EA has been dominating the realm of interactive sports for years because of their commitment to delivering all of the excitement, thrills and suspense of the actual leagues themselves. In NBA Live 10, the publisher made it their goal to capture the spectacle and emotion of professional basketball, ensuring that both veterans and newcomers will have plenty to jump into.
For those looking for instant gratification, setting up a match between any two teams is quick and easy. Jumping online for 1-on-1 versus play or 5-on-5 team play is equally painless. If you want competitive play, the Adidas Live Run system allows player squads to compete against one another for monthly rewards, while the Dynamic Season brings all of the excitement of professional basketball to the game by scheduling your match-ups to match the actual NBA schedule. Live ’10 uses something called the Dynamic DNA system to update player stats as the real season progresses, guaranteeing that the in-game avatars match their actual NBA counterpart’s performance on a daily basis. Also sweet is the inclusion of fantasy teams and dynasty play, stuffing the game with everything that a baller would need.
The controls of NBA Live ’10 are very smooth, as maneuvering everything from a single player to an entire team feels effortless. Even the clumsiest players can shoot, dunk, pick and roll without much exertion, while the more dexterous players have a number of finesse moves available for blow-bys and direct passes. I did notice some looseness to the movement when defending, but the adjustments that I had to make to accommodate this was minor. More troublesome is the game’s camera, which always follows the ball no matter what else is occurring. If a player is off-screen, it’s difficult to gauge where they are, making long passes easy against human-controlled players but nigh impossible against AI-controlled ones. Also problematic is that the game does little to settle new players into the world of Live, making it rough for rookies to play in the big leagues.
Thankfully, the multiplayer portion of NBA Live 10 is fairly meaty, making it easy for you to get in a game while also offering plenty of options. The Adidas Live Run module is a great way to enter serious competition by using player squads, which are Live’s version of clans or guilds. Aside from standard 1-on-1 play, Live ’10 also offers a 5-on-5 cooperative mode where each player controls a single position. The online play is nicely done, with stat-tracking and a rankings system that sets you up against the right opponents most of the time. NBA Live 10 also offers plenty of couch-based multiplayer options, as everything from Dynasty Mode to the Dynamic Season can be tackled offline with a buddy.
While Live ’10 is overflowing with options and modes, the game’s visual presentation tends to be hit-or-miss. Reasonably authentic player animations are offset by rigid transitions and movement, and the consistently sweaty player models are nicely detailed, but perspiration can only impress for so long. The included arenas can each be dazzling, particularly during playoff and championship games, but fan animations have far too little variety to look like a genuine crowd. Similarly, the strong audio commentary wears out its welcome once you begin to recognize a few key phrases after a few hours of play, but the booming crowd noise thrills as they excitedly react to each big play.
Improving such a long-running series is undoubtedly a difficult endeavor, but EA has delivered a lot of what makes the NBA so special. While it’s disappointing to see that the biggest improvements in NBA Live ’10 are cosmetic, you’re still getting a fun, feature-packed game of basketball with great multiplayer options and authentic season play.