NBA 2K10

When it comes to basketball simulations, NBA 2K10 still holds the Larry O'Brien.

By King, Posted 06 Feb 2010

For an entire decade, one NBA video game series has been king of them all. With the introduction of NBA 2K on the short-lived Dreamcast, we witnessed the birth of the what many claim to be the best basketball simulation ever. Now in its 10th Anniversary, the series is still going strong, with each year improving over the previous game with new modes, modified gameplay, and enhancements to online. This year is no exception, with NBA 2K10 offering a robust line-up of new things to do.

The first change you'll notice upon booting up the game is the completely redesigned menu system. Gone are the days of flipping vertically through options to click on. Now you Move up, left, right, down or diagonally to select an option. While the object was to make a more smooth and intuitive way to navigate menus, the result is a clustered and confusing mess. It doesn't help that this limits you to seeing a maximum of eight options on screen at once. I'm not sure why people have complained about menus in the past, because I personally don't see anything wrong with the old school way that has been around since the beginning of time.

NBA 2K10 Review

From the jump ball to the sound of the final buzzer, gameplay will feel very similar to anyone who has played a recent version of the game. Overall, this is the best and most realistic feeling game. I went back and compared the previous five NBA 2K games, and as solid as all of them are, there was a significant step backward after I had played 2K10. The post game isn't cheap, outside shooting works as it should, and driving to the basket has been toned down. Defensive play could be better because the lock-on mechanic still isn't perfected, but the current state is more than tolerable. If there's one major flaw gameplay wise it's that the game has become more and more reliant on animations, trying to make it look like a real NBA game, but instead it makes you feel like you have less control of the player and often times he ends up not going in the direction you want him to go. Seeing Chris Paul stutter-step, dribble behind his back, then crossover the defender looks excellent, but all I wanted him to do was take a dribble to the right.

This leads into another new feature included in this years edition of NBA 2K, being NBA Today. NBA Today allows you to keep up with the real life schedule. When you select to play one of those games, you're not only playing with constantly updated rosters, but the real world statistics and standings are displayed in presentation. Also going back to commentary, the two will comment on how players are really playing at the moment. So for instance, you may be playing a game featuring the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Kevin Durant's hot scoring streak will be mentioned. From the menu, you can even go through and look at the current standings and league leaders, so you can keep up with everything without even logging on a PC. All this is a nice inclusion, and I appreciate getting updates on the latest game scores, but it feels a little underwhelming. I don't see myself playing along with the current schedule more than a couple times, and those are just if I want to be amused by the on point commentary.

While the game does portray a real NBA simulation, it's easily possible for hyper-active gamers to turn this into NBA Street with high flying dunks and players running up and down the court like it's a twenty-eight meter relay. The game becomes sloppy with turnovers galore, but some players won't get the full experience because they aren't playing the game how it was intended to be. This doesn't break the game in any way. Sim players can still get the game they're looking for if they play the game how they want to, and if someone wants to run suicides while dribbling the ball, that's fine too. It just would have been nice if there was a way to perfect the system so everyone got the same experience. It's not that 2K didn't try. A new stamina bar has been used that makes you use the turbo boost sparingly. Make your player sprint too often and he'll be getting splinters in his rear in mere minutes. The action is still fast-paced, but it helps from becoming a track meet like games could tend to before.

The whole on-court experience still comes together to be fluid and exciting, even with a few minor annoyances tugging at its jersey. When it boils down, NBA 2K10 brings the NBA into your living room with you in the midst of it all. Fighting through screens and completing the small details that go into each play to bring a W home feels like playing a basketball game needs to. You could swear it's more than just pressing buttons as they correspond with a character on your T.V. screen. Each swish of the nylon creates a special moment, immersing you in your own sports world and recreating that feeling you had when you grew up wishing to fulfill in a professional career.

NBA 2K10 Review

Getting to the game's aesthetics, NBA 2K10 is hands down the best looking basketball game to date. Stadiums are highly detailed from the hardwood texture to the lighting effects, individual fans look great, players look like their real life counterparts (save for a few mishaps), uniforms bounce around flowingly, the animations look terrific (although sometimes they get in the way), and it's the closet you'll get to real life basketball in a virtual world. The kicks could be bit more detailed, but that's such a small nitpick and something you will hardly even notice unless you're a big sneaker-head like myself.

