NBA Live 10
- 07 July, 2018
- By Admin: Frederick Wilson
- Comments: 00
The once glorious NBA Live franchise has been anything but over the past few years. Its entry into the current gaming generation – unlike its brother in FIFA Soccer – has been far from spectacular, with the team over at EA Canada struggling to create a consistent and solid basketball gaming experience. While the series has improved every year since the disastrous NBA Live 06 on XBOX 360, it got to a point where drastic change was needed before the series’ closest competitor in the NBA 2K series moved too far ahead. Thankfully, NBA Live 10 is that drastic change. While it’s not without its problems, it’s the most original NBA Live game in years and one that should please the series’ fanboys.
EA Canada made it known that the number one focus for NBA Live 10 was the gameplay. It’s not that gamers really needed to know that anyway, as it’s pretty much assumed that any developer for a sports title would be focusing on the gameplay as the main focus rather than the features. Furthermore, we’ve heard it all before: “this year will be different”, “this year will be better”. It’s a great feeling to actually see those quotes executed within the game. NBA Live 10 is different and it is better. Yet in the game being so different lays many of its problems. EA Canada have taken away a lot of the accessibility of the game to make it feel like more of a basketball sim, and in doing that, they may lose a lot of the core NBA Live fanbase. The NBA 2K series hasn’t always been the way it is now. It was originally an NBA Live clone with a few different button configurations. It made the move into complexity and tactical gameplay years ago, while NBA Live was left to linger and drown in its form.
The most notable change to the gameplay is the move to a one-button shooting system, rather than the old (and rather outdated) shoot and dunk buttons. The use of the right trigger and the direction of the analog stick influence how the controlled player shoots the ball, and this is mostly important when under the ring. If you merely hit the shoot button without directing the player, they’ll just do a lay-up no matter how tall they are or how high their dunk rating is. This can lead to a bit of frustration, as a player like Dwayne Wade shouldn’t be throwing the ball up against the backboard when he’s alone under the ring. He should be slamming it down like a can of Solo.
On a whole though, the move to this shooting system does work out for the better. For one, if you accidentally hit the shoot button when far away from the ring, the player won’t throw up the ball wildly like they used to when you tapped the dunk button in previous years. There was also the occasional problem of being on defense and taping the shoot or dunk button a split second before the ball fell into your players hands. This would lead to them throwing up a full-court short and eventually giving up the ball. EA knew this was a problem as they even worked it into the commentary a few years ago. If you’ve played a lot of NBA Live you’ll have experienced this problem, and it’s quite evidently not present in this year’s experience, which is fantastic.
There’s a far bigger emphasis on defense, and this is where a lot of the franchise’s well-known accessibility loses some of its charm. Put simply, NBA Live 10 punishes you for rushed gameplay. If you think you mastered NBA Live 09 on All-star and Superstar, be prepared for a very rude awakening. Not only is the opponent AI tougher and more aggressive on the offensive end, but it’s smarter and far more tactical on the defensive end. For example, if you’re on a 10-0 run, the AI will change up its defense to counter your run. If that run included a whole bunch of inside points, it’ll move to a zone-defense. If you’ve hit a couple of three’s, it’ll double-team your team’s best three-point shooters (no matter how low their rating is).
Furthermore, the fast-break is extremely rare and difficult to pull off, as your opponents will very quickly get back on defense and cover all facets of the key to stop a quick score. If you’re playing as New York – a team with a run-and-gun style of offense – and you’re coming up against San Antonio – a famously strong defensive minded squad – the Spurs will take every opportunity possible to stop the fast-break by the Knicks. This will include half-court traps, cutting off the shortest of passes and sprinting back on defense for the block. The opponent AI is completely and utterly relentless on the two highest difficulties.
NBA Live veterans should definitely up the ante to All-star as soon as they start playing, as it really challenges you and forces you to consider the options before making a play. In previous years, you could easily drive through the key and avoid several opponents, but you just can’t do that this year. No matter how much of an offensive-minded player your ball handler is, or how high their dribbling skills are, if you try to dribble the ball more than a few times in the key, you’ll be stripped. It’s a really strong sense of realism, one that takes away a lot of the series’ arcadey gameplay. There’s a stronger focus on play-running and getting an open jump-shot, and while you’ll still occasionally see a wild shot go in from a player like Joakim Noah, you won’t be successful on the offensive end unless you’re extremely cautious with your passing and you’re taking the best possible shots.
