NBA Live is back on the power house consoles with NBA Live 10. EA Canada rings in this edition of NBA Live with Dwight Howard manning the cover art and in-game introduction. In this year's NBA Live, Dynamic Season returns along with a host of other additions, but does it stack up?
Starting up the game, players actually get a quick rundown of the new controls before loading into the menu. Shooting is a one button affair, with accuracy depending on how long players hold the button for. Players attacking the hoop while holding the Right Trigger can also go for dunks, with spinning and a few other quick moves mapped to the Right Analog Stick. On the defensive side players can steal and intercept with a single button, as well as block and rebound.
Hitting the menu screen, players are first greeted by Dynamic Season. Introduced in NBA Live 09, Dynamic Season is a mode where players take their favourite team into the 2009-2010 season. Quite literally in fact, as the player's season is kept up-to-date with the real 2009-2010 NBA season results as they happen day to day. The mode requires an online connection, and is kept dynamic as the player's team will obviously win and lose games differently compared to real life.
Next up is the simple Play Now mode, where up to four players can join in on the action. Team DNA is displayed within the team selection screen, detailing percentages for each team in areas from Pick And Roll to Cuts. Before kicking into a game players can switch up their starting lineups, play around with difficulty options, quarter length, camera views, as well as the atmosphere itself. The atmosphere can be tweaked between three settings, Season, Playoffs, and The Finals, with crowds getting progressively more crazy.
That's the first thing players will probably notice when playing NBA Live 10, the immersive atmosphere. EA has done a lot to make the experience feel like an actual, live NBA game. Fans are intense, graphics are as good as ever with real focus on lighting and animation. No more quick turning mid-run or coming to a full-stop after a gallop, the animation not only looks good, but acts realistically. All the way down to the sweat on players arms and motion in their uniforms, the players themselves hold the most detail. The crowd isn't overly good looking, but players shouldn't really focus on the crowd as they do a fine job in the peripheral during a game. Each of the stadiums look a bit different, and the constant replay shots further add to the experience.
Gameplay itself can be described quite easily as fluid. The control scheme lends itself well to the game of basketball and there really isn't much of a learning curve to get over to get into the game. Opponent AI is smart as it effectively defends, incepts passes, picks off rebounds, and sends players on the defensive. Team AI is fairly good, but the emphasis is really on the player taking control of what the team is doing, otherwise the player's opponents can easily run through player defense for easy baskets.
There's plenty of commentating to be heard during games. The commentators regularly comment on how plays go, however sometimes it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. For example, the lead commentator noted the "terrific defense" right after the player team was scored and was down seven points. Unlike some of the other sports titles EA has put out this year, don't expect any team, sport or stadium trivia in NBA Live 10, there's simply none to be had in the title. For those adapting to the new controls, or playing a basketball game for the first time, there are also extensive training modes to be found.
Other modes in the game include the new Adidas LIVE RUN, Dynasty Mode, Fiba World Championship, and another mode that allows players to skip right to the playoffs. Adidas LIVE RUN lets up to four friends customize a team, all the way down to the logo and sweatband. Once set up, players take their teams online for first-to-21-points games. Dynasty Mode should be familiar to series fans, the mode allows players to take their favourite NBA team through multiple seasons, going as far as to choose talent scouts. Fiba World Championship pits teams from different countries into an international championship between 24 different countries. In each of the non-online modes players are also given the option to actual play games as they come along, or actually simulate them, where-in the computer simulates the game automatically and simply tells the player who won. This is good for those rushing through a playoff run, but it does somewhat defeat the purpose of actually playing the game.
While the controls are easy to get accustomed too, there is a curve to mastering gameplay itself. That being said there's a huge amount of different modes to play and games to be had in NBA Live 10, there is more than enough to turn any beginner into a pro, with time. That really seems to be one of the focuses of the game, alongside doing the best it can to make matches feel like real NBA games. Overall the title does a good job at both, and but the game just doesn't feel like enough of a change from last years entry to warrant a play through for series fans. If you're new to basketball games however, you can't go wrong with picking up NBA Live 10.