When you're dealing with 2K Sports, it's already a given that you're going to get the best looking and best playing sports game at the current time, so much so that these things are taken for granted. What most gamers are looking for is what kind of depth was added to the Association mode and if there were any new game modes added. The number of options included in this package is so vast that I don't even know where to begin. The place where the majority of NBA 2K10's hours will be put in is, Association mode, which is back with more depth than ever before. With the concept of taking head of a franchise in the National Basketball Association, calling all the shots, making trades, drafting, playing the actual games, and ultimately taking your team to hoisting the Larry O'Brien under bright lights, with confetti connecting with the sweat accumulated from the hard work already being perfected in the simple form, 2K can expand and add to the already addictive game mode.

Amongst the many ways to modify your team in the Association, one new major change is the ability to build your team from the minors with the introduction of D-League interactivity. If a young player needs to get some experience but isn't quite NBA ready, send them down to sharpen their skills. Or when you need a little help on your roster, you can offer a D-Leaguer a contract to get them up in the pros. You can also participate in playing these games, which for the most hardcore of players is mouth-watering. Though most will choose to simulate these games, some will really get a kick out of managing two teams simultaneously. Even if you couldn't care less about how your farm team performs, having the option to recruit D-League players up to your NBA squad does wonders for making the Association an even fuller experience.

The other stand-out for the Association mode is it's outstanding presentation. The main screen is an display with headlines of real events occurring in your league. This keeps you in the loop on the latest scores, trades, signings, injuries, milestones, etc. that have been happening outside of your team, which really connects you to your own unique season. Though you'll have to sloppily make your way through the menus, also has many in depth numbers for all the stat lovers to keep track of. It's even possible to take a step in the time machine and view the results of past NBA champions and award winners from not only your seasons but real NBA seasons from the beginning of time.

Presentation as a whole has been stepped up tremendously this year, and one of my favorite changes is the dynamic commentary by Clark Kellogg and Kevin Harlen. Sports games in general have had infamous commentary throughout history. After playing a handful of games, you could probably recite every word that was going to come out of the analysts mouth next. NBA 2K10 is finally here to revolutionize the way announcers ought to sound in sports games. There are still hundreds and hundreds of the standard dialogue to be heard here but along with much, much more. The two will have new conversations about specific players and how they're currently performing. The conversations change every game, with repeats being rare. They even react to things like real-life commentators would. They might start talking about how important rebounding is and how one team's advantage has got them ahead in the current game, then a big play might happen so they stop to comment on the play-by-play. A few seconds later they'll get back to the discussion they were having. At times I could swear Clark Kellogg and Kevin Harlen were living inside my TV.

NBA 2K10 Review

Presentation goes beyond just announcing. Player introductions have been added, so you can see the Cavaliers posing for a picture before a game, Dwayne Wade hanging from the rim, Kevin Garnett hitting his head on the basket support or screaming at the crowd to hype them up, Tim Duncan inspecting the game ball, or of course, LeBron tossing up the talcum powder. Also, special events like holidays are recognized. During your association game you might be playing on December 15, when a graphic of Santa will pop up and Clark Kellogg will say, “Be sure to tune in on Christmas day to see Cleveland taking on the Los Angles Lakers at 12:00 PM EST”. The upgraded presentation truly adds life to the game. Now I'm just waiting for a weekly show to be put back in, like we had five years ago.

Last year, the ability to play 5-on-5 (each user controlling one position) was added to lukewarm reception due to lag making it tough to play. Team-Up has returned, and is much improved over it's predecessor. If you just want to play a quick game, you can easily jump into one and start with random teams and assignments. You often won't get a full 10 players, but it isn't difficult to get a good amount of the spots filled. From here, your experience depends entirely on who you were paired with. The mode has a ton of potential if you get some players who are focused on teamwork. I wish I could say that's often the case, but sadly you will run into a lot of ball hogs or players who use exploits.

If you can get a group of people together that you enjoy playing with you can start your own crew. The online crews surprisingly present an adequate amount of depth, as the leader can customize just about everything you could think of for the crew. Team name, abbreviation, logo, colors, playbooks, coach name, jerseys, and all the essentials are there for you to toy with and make this team your own. Once you have a team assembled, you can take on other crews in online matches. If you enjoy the team-up game mode, you will have a blast with joining a crew, but the appeal of controlling a single player isn't for everyone, especially when you can be connected with some annoying players.