Getting your best player the ball is absolutely crucial in NBA Live 10 and the game does a fantastic job of letting you know who the best shooters on your team are. DNA quick plays can be run by simply tapping the right shoulder button. The best shooter closest to you will try and get open via a cut or screen and once they do, the option to pass to them for the shot will be there. It’s a great way to get a quick shot off and stop your opponent’s momentum, but it is reliant upon what players you have on the court and how confident you are with them taking a mid-range jumper. A player like Ron Artest for example probably isn’t the best option for a quick play when you have Bryant, Fisher, Odom and Gasol on your team, all of which are better options for a quick fade-away jumper. So if you’re keen to run a quickplay, move to the side that one of those players are on so that the game isn’t forced into running a play for Artest.
There are a few glitches on the offensive end that effect both the AI and user controlled teams. Firstly, players absolutely refuse to pass the ball once they’re off-balance and a split second away from having the ball stripped from them. You’ll see the animation start-up and you know you’re about to lose the ball, but there’s nothing you can do about it, even if you vigorously tap the pass or shoot buttons. Secondly, players seem to love standing as close to the boundary lines as possible, sometimes even accepting the ball while clearly standing out-of-bounds. What makes this even worse is that sometimes it’s not even called.
These glitches are a shame and pretty much occur in every game. That’s disappointing because the changes in gameplay are so extreme that the experience is so completely unique to what any of us are probably used to with the NBA Live franchise. It’s as close to a perfect package for an NBA game as you can get, but there are still the typical NBA Live glitches we all kind of have to expect will be included. However, they aren’t anywhere near as influential on the experience as they have been in previous years. The stronger focus on tactical offense and improved AI defense really makes the experience far more realistic and genuine compared to previous games in the serious. Seeing the AI switch its defense to counter your attack or take advantage of the double-team and pass out to an open player during offense really gives the game a new level of originality that has never been seen in the franchise, and these aspects can easily blind you from any problems the game has.
With its improvement in gameplay comes a distinctive lack of memorable gaming modes. NBA 2K10 has the brilliant My Player mode, which lets you create a player using the amazing create mode and lead them through the ranks to the big leagues. NBA Live has a few new modes in Dynamic Season and Adidas Live Run, but neither offers anything overly unique or exciting.
Dynamic Season takes advantage of the Dynamic DNA rating system that debuted last year, giving you the opportunity to take over matches as they happen in real-life to create your own outcome. The biggest fault of this mode is that it doesn’t really give you complete control over a team and its roster or finances, and is instead completely focused on the actual NBA season and allowing you to override specific matches. You can take control of as many teams as you like and rewind to matches throughout the season to change the outcome, effectively creating your own take on the current NBA season. It’s not as enjoyable as it sounds, although you can probably get some entertainment out of it if you’re keen on having a bit of fun with the real-life standings.
Adidas Live Run is a five-on-five mode where you and ten mates log on to hit the court. You compete against other teams and build up your stats while trying to play with other people in your team as effectively as possible. The outcome is fun and often chaotic, as it’s essentially just a pick-up-game style mode with no real strategy needed to be successful.
Presentation wise, NBA Live 10 once again looks the goods. It’s not a stunning package visually, but the animations are generally great if not a little glitchy at times. Players look a little too plastic but the design of each to represent their real-life appearance is fairly impressive. The crowd and bench have both been improved as well, with the crowd responding to specific plays and close matches and the bench players reacting more realistically to big plays. The TV style presentation to introduce players and close out matches are welcomed addition as well, giving the game a bit more personality.
The commentary team of Marv Albert and Steve Kerr get the work done again, but maybe some new audio is needed to liven things up. The same responses have been used for going on four years now, with only a few new lines added per year to make use of any new players in the league. The stadium announcer is still as bad as they’ve always been, and EA really needs to work to get each individual team announcer to call the team introductions and add an extra sense of realism to the experience.