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Fast Break- NBA Live 10 Review

2009 has proved to be a watershed year for Electronic Arts’ sports games.  So far, each of this season’s offerings- from Tiger Woods, NCAA Football, Madden NFL, and NHL have added significant play modes, polished presentation, and honed artificial intelligence to create a stable of unmatched diversions. Each game’s proficiency was the result of making substantial improvements on an already robust title.

One EA athletic series that has often narrowly eluded prominence has been NBA Live. Last year’s title advanced the franchise by eliminating some of the arcade-inspired leanings and rigid animation sequences that have plagued past versions. Although progress was evident, Live 09 still compared inadequately against its principal peer, NBA 2K. This year, that match is considerably closer as NBA Live 10 shows a comprehensive range of improvements.

One of the principal limitations with many basketball titles is that seasonal games can feel strikingly similar. Last year’s addition of Dynamic DNA into Live alleviated some of the uniformity from matches, and this year it’s been enhanced. Now, the system has been embedded into Dynasty mode, allowing gamers to follow teams through the season, and capitalize on players’ hot streaks. A team’s shooting percentages and driving tendencies habits will be modeling into each game, thereby altering  play style. It’s a great feature that we expect will be integrating into most sports titles.

Gamers accustomed to right-stick showboating and grinding their way through the paint will undoubtedly have to rethink their offensive tactics in Live 10. While the sporadic post shot can still send players juking past defenders with highlight-reel precision, most frequently, boorish drives will lead to turnovers. Additionally, passing has been augmented with a handful of nuances. By tapping the right bumper (R1 for PS3 owners) teammates will scramble to get open, or by holding the button down, players have direct control over the intended pass recipient.  Players can also engage freestyle passing with the left trigger, to throw a pass in one direction while moving in another, to flaunt their offensive proficiency.

While the gameplay is habitually solid, there are moments that can reveal Live 10’s seams. Players inexplicitly step out of bounds far too often and still miss ‘gimme’ shots with worrisome frequency. While the title’s mo-capped animation are especially vibrant, at times players feel locked into an excessively long sequence. Celebratory sequences help capture star’s players personalities, but gamers should be able to jettison the animation routines at will.

Both Steve Kerr’s adept color commentary, along with Marv Albert’s exuberance contribute to Live 10’s skillful sense of immersion. While each of the analysts will infrequently recycle a phrase awkwardly, hearing Albert call out an alley-oop as it’s simultaneously happening on the court can be thrilling. Likewise, Live’s visuals can be equally rousing; virtual athletes are superbly rendered, from authentic tattoos, realistic faces, and convincingly intricate uniform textures. Audiences have been given a similar devotion to detail. It’s quite amazing to see them sway, stand and beat thunder sticks together. Team and stadium specific sounds were also well integrated; I heard the Staples Center’s celebrated organ at home, while chants of “Beat L.A.” badgered me on the road.

While NBA Live 10 doesn’t quite measure up to the rest of Electronic Arts’s accomplished seasonal line-up, it’s a vast improvement over year’s past, and a worthy contender for the year’s best roundball title. With some tweaks to the game’s artificial intelligence and a resurrection of the Be a Pro mode, NBA Live 11 could easily claim next season’s MVP trophy.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

95 comments

  1. Glad to see that Liva is back on track!

  2. I just bought 2K10 today. DAMN!

  3. I thought 2K10 looked good, but that Lebron pic is crazy.

  4. Ok, enough of the sports games. I want some RPG reviews.

  5. After 06, I vowed to not buy another Live game. Maybe, I’ll go back on my word and rent this.

  6. Ok, if you had to pick one between 2K and Live, which would be be?

  7. You guys are some EA-loving fanboys. Most reviews are saying this game is just OK at best.

  8. Will they fix online game substitutions? Right now the computer always subs for you.

  9. I got both, and I’m going back and forth between each. Today it’s Live, but the way the computer strips you of the ball gets me pissed sometimes.

