Saturday, November 28, 2009

NBA2K10 bests Live as best basketball sim

It’s basketball season, and of course that means new NBA games from EA Sports and 2K Sports. And it’s nice to have a little competition in hoops.

EA Sports bought an exclusive license from the NFL, essentially kicking 2K out of the video football wars.

In the basketball world, however, the companies are doing major battle.
EA Sports’ new NBA Live 10 (2.5 stars out of 4) looks better than ever. Much more than even EA’s Madden, this truly looks like a television broadcast.

The players’ models are true to size, and the game plays more realistically. In recent years, EA has been more like the old American Basketball Association (the league with the tri-colored balls): there was no defense.

Live was all about running and dunking and scoring. It was not a true simulation of the NBA. It was fun, but if you wanted true NBA style play, you had to look elsewhere.

This year, defenses are ramped up. Defenses help more and slap the ball away. If you ball hog, you’re in trouble. Shooting, though, is about a one button press – thank you.

My biggest issue was that players didn’t always act the way you’d expect: multiple players running out of bounds for no reason, something that seemed to happen frequently on inbounds passes.

EA has smartly brought back the Dynamic DNA mode that allows you to play the current NBA season with current stats. It allows you to control your own version of the current season.

So while NBA Live has made some improvements, it’s still a distant second to NBA 2K10 (3.5 stars out of 4) in about everything but looks.

The 2K guys just really seem to get sports games. 2K10 just feels, looks and plays like real basketball. Take the turbo boost button. You used to be able to press it and make your player move faster up and down the court. Now, you can still press it, but using it often will tire your player. To show how much, 2K adds a stamina bar.

If you use too much energy too quickly, you’ll have to rest that player longer than you’d hoped.

And of course, you want your star at full strength in the fourth quarter.
The NBA Today feature, similar to Dynamic DNA on Live, brings live results and matchup from the NBA to your video game world. Game stats match up with real-life stats (so long as you use Xbox Live). This, combined with “Living Rosters,” basically updates based on real-time trades and moves, and keeps your game fresh. This feature is presented by an ESPN-like NBA Insider who gives video blogs.

The My Player Mode allows you to create a player, train him and bring him up through the ranks, even potentially adding him to your team.

Ultimately, though, what is amazing about 2K10 is how real it seems. I have read about some folks having frame rate issues with the game. I did not experience that on the Xbox 360 version.

The facial expressions seem like the real thing (Kobe will jut his lower jaw out and grit his teeth in a big moment). The commentary from Kevin Harlan and Clark Kellogg and Reggie Miller seems endless and I love how when you’re on the road and doing well, you can silence the home crowd.

This is one of the best sports games of the year.

Langston Wertz Jr: 704-358-5133;;;;


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