It’s been years since I last played an NBA Live game. Sure, I’ve played the demos, but I have never been impressed since the series made the jump to the current generation of consoles. 2K’s NBA have simply done things better and won every year almost by default. With NBA Live 10 I think EA Sports has finally turned that corner and created a game that can compete with the 2K offering, although I am basing that on my play of last year’s NBA 2K9. It is obvious the development team has given as much time and care with making this as other EA developers have since Madden NFL 10 came out.
Both NBA games take different paths in the overall control and feel sections. With 2K they use the right analog stick to make shots while Live uses the X button to do so. Live uses the right analog stick for different moves that depends on the status your player is currently at (standing up dribbling, driving, etc.). This makes the Live series a more dynamic one in the control arena, but in past iterations that greatness has been brought down by such things as slowdown with framerate, very loose controls and overall bad AI from what I have played of them.
Since we are at Co-Optimus, we need to talk about what NBA Live 10 has in the co-op arena. The main co-op mode would be Team Play through online. You can play 5 vs. 5 online and it is pretty fun. The only minus is that you can’t play a whole season this way, just one game. These games also seem to devolve into everyone wanting to hog the ball and wanting to shoot the ball instead of actual team play. The lag isn’t so bad here, although there are times it may hop a bit. There is also the Adidas Live Run mode where you play a 5 vs. 5 game of 21. It is rather fun because you get to choose your player and records are kept for at least a month. However the brass ring in a basketball game would be the ability to play Dynasty online cooperatively (meaning having at least you and a friend doing managing/playing), which this game doesn’t give you. They’ve certainly come forward in the co-op arena, but to make it a full experience there must be a Dynasty option.
The biggest claim to fame for the NBA Live series these last two iterations has been the Dynamic DNA system. This allows you to update team rosters according to what they do in real life as you go through the season. The game does some mathematics and uses the real life stats with your in-game stats and keeps your players and team as close to real life as possible. It is an unbelievable feature in the game, but it does come with a caveat. If you happen to rent or buy this game used chances are the code for the Dynamic DNA will have already been used. You’ll have to pay $15 to get it unlocked, much like you did in Madden NFL 10 to play the Online Franchise mode if you didn’t buy the game new.
You may think you can get away with not using this feature, but you’ll never be able to download roster updates without it unlocked. The base roster that comes with the game is woefully bad and from what looks like was current as of July. In online play you’ll be able to download updates, but then once you go back to offline play the game will revert the roster back to what came with the game. It’s maddening, but it is also a deterrent to rent or buy the game used. You may get lucky and have a used one that didn’t use the code supplied in the manual, but do you really want to take that chance?
Outside of that, the game plays very well and the arena ambience is fantastic. If you play as a lower class team, don’t expect there to be a lot of people in the seats unless a high class team shows up. You’ll hear various lines from the crowd and if you play in the Playoff mode or play as a high class team, it is an experience to enjoy. There is one small problem I’ve noticed while building up my experience and that is that you have rather loose control over your player when trying to reach an exact spot to take a shot. They don’t stop on a dime like they do in the 2K game, so you can’t just stop and pop up a three or a jumper. Instead you will move forward a bit from where you were planning and not have the shot you were hoping for. Even getting the hang of the supposed inertia doesn’t help. Then again hitting threes seems a bit too easy in this game in both regular and simluated games.
NBA Live 10 is a really good game of basketball, although probably not one you want to pick up if co-op gaming is important to you. The Adidas Live Run is enjoyable and keeps score of wins and losses, but it is only a game of 21. The Team Play is enjoyable, although you can’t play through a season that way, it’s only one game. If you like playing alone, online or with a friend on the same machine this game can be quite enjoyable and is easily one of the best NBA Live experiences I’ve had since the jump to the current generation.