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December 11, 2009
NBA 2K10 - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
9/10/20092K2K SportsVisual Concepts1-72-7
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Attempting to block the shot in 2K10!
Rivalries are a brilliant thing; whether you're a Ford fan or a Holden fan, you prefer Sony over Microsoft, or perhaps even Coke versus Pepsi? Sure, competition like this might produce plenty of pointless fan-boy bickering, but at the same time it promotes innovation with each side of the fence constantly trying to out-do each other. So, with the calendar turning over to 2010, as regular as clockwork comes the latest NBA offering from 2K Sports; NBA 2K10, ready to take on EA's NBA Live 10. 2K Sports have convincingly beaten EA in the NBA simulation stakes for the last several releases, both in sales and