With all these new game modes and gameplay refinements, just about every fan of the series would gladly go buy this year's game at full price and not feel a single bit of guilt for it. But the biggest addition of all is the new My Player. Career modes have been popular in sports games over the last few years, so it's only fitting that NBA 2K finally gets one of its own. You create your own baller down to the finest details, then take the court for some Summer Circuit games. Once teams have gotten a chance to scout you, you will be drafted somewhere in the second round (it's impossible to go any higher, so you won't be coming into the league as a superstar). You will then go to training camps and battle other players for the final spots on the roster. If you aren't good enough, (which you won't be a lot of times) you will have to play a few games in the D-League and try to play well to get an NBA team to offer you a contract.

The mode plays basically the same as Team-Up does. You control your player, and your player only. There is a letter grade in the top left corner, critiquing your every move. Sometimes this can be very aggravating because your grade goes down for “Bad Shot Selection” because you missed a shot from right under the basket, or because you let your man score, even though it was on fast break and there was nothing you could do about it, or you get called for holding the ball too long, when you were just trying to run a play. The idea of grading your performance is a good one, but it would be nice if the grading system were more accurate.

NBA 2K10 Review

Based on your performance you will be awarded with skill points at the end of each game. This plays out a lot like a basketball RPG, because your skill points are cashed in to upgrade your attributes. Also available are drills that will help increase your rating. Since you start out so bad in every category, it's important how you progress your player. Movement is kind of slow, and considering there's no option to simulate any games, it is a long road to becoming a star player in the league. It's immensely satisfying though, once you're putting together a Hall of Fame worthy career, and all those years of hard work pay off.

The mode is a little bare, and it unfortunately features no off court interaction or extra activities, but My Player is a great, basic step to improve off of for NBA 2K11. It has it's share of annoyances and glitches, but there is a lot of fun to be had, and for all of us who dreamed that one day we would be stepping on the the hardwood for an NBA game, we can almost make that a reality in this mode.

The one thing that keeps NBA 2K10 from just about being the perfect game is the online. First of all, the online lobbies are gone, except for a very basic lobby you can join to play some unranked games, but even this is almost hidden. Now the only way you can play a ranked game is by going to quick game and getting a random opponent. I don't mind this so much because it allows for a fair game where no one can continually play the same opponent to get their record up, but it really doesn't make sense to remove lobbies as a whole. On top of this, even when both players have a great connection, there will be lag. There is about a .5 second delay between your press of a button and what happens on screen. This initially doesn't sound like much, but when you actually experience it, you realize it really interferes with the gameplay, especially when you're trying to shoot free throws. If you can learn to anticipate the lag, online play is still fun and there are online leagues you can join, but it's disappointing that in the generation where we have a game that can almost flawlessly run 256 player FPS matches we can't even have a lag-free game of two-on-two basketball.

NBA 2K10 is a healthy installment to a prestigious franchise. It delivers some of the best on court gameplay ever seen in a basketball simulation, along with plenty of things to do. There's actually so much to do in this game that it would be easy to overlook some options. With the core improved in so many ways along with a vast amount of new things to do, including the career mode, NBA 2K10 is sure to please any fan of basketball and provide them with a game to play well into the next season. Here's to ten more years of the best NBA action in the world, and here's also to hoping EA doesn't buy the NBA license.

Logan Smithson, Noobfeed

comments powered by Disqus

  • It's a shame that I don't play these games, they seemed to be great...

    Posted Feb 06, 2010

  • Very well written and spot on wit my thoughts on this game. One of the best sports games I have ever played maybe. I didnt toy around much with my player tho because it seems like it takes some dedication.

    Posted Feb 07, 2010

  • It certainley will take a while to get through multiple seasons since you can't simulate.

    Posted Feb 07, 2010

  • I sticks to Association mode where I can mess around with teams rosters.

    Posted Feb 07, 2010

  • King get yer ass back to IGN. 


    Just kidding of course. 

    Posted Feb 07, 2010
  • avatar 313

    You went into a lot of detail here and it really is helpful. I read some reviews on the big websites but it seems they really don't know much when it comes to basketball. Noobfeed seems to have a great writing staff and I should check this place out more often. Thanks for the help with the avatar and banner by the way.

    Posted Feb 11, 2010


General Information

NBA 2K10


Platform(s): PC, Xbox 360, PS3, WII
Publisher(s): 2K Sports
Developer(s): Visual Concepts
Genres: Sports
Themes: Basketball Sim
Release Date: 2009-10-06

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