  10. Good review. Makes me want this game real bad.

  11. I just wish you could listen to ESPN radio while you play the game. That would be awesome.

  12. Why musyt I be broke at the start of the season. No tickets, no video games. Unless, I could win one 😉

  13. 2K owns this game so much it’s not even fun. Live is still NBA Jam is fancy clothes.

    It will never be as good as 2K.

  14. Sounds very fun. I want this game.

  15. Wow, better score than I expected!

  16. Deagle, you a Lakers fan?

    Good review, but my friend got it, and I got 2K. After seeing both, I’ll have to give it to 2K Sports.

  17. I hate hoe Steve Kerr makes himself sound like the best defense player in the history of the NBA in the game. He’s always knocking players down.

  18. I haven’t play either, but If I was in a store, I’d probably go with Live. EA’s sports games are always good.

  19. I’d give the game a C. It’s too fast, and like you said the game sometimes feels like you;re watching animations, not actually playing.

    Pass to guys and they like to step out, which is stupid. They’d ride the pine if they were caught doing that.

  20. ESPN radio isn’t at the menu? You can listen to it there. Got a computer? Listen with that.

    http://espnradio.espn.go.com/espnradio/index

  21. Good review. I cant wait to see what the DNA is like during playoffs.

  22. LIVE has the upperhand in animation. 2K has better player models.

  23. NBA Live for the win. Sorry, but 2K still has that solid feel like I’m moving a brick.

    Live has that flow in a B-ball game that I just love.

    Nice write up.

  24. Reviewer- You forgot about College Hoops. 2K owns as well.

  25. Sounds like the game is fun, but has a few flaws.

  26. Are the players still covered in fake sweat? That crap looked so weird.

  27. Neil and Ben Dover

    Both demos are on Xbox live and PSN (I think)

    Try both, and you’ll have to admit, Live rules.

  28. Whoa, NBA Live 10 looks so good.

  29. EA at the buzzer for 3!

  30. Why do people come on here just to say NBA 2K is better? Shouldn’t those comments go in the 2K review.

    Mod that crap, guys.

  31. Hey why wuz my comment removed???

  32. Good to see that Live has evened the gap with 2K. Competition is beneficial to good games.

  33. Why is EA Canada making basketball games? Shouldn’t they stick with hockey?

  34. I tried the demo and liked Live, I just dont have $60 right now.

  35. I cant stand Marv Albert. He says the same 20 things over and over, making hm perfect for a videogame.

  36. Final score 2K: 102, Live: 88

  37. I want to know how they texture map tattoos in the game. Do they take pictures of the players arms and legs?

  38. Yesss. From Downtown. He’s On Fire.

    Wait that’s been done.

  39. Glad to see another change in the dynamic system and the way you make special moves. Sounds like a descent improvement over ’09.

  40. Good review!

  41. Sounds like both hoops games are good this year.

  42. Haven’t been a big fan of basketball, but I do love playing the game with friends. Err, the video game version. Looks like a decent upgrade from last year.

  43. I got it from Gamefly today, and I have to say I’m impressed. The graphics and play calling are really good.

  44. I cant imagine what next gen is going to look play like. I’m pretty content with this.

  45. Thats so people don’t take all damn today to sub in/out.

  46. This is my favorite time of year. Sadly, I can only pick one basketball game.

  47. I’ll be honest and say I haven’t played an NBA Live game since the 90’s I think. I tried the demo and loved it, can’t wait to play the full version.

  48. Downloading the demo on PS3. Man it’s slow to DL!

  49. Wow, Live looks pretty real. I alsmost got it for the PSP. Is that version just as good?

  50. WOW, I remember playing Double Dribble…

  51. How are the stars in this game? Are the stars real. I mean hopefully pros like Kobe can pull down 50 a game.

  52. Downloading the demo right now.

  53. Nice review. I’ll try out the demo and see if it’s better than the 2K series this year.

  54. I like basketball, but I hate the shooting mechanic in games. I feel like I don’t have enough control.

  55. nice review. do keep it up!

