilts towards a more broadcast feel with differences between normal season games and the playoffs. Even when you’re not playing a season you will have the ability to choose the arena atmosphere between the season, playoffs, and finals. In the playoffs and finals the crowd is much more alive and intense which makes perfect sense and adds to the excitement of the game. The crowd is more intense with an attached A.I. to their code making them feel more realistic as they react to the in-game action. Another small touch which I enjoyed a great deal was watching the difference between playing an unpopular team and seeing fewer fans to arena filled when a great team plays. It’s surprising how much a crowd can boost your perception of the game and your reactions.
The graphics have also been boosted up and the players look better with a notable boost to the player models and textures. A majority of major stars seem like they have been given the once over and look better than ever. Things like tattoos and the player’s distinct body times have also been given more detail. The detail in the players reactions have also been tweaked to give a more predominate response depending on the in-game situation. Looking closer into the graphics you will be able to notice that some of the arenas have been remodelled and the lighting engine seems a little better which is an all around-observation. It’s good to see the team put some work into the graphics because it makes for a better overall package. From the last few years to this one, you can really see how the game is advancing.
Be an All-Star
The game modes in NBA Live are roughly the same and not all have improvements like the rest of the game. This is fine since the on-court action has been stepped up. For a quick overview you can hop into the Dynasty mode or FIBA World Championship. Online you can head into the Dynamic Season which pulls from the dynamicDNA feature, or you can hit up the normal ranked or unranked matches which support up to 9 players. Fantasy matches have also been added where two all-star teams can go at it for bragging rights. Online the game is smooth with some occasional lag, nothing too horrorible though. NBA Live 10 is sold all around with enough polish and modes to keep you playing "10" all year round.
NBA Live 10 is a clear upgrade from last years edition and is another step in the reclaiming the crown of king of the court. Even though NBA Live 10 doesn't have any new landmark features like NBA Live 09’s dynamicDNA, it still has enough improvements to make an impact. The new features from last year have all been upgraded and who can really argue how awesome the dynamicDNA is? The real focus in NBA Live 10 seems to be a balancing of some of the on-court issues while bumping up the presentation and graphics in the game. NBA Live 10 looks almost scary real and it’s good to see EA jump into the crowd dynamics more than before. Fans of NBA Live will have their faith renewed for a second year in a row with this improved showing. EA Sports has been burning up as of late and it seems like the NBA side of things has started its own fire. Pick up NBA Live 10, it’s worth the investment.
Gameplay:8.5, Graphics:9.0, Sound:8.0, Innovation:7.0, Mojo:8.5 Final: 8.2 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 10.20.09