Despite EA‚Äôs NBA Live ‚Äė10 taking huge strides forward with their b-ball franchise, it was still held back by some unpolished features. A rather unintelligent AI for your offensive team-mates and some unnecessary long loading times made the gameplay suffer despite it looking visually awesome. To keep the competition tight though, 2K Sports have also stepped up their game and NBA 2K10 could prove to be the better choice for many this season.
It‚Äôs fitting, as this title marks an impressive 10 year anniversary for the NBA 2K franchise. Last year‚Äôs NBA 2K9 struck the impressive milestone of having sold two million units worldwide. So the question is, what is it that makes 2K Sports‚Äô version more appealing?
Visually, the two games are almost neck and neck. Both EA‚Äôs and 2K Sports‚Äô titles are victims of a slightly lagging frame-rate, with EA‚Äôs NBA probably coming first in terms of presentation. Both games feature similar high-detail graphics, fluid animations and accurately rendered famous faces of NBA. But whereas EA‚Äôs title was slightly over-the-top, in NBA 2K10 a slam-dunk looks like your average slam dunk as you would see on ESPN. Also 2K‚Äôs slightly muted colour palette seemed more appealing than EA‚Äôs bold and colourful approach. NBA 2K10 just seemed to look more realistic on court.
This realism carries through to the gameplay as well. The 2K series has been renowned for a highly polished control system and with 10 years to refine it, NBA 2K10 puts this experience to great effect. The default controls of the game can seem a bit awkward for beginners but after a couple of matches should seem fairly natural. For starters, the RB is for passing, which is totally acceptable. Except the RT is used for sprinting and the combination of using both can take some practice. Like EA‚Äôs effort, 2K Sports‚Äô NBA also uses the right analogue stick for shooting and this can be a frustrating experience until players gauge how to flick their right thumb in just the right way. For those who cant be bothered, you can always use the X button as well.
While the game looks and plays that little bit better than NBA Live ‚Äô10, it doesn‚Äôt match it‚Äôs rival on the sound front. NBA 2K10 suffers from a wooden and boring commentary and lacks the crowd ambience and music soundtrack that EA managed to cram in.
While EA‚Äôs NBA Live ‚Äô10 had Dynamic DNA and an impressive career mode, 2K Sports have taken squeaky steps forward in this department as well. Called My Player, it is the first time we‚Äôve seen a career mode in a 2K NBA title so far. Treading into new territory brings its fair share of issues but at least it‚Äôs heading in the right direction. When starting My Player mode you select your position and create your own player and attempt to impress with your performance on court. However this isn‚Äôt the arcade-like experience we‚Äôve seen with EA titles and the fun factor takes to the sideline over realistic and demanding playing tactics. Your My Player is expected to move, control the ball and pass like a real NBA candidate in his chosen position. You can't get away with hogging the ball all over the court trying to make slam-dunks and the highlight reels. In fact My Player is so hardcore it couldn‚Äôt be recommended to any casual b-ball gamer without playing hours of quick-play matches first. Or perhaps doing a three-week course in basketball fundamental strategies first. Of course, for the die-hard b-ball fans, My Player will fit the bill perfectly.
Online the games are fairly even too, with EA scoring high for their usual clean and friendly menu structure. But NBA 2K10 seemed to have some more exciting features thrown into the mix including ‚ÄúCrews‚ÄĚ mode - a feature that will probably appeal to the true NBA fans. It lets you build your ideal team from any combination of My Player custom players or virtual versions of real NBA players, and then play via Xbox Live against other Crews created by others. Earning street cred with your Crew seemed to add that extra touch of rivalry to the game and this is something that NBA is all about.
2K10 also includes ‚ÄúLiving Rosters‚ÄĚ which is similar to what EA offered and updates the game with statistics from the actual NBA in real-time. It factors in player injuries, trades, lineup changes and other events from the sport taking place outside of your lounge. Thankfully this can be easily turned off as well, ie: if your favourite team is the Sacramento Kings. Of course 2K10 also includes your standard multiplayer modes too and easily keeps up with EA‚Äôs online component.
So overall it was still a close contest and this is only thanks to EA improving vastly on their NBA franchise this season. Maybe EA‚Äôs NBA Live ‚Äô11 will prove to be a harder decision but this year 2K10 wins the match with a last minute 3-pointer due to a better gameplay experience. However it is important to note that with 2K10‚Äôs ruthless difficulty and learning curve, casual sports fans might want to grab EA‚Äôs friendly and more forgiving Live 10. But all those wanting the full, balls-out NBA experience, 2K10 is the better game to buy.