  56. HAHA, that and NBA JAM were two of my favorite basketball games.

  57. With 2k as it is this year, I sure hope Live shapes up like it sounds.

  58. What kind of DLC is being offered this year?

  59. Good, comprehensive review. I appreciate that they’re slowly getting rid of the “arcade” hybrid style gameplay.

  60. The review sounds good, but I dread paying full price for any yearly sports game.

  61. This may be the best basketball game to date.

  62. Nice to see EA having to play catch to 2K Sports. Sounds like both games will be better for it.

  63. Cool, I loved NBA Live 09! Hopefully, this one will be just as good.

  64. Sounds like a good game. Can’t decide between this or 2k10

  65. Great review

  66. It’s also like to know this.

  67. After looking at this review. im probably going to rent this. and if its better than i thought, i might even buy it

  68. This looks like a rental as well to me. I like sports games but I can’t play them as long as my friends who can spend hours playing Madden.

  69. Awesome, would definitely get this over 2k10.

  70. Yeah, I get tired of sports games after 15 games or so. I dont think the DNA thing will change my mind.

  71. this game is prettty good

  72. Yep, EA all the way. 2K is just too damn glitchy for me.

  73. Good Review. Live looks good this year.

  74. I would have to say the NBA Live 10 is a good first step towards becoming a better game.In my opinion I think it’s better than 2k10 this year and by Live 11 I think the live series is going to become the king of basketball games.

  75. I gotta say, EA has really tightened up their game. Kiss that arcade crap goodbye. I’m really loving this game so far.

  76. I am more of an arcade sports game player. These “sim” games get more and more complex and less and less fun (IMO). On the other hand, arcade sports games can be too simple and lack depth, so it’s hard to find the perfect game.

  77. I wonder does NBA 2K10 have anything on NBA LIVE 10

  78. Very good review, played both this and 2K, have to give Live the edge this year. Solid game.

  79. I do think it plays a slightly better game, and the graphics are better.

  80. Good review, I liked NBA 2k9 last year but Live might be better this year.

  81. nice review, i might check into live this year instead of 2k

  82. Looks interesting, I might check this out. Basketball is one of the few sports games I will actually play.

  83. Thanks for review.

  84. Are there tutorials for the game?

  85. Quality review, I haven’t given the NBA Live series much of a chance considering the superiority of the NBA 2K series. Although it seems like EA is getting it together, NHL 09 ended up better than the 2K product last year.

  86. I’ve always liked the NBA 2K games. Maybe I’ll give it a try.

  87. Game looks good! Great review!

  88. NBA Live has always been my pick over the 2k series, and this article confirms all the hype once again. Long live LIVE!

  89. Might give it a try

  90. I want to win Live, I went with 2k for 2 years but its gotten repetitive and stale. Live looks superb!

  91. NBA Live 10 is giving NBA 2k a run for its money

  92. Here’s some info on the patch that is currently available for the Xbox 360. PS3 owners will receive the patch on Oct. 29th.

    GAMEPLAY ENHANCEMENTS:

