See You in Court
At first glance it’s easy to be impressed with the sheer volume of features in NBA Live 10. It includes numerous single-player modes such as Season, Dynasty, Championship, and Be A Pro, in addition to mini-games and an ad-hoc multiplayer mode. What’s not so impressive is the gameplay. While it’s certainly not terrible, there are some flaws, and it just doesn’t have much to offer from previous titles in the series. The few new additions such as the Be A Pro mode has an underdeveloped feel to it, almost experimental. The bottom line is that NBA Live 10 is a sports game for a handheld, you can almost consider that a disclaimer. Also, it’s nothing we haven’t played before. And let’s face it, that’s just the nature of the beast in the handheld sports game genre.
The actual game of ball is quirky at best. The variety of features will give this game some extra replay value, but the actual core gameplay, physics, animation, and graphics, is what you’ll be dealing with in all modes. There are some problems with the A.I. as well with the control scheme. Failing to register commands is essentially an unforgivable sin. Fortunately, the unintelligent A.I. allows you to easily play catch-up for those points you feel you should be awarded. It’s definitely not the kind of compensation package that makes a good game, but if you’re a diehard hoops fan, you’ll adjust.
It appears that the problem with NBA Live 10 is that it was not developed specifically for the PSP. It’s been ported from the console version where the majority of time and energy was spent. I’m not suggesting that the console versions are necessarily better, I have only played the PS3 version for a limited time and found the controls more responsive than those on the PSP. Yeah, the graphics are better too, but the PSP has one thing over the next-gen consoles, and that’s the Be A Pro mode. It’s only available on the PSP, although as I mentioned previously, it’s not going to close the deal.
NBA Live 10 is a no-nonsense basketball sim. While there is an easy mode for beginners, there is no arcade-style mode. The inclusion of three mini-games is the closest that you’re going to get, but these are almost like practice or tutorial modes. Most of your time is going to be dedicated to the Dynasty and Season modes. You’ll put your team to the test in Season mode as you play through an entire season with the hopes of making it to the Championships. In Dynasty mode you have your work cut out for you as you build your team from scratch and rise through the ranks.
You are only responsible for one player’s career in the Be A Pro mode. Here you can control one of many famous players, or create one of your own. Whatever your choice, you will be responsible for developing that character by acquiring experience points and assigning them to various skills. It’s similar to leveling up in an RPG, or you might even think of it as customizing a vehicle in a racing game. The problem is that these upgrades are not immediately apparent, and you can’t take them for a test drive. There’s a general lack of direction in terms of stat suggestions. In such cases, it’s difficult to determine what areas you need to boost the most, so I always just try to balance things out as best as I can. Basically, speed was the only skill that was easiest to detect after a few upgrades. It’s the lack of control response that makes it difficult to gauge any improvements in accuracy with passing or shooting.
Another feature of the Be A Pro mode is the ability to control some of the other players on your team. It’s not only possible to get them to pass the ball to you, but you can also command them to shoot if they’re in position. It sounds good in theory, but there are some latency issues with commands in addition to some downright ridiculous inaccuracies such as having the ball tossed in an entirely different direction than indicated. It doesn’t happen consistently, occurring at least 20 per-cent of the time, and that’s an annoyingly big percentage. Turnovers are always a fear. They can happen from having the ball thrown directly at the opposing team or they can pick up a loose ball. Your A.I. teammates will do little to recover the ball if it’s knocked away.
The ad-hoc multiplayer mode lets you worry less about the faulty A.I. Here you can actually feel as though you’re competing in a game. For whatever reasons the command issues are less prevalent. The game actually becomes fun with another player due to the engagement with the opposing team that is not always present in the single-player mode. The gameplay is actually balanced between players, warts and all.
This isn’t a fantastic-looking game but technically it holds up well with a steady framerate, smooth animation, and a good sense of spatial depth – important when passing or shooting down the court. There are some extremely long load times between modes. I mean really annoyingly long. Announcers aren’t always on cue and they’re not always relevant. The music is forgettable and the sound effects are repetitive. The crowd response is accurate and can actually get some adrenaline pumping.
NBA Live 10 is not much of an improvement over Live 9. The numerous modes and multiplayer component don’t make up for the flawed control scheme. Best rent this game first if you think you can’t pass it up.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.4 Graphics
Good, colorful, solid graphics. Recognizable faces. Smooth animation. 2.2 Control
Control scheme is frustratingly inaccurate. Serious command issues. 2.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Sloppy audio cues. Passable music. Crowd response is good. 3.0 Play Value
Plenty of modes to keep you occupied, two-player mode is the best. 2.5 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.