- Buy the Game
Reviewed by Rich DeWester
or many years now, EA has released its "NBA Live" franchise to an unimpressed audience, only to get curb stomped every year by 2K Sports. Last year, EA made great strides to improve the franchise, and many loyal fans feel these changes weren’t looked upon fairly by critics; this has only added to the fanboy enmity between the two series. This year, EA aims to leave no debate over who owns the better 2010 NBA port, so get your stabbin' gloves on, kids, ‘cause someone is gonna get knifed.
"NBA Live 10's" greatest improvement is again, hands down, its AI. You really feel the steep learning curve come crushing down on you when you have the difficulty set to Superstar this year. (Try as I might, I could only muster one win at this setting.) Your no-look passes or feeble attempts to drive the lane will end only in crushing and embarrassing defeat nearly every time. The improved AI really forces you to focus on strategy, as you're forced to play smarter, and usually at a slower pace.
The graphics seem the least improved feature from last year; some character models still don't make a whole lot of sense, and they still feel stiff and awkward at times during gameplay. “Live” also suffers from a lack of balanced fluidity and control. Actually, the game is paradoxically most fluid in feel when it's doing one of its static animations and you have no control, as opposed to when you're in full control of the player. Even though EA added a fair amount of new animations across the board, the same ones still seem to pop up over and over, and the same goes for the subpar commentary. In EA’s favor, they also gave some much-needed improvement to the passing mechanics, as well as the dunk and lay-up controls.
One of the smaller, but cooler new features that caught my eye was that during the loading screen before games, you can shoot a bit in a small gym while a live ESPN feed plays in the background. The only problem I found with this is that it gets a bit choppy, but it’s still a great idea. (Speaking of features that no one will care about, Dynamic DNA has been improved from last year.) Adidas Live Run is probably the most promising new feature in "NBA Live 10." It allows you to get online with four other buddies and start a squad, and then face off against other squads. For anything other than just having fun, the mode is a still a bit shallow, since it only tracks stats, but it's a great foundation to build on.
While "NBA Live 10 fails to provide any mind-blowing new features, it does a great job of improving on the ones the franchise already had, especially with the AI. While this might not be enough to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that “Live” is better this year, it did ship a well thought-out product that doesn’t need patches in order to work properly. Things just keep looking up over there at EA. Now, if they could only put Chris Berman and Tom Jackson in "Madden"... hell, in every game.