    – Auto-switch to PG on defense after a made basket
    – Enabled rim stuffs. Now when you try to dunk in traffic, there’s a chance you’ll brick the dunk.
    – Tune nets to make them a bit less stiff
    – Added more variation to “get back” animations after made shots. Less “skipping” back.
    – Disabled the canned scenario steal that happens when you rip the ball from a player who is sizing up. Instead, we allow actual collision with the ball if the defender performs a steal while a ball handler is making a dribble move. Makes for a much more read and react, twitch game on defense.
    – Improved Freestyle pass animation selection to prevent guys from bursting into a sprint while passing on the move.
    – Backdown button is back. Enabled right thumbstick click to toggle between face up and backdown postures.
    – Disabled the turnaround jumpshot that would play if the shooter is facing away from the hoop when outside of 18 feet. So instead of a turnaround three, players will pivot and shoot a regular jumpshot.
    – Minor tuning to shot and layup percentages.
    – Improved responsiveness and AI’s usage of off ball cuts.
    – Stop the rebounder from running up court too early after securing a rebound
    – Improvements to reception logic, specifically square up catches
    – Improve player reaction to loose ball situations
    – Left analog passing improvements: Update analog angle metric to consider the receiver’s destination so you can lead the receiver with the pass
    – Improved the logic of when to play a standing reception vs. a moving reception based on the receiver’s momentum and position on the court.
    – Added the ability to “lockdown” perimeter ball handlers (by pressing into them) and force them into a protect dribble state.
    – Ability to shoot “runners” on demand by driving toward the basket, neutralizing the left analog stick and hitting the Shot Button. Works inside of 18 feet.
    – Improvements to user on ball defense. Made it easier to stay in front of the ball without “slipping off” when you move your left stick toward the ball handler.
    – Anti-cheese code. Prevent users from being able to take off ball control of players and run them under the hoop for the cheap pass and dunk.
    – Inbound flow improvements. Allow the inbounder to move to multiple (closer) locations along the baseline after picking up the ball.
    – User control over shot contest vs. block. Tap of the Block button will always yield a contest animation. Regular press will always jump to block.
    – Several improvements for end of game AI logic. When the AI is ahead, they’ll do a better job at recognizing time and score and use more clock. If they’re trailing, they’ll accelerate the offense.
    – Improve AI logic for p

  93. Continued:

    BUG FIXES:

    – Smooth out some of the gameplay by tuning blend times for passes as well as some various fixes for blend pops across the board.
    – Exploit fix. Fixed bug in shot calculator that would make stepback jumpshots that crossed the 3pt line have unrealistically high FG%s.
    – Fixed sliding and warping during standing rebounds
    – Addressed issue where defenders would sometimes watch the ball fall off the rim. Increase the allowable distance for a teammate to come help.
    – Player Lock fixed. AI teammates will now make decisions on their own when user is player locked off ball.
    – Put the ball handler into protect dribble if the on ball defender attempts to crowd him. Previously, the ball handler would not recognize the defender and just expose the ball.
    – “Rocket dunks” fixed. Fixed a bug that was causing dunks to speed up by 30% and added code to have dunks retain the shooter’s on-ground velocity, preserving his momentum after takeoff. Also applies to layups.
    – Various post play fixes, including the case where two guys would stand next to each other while one of them was posting up.
    – Addressed a potential exploit where it would be too easy to pass to cutters for dunks. As part of this fix, we now allow ball collisions on passes when passing into the paint.
    – AI Stagnation fixes: Ball handler would sometimes not properly pass to receivers in a play. Also, we allow the ball handler to “improvise” if we detect he’s been idling for too long.
    – Fixed an issue where sometimes an off ball cut animation wouldn’t properly settle into the correct spot.
    – Restricted the post up and under move to within 12′ of the basket. No more ridiculous up and under heaves from deep.
    – Fixed an issue where off ball post players would sometimes quickly go in and out of post battles, significantly cutting down on jitter.
    – Fix for big men waiting too long to outlet the ball after rebounding
    – Fix for fidgety box outs. They should kick in more reliably now.
    – Prevent user passes to teammates who will be out of bounds or to teammates in the backcourt after they’ve crossed the timeline.
    – Improve goaltending calls
    – Fixed ball physics for blocked layups/dunks. There was a mirroring issue that was causing the ball to shoot off in the complete opposite direction of its intended path.
    – Fixes for animation oscillation on defense (i.e. jittery movement)
    – Fixed a bug that would cause certain off ball movement animations to not mirror properly
    – Series of small fixes to prevent balls from hitting the floor during rebounds.
    – Fix for shooting fouls not properly getting called on collision layups. This will yield more realistic free throw attempts for both the user and CPU.
    – Put in a fix to mitigate the excessive turnovers inside the paint, specifically after pulling down an offensive rebound. Gives users a little mor

  94. Article was great You guys rock……I love the site.

  95. 2k10 is still the superior game for now but live is catching up. Good Article