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NBA 2K10 or NBA Live 2010? October 30, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Basketball, Game Reviews.
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Do you notice much of a difference?

NBA 2K10 or NBA Live 2010?

The choice to buy NBA 2K10 was not easy.

I had been a life-long player of EA Sports’ NBA Live series (though I missed NBA Live 09) and it was comfortable to stick to what I already knew.  Though my friends have been telling me for years that the real king of NBA games is 2K, I just never made the switch.  I just kept buying it year after year, even though the braniacs at EA were always more focused on pointless things such as authentic tattoos and shoes rather than what really matters – the gameplay.

Is NBA Live back?

nbalive10coverHowever, leading up to the release of the game all I had been hearing was that Live was back.  This year, Mike Wang (formerly the lead developer at 2K) jumped ship and headed to work for EA, and the rumblings from the rumour mill were that NBA Live series was making a huge comeback to reclaim the throne from 2K.  Moreover, I played the demo for NBA Live 2010 on PS3 and it was very nice.  The graphics were superb as always, and the arena noises took it the atmosphere to another level.  Most of all, I noticed the distinct improvement in gameplay, the one thing that the Live series has been criticised for more than anything else over the last few years.

I needed to up the difficulty level a few notches, but gone are the days of being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want.  In the old days, as soon as you figure out how the AI works, it was all over for the computer, even on ‘Superstar’ level.  Well, now it’s a lot harder to complete a series of humanly impossible moves before spinning past four defenders then dunking on all of them.  Your teammates are now smarter and act more like players in real life.  Fast breaks are smooth(er).  Defense has been revamped.  Freestyle passing is a cool addition.  It was significantly better than any Live game I had played before.

On the other hand, 2K’s sample offering, a demo of its Draft Combine mini-game (I was too cheap to buy the full version) didn’t impress me all that much.  Sure, it was not in a proper arena so it was difficult to make a direct comparison to Live, but whether it was the player movement, sound, or graphics, it felt like Live was the better package.  Nevertheless, I did a fair bit of reading on the games and checked out the publicly available videos.  Even though there was the odd dissenter, the overwhelming consensus from gamers was that Live has indeed upped its game, but 2K still reigned supreme.

Further, while the Live promo videos looked good, 2K’s videos were mind-blowing.  I was shocked to find out that it was actual in-game footage.

The decision and verdict

2k10coverAnd so I had a dilemma on my hands.  Do I go for the game I’ve known for years and looked like a safe bet from the demo, or do I take the plunge and spend my hard-earned cash on the series everyone has been raving about but I had never tasted?  In the end, I made a rational choice and went with 2K10.  Having now played full versions of both games, I can say that this year there is no massive winner.  Both games are incredibly fun and look amazing, but the fact of the matter is, 2K is a more realistic basketball experience than Live.  If you want to go be able to dominate your opponents, perform sick cross-overs and streetball moves, go with Live.  But if you want a more realistic basketball simulation based on strategy, movement and tactics, then 2K is the answer.  This is not to say one game is clearly better than the other.  It’s a matter of what you’re looking for in a basketball game.  I was looking for realism.

Another factor that influenced my decision was my familiarity with the NBA Live series.  It was actually a lot more difficult to overcome than I thought it would be.  I had spent years with the Live presentations style, graphics, menus and in particular its control system.  When I initially tried to 2K demo, everything was different.  People tell me that the 2K graphics are better, but because I was so used to seeing Live’s player graphics, I couldn’t tell.  I still can’t.  Further, the 2K menus were initially confusing to use.  Worst of all, the controls were driving me crazy.  I was so used to using the right stick do perform dribble and spin moves (which is used for shooting in 2K) that I kept tossing up unwanted half-court shots.

Accordingly, I completely understand those who plan to continue sticking with the Live series, especially this year, when the gap between the two franchises is not very big.  However, if you are willing to spend a bit more time to learn the controls and get acquainted with the 2K series, I believe it will be a more rewarding experience.  Having played 2K10 for a few weeks now, I do notice the difference in gameplay.  The players’ movements are just that little more realistic and the game is more about learning how to break down the defence using smart, technical playmaking as opposed to using ankle-breaking highlight moves and exploiting deficiencies in the AI.

The biggest advantage that NBA 2K10 has over NBA Live 2010 is the new My Player mode.  It’s not even close to perfect, but it’s quite advanced for a brand new game mode and will likely eat up hours upon hours of your time.  For gamers tired of just winning championships year after year, My Player is a refreshing change that is unusually satisfying.  I’m sure Live will come up with something similar next year, but for now, 2K is the only game that has this excellent feature.

Anyway, it’s so far so good with NBA 2K10.  I don’t rule out hiring NBA Live 2010 from the video store to try the full game, but I certainly don’t regret the decision I made.

To see for yourself, check out some gameplay videos for both 2K10 and Live 2010 below.

 

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Comments»

1. Game Review: NBA 2K10 « About Writing – The Personal Blog of An Aspiring Writer - October 31, 2009

[…] It was a difficult decision to make, especially since NBA Live 2010 has made a valiant attempt to steal back the title of ‘best NBA sim’ from 2K this year.  For those who are having trouble deciding between the two, check out this post here. […]

2. Terrell Stovall - July 6, 2010

PLEASE SOMEONE HAS TO FIX THE GLITCH WHERE YOU CAN RUN INBOUNDS WITH THE BALL. THAT IS REALLY KILLING NBA LIVE OFF. I BEEN A NBA LIVE FAN FOREVER BUT IM REALLY HAVING MY DOUBTS NOW. PLEASE FIX THAT SHIT!!!!! I CANT EVEN PLAY A DESCENT GAME ONLINE.

pacejmiller - July 6, 2010

Haven’t played or experienced it myself. But you should direct your complaints to the geniuses at EA!


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