EA’s attempt to monopolize the sporting games
industry has mostly been met with white flags from other developers.
While sports games were once everywhere from numerous developers,
EA’s money, power and better games have wiped them off the
landscape. There are a few proud hold outs though, Virtua Tennis is
one, but mainly because EA hasn’t sunk their Scrooge McDuck worthy
amounts of cash into developing a tennis game. Pro Evolution Soccer
is another, the game that many football purists once used to vouch
for, but FIFA far outsells it and is now gaining the upper hand with
the critics too. This leaves us with the NBA 2K series, which has
held firm for ten years now. The reasons for this are apparent as
soon as the game loads. As NBA 2K10 plays a damn good game of
Let’s start with the presentation, everything is
incredibly slick and polished to an EA Sports level. The main menu
makes a very clever use of the PS3’s online capabilities, enabling
you to play any of the games that might currently be scheduled in
the NBA. Yes the main menu is very cool, yet also somewhat confusing
to non veterans of basketball games. Navigating it is also fiddly,
but once you get used to it you will find an incredibly deep set of
features. Game presentation is also top notch, playing like a real
live sports cast, complete with all the over the top American
sponsorships for insignificant details. The commentary team is also
top notch, running a decent play by play and also many other bits
and pieces regarding the teams and players. The presentation on the
whole works incredibly well in presenting an authentic game of
basketball, and an authentic feel of the industry as whole.
graphics help contribute to this as well. The fact that the game
camera for basketball games is quite zoomed in means that a lot of
attention must be paid to graphical detail. NBA 2K10 does not
disappoint in this aspect. Jerseys will flow realistically, players
will make facial expressions and hand clap after exciting plays.
They will have their arms when calling for passes and will move
realistically. The ball physics also help contribute to the
authenticity of the game. There are also lots of little touches that
help make the game feel like you are in the thick of the action.
Special mention must be made of the crowd, which is one of the best
looking in recent years. Although they seem slightly angular, the
way they behave is something to behold, they will wave pennants and
stand from their seats when exciting things happen. Touches like
these may not seem huge, but make the world of difference in making
it a realistic looking and feeling game. Of course this wouldn’t
mean much if the game didn’t follow through with its actual game.
The basketball game itself plays incredibly well.
It holds up against NBA Live and provides a tough choice for
basketball enthusiasts. If you aren’t used to the tactical aspect of
the sport and the numerous rules and fouls, they can be turned off
to enjoy a more arcade style experience. But seasoned veterans can
leave all the rules on and enjoy and incredibly fun, and incredibly
deep game of basketball. The player animations ensure that most of
the game is fluid, although there are a few situations where the
players move or behave unrealistically. Apart from that every aspect
of the sport is recreated in stunning detail. The AI team mates move
realistically to create open lanes and also respond appropriately to
your tactical switches. Sinking buckets is also handled very well,
there are no power or accuracy metres, it is all handled by
carefully watching the players motions. The same goes for free
throws, there is no gimmick, just the right reaction time. One thing
I noticed was that unless you switched the quarter length to be at
least a few minutes longer than the default five minutes, the scores
tended to veer on the low side. Apart from that the game is a very
faithful rendition of the sport itself.
Diving into the features itself is a daunting
task, as there are so many of them, but the most important ones, and
the ones that will take up most of your time are “The Association”
and “My Player”. “The Association” is NBA 2K10’s franchise mode and
therefore combines the playing of regular games with a deep
managerial mode, which includes scouting, hiring and firing staff,
developing players, conducting practices, and winning NBA titles.
The depth of this mode is quite astonishing, and rookies will find
the numerous options quite daunting. But this will be most
basketball fans bread and butter. There is a lot to do in this mode,
and once again the PS3’s online capabilities are put to good use,
with the ability to download the draft class of the next year, which
also helps to enhance the authenticity of the occasion. If the NBA
is your thing, then much time is going to be lost in Association
The other big one is “My Player”, where the
player creates their own NBA star and guides them until they become
an NBA superstar. First the customisation of the player’s appearance
must be set, so if you want a tall muscle bound freak with an
outlandish hairstyle and tattoos to match you are in luck.
Customisation is fun, but no deeper than the usual stuff you will
find in every sports game create a player modes. Then comes the fun
stuff, starting with some practice matches for your assigned NBA
team. The player is given a series of specific goals for games, such
as to hold your opponent to a certain number of baskets, or to get a
certain number of assists.
Pull these off and perform well and you
receive skill points, which are sunk back into the players
attributes. More chances to receive skill points are offered through
drills, which involve practicing various offensive and defensive
skills. Perform well enough during this training spell, and a
position with an NBA team is offered, perform under par, and the
player is relegated to the NBA D-League, where he must strive to do
well to be offered another chance at the NBA. Once again this play
mode is incredibly deep, and many hours can be wasted getting your
player to the NBA. Once in the NBA as well the fun doesn’t stop, as
more bonus points are awarded for successful play, and the chance to
make the All-Star teams and win the NBA title for your team. This
mode is also a lot of fun, and you are aided in your quest by the
NBA 2K Insider, a smooth dude in a suit who offers you advice as you
go along. Sometimes he is well implemented, yet he also can annoy
with the same comments over and over. Still it all helps make the
experience feel more complete.
Choosing to dig into the other modes also shows
some other fun things. NBA Blacktop is its own little version of NBA
Street, where the chance to play 1 on 1 ball, or even 5 on 5 is
allowed. There is also the option to take part in a Dunk Contest,
where the player completes with three others for the flashiest dunk.
These modes are fun little diversions from the depth of the game,
and are great for multiplayer fooling around. Speaking of
multiplayer the game has its own online options which are also
implemented well. There can be as many as ten players at once all
taking control of their own player, to try topple their opponents.
This means that users must play well as a team to defeat the other.
So with an incredibly polished game like this, it
is no wonder that NBA 2K10 still holds its own against EA’s
juggernaut. It wholly deserves a look, as it provides a rendition of
basketball that is faithful, slick, fun and altogether well
developed. Every department, from the presentation to the game play
shines and it would be a shame to see this one fall off the face of
the planet in the face of EA Sports pure fiscal muscle. Fortunately
for ballers, it doesn’t look like it will, as NBA 2K10 is the
definitive basketball experience this year.