Like the turning of the seasons, so we come to expect annual iterations of certain sports titles on our sales shelves. 2K Game’s NBA 2K10 goes up against close rival, Electronic Art’s NBA Live 10 this year. Each game will have its devotees, but what about those of us looking for a Basketball video game for the first time? How do we decide which of these we will enjoy the most? Read on for the noob’s guide to shooting some virtual hoops. Or as I like to call it Noob Hoops.
Almost simultaneously 2K Games and Electronic Arts have dribbled out an update to their basketball series in time for the NBA season in the U.S. Both have strengths and weaknesses, but honestly, the difference will be important only to a small percentage of fans, for the rest of us, here are the matchups.
Graphics: The all important first impressions, both games look fantastic, with only somewhat stilted motion capture in evidence. Players, officials, coaching staff, dynamic crowds, wonderfully presented and individualised arenas (complete with distracting floor reflections) are all rendered with obvious care and attention to the personalities involved. Animations in particular exude personality.
NBA 2K10 has the edge in realism, but somehow NBA Live 10 and its brighter palette is ultimately more pleasing to the gaming eye, thus nudging the 2K Sports contender off the graphical podium. Win to NBA Live 10
Game Play: There are plenty of modes on offer, but once you are on the court, whether in single or multi player it is difficult (again) to distinguish between the offerings. Both games sport similar controls, but on offensive NBA Live 10 wins out with passing options; freestyle, Alley-oop, and off ball direct player controls whilst NBA 2K10 feels like a better, more rounded game on defence. Players will need to stick close to their assigned opponent, positioning and avoiding the AI set screens in the process.
Just like my real-world basketball career, occasionally on screen player avatars will get the wrong signal, launching an impossible shot from the back court, or passing wildly out of bounds. The in-game commentators are quick to point out these brain fades, much to the delight of any friends that may be in the room with me.
After the final pool of sweat is mopped from the boards, it is pretty much impossible to split these titles on game play alone. Important as it may be, players crossing the paint for the first time will have an equal experience with the basic game on offer from both camps.
In game coaching is one point where NBA Live 10 trumps the rival title, substitutions and match-ups being easier to control with the AI taking control of your team during the selection process. This is close enough to call a draw on the Game Play front.
Customisations: 2K10 utilises the My Player Mode, giving the career mode a more personable touch by allowing players to design their own future star, running him through the Summer Circuit as an undrafted rookie, with the aim of reaching a NBA team camp. This grass roots system will appeal too many, whilst NBA Live 10 utilises the player customisation in the team management section of the game only. Win to 2K10
Options, Frills and Features: This section is again, just too close to call. Both games have an extensive series of menus, the EA game suffering slightly from EA Sports Franchise Menu Syndrome. For the EA game, these menus direct player to Dynasty Mode, FIBA World Championship (going up against 24 international teams), launch straight into the NBA Playoffs or a Dynamic Season using, what EA terms as Dynamic DNA to jump into any current NBA game with the teams as they are today. The results of these games are merged with real stats and scores taken from the NBA season to produce an outcome that you can control. The more games you play, the more the “real” NBA season is massaged.
Dynamic DNA is a nifty gimmick, one prone to abuse, but fun for NBA fans who want further immersion in their sport.
NBA Live 10 also features broader appeal; commentators reference real-life stats and league happenings as well as the in-menu sports radio feature giving sporting headlines from, not only the NBA, but other US centric sports.
The post game highlights are a little bland, being devoid of commentary, the in-game video tutorials on the other hand are a dynamic way to get complex play options across to new comers.
On the NBA 2K10 side, players can explore a wide roster of current, all-star, international and great teams of past decades.
The 2K Sports Service offers a similar current roster system to the EA game. It also boasts superior online capabilities, allowing players to join up with friends at any time for a game with your created crew, or compete in a 3-point shootout, Dunk contest and other challenges.
All up this category win would go to NBA 2K10, but only by the slimmest of smidges.
Finally it is the Noob Factor: 2K Sports has gone out of its way to bring an engrossing professional, option filled NBA experience to video-game land, whilst EA’s NBA Live 10 edges a little more towards the accessibility side of the scale.
Both games will offer opportunities for depth of play with a bit of exploration and experimentation. There is plenty basketbally action here, but in this head to head match-up for folks venturing into video-game net action, the Electronic Arts NBA Live 10 edges out 2K Sports NBA 2K10 with a three pointer on the buzzer.
[Ed:: While the comments below reference both games, the score is only for NBA LIVE 10, for NBA 2K10's score, click through to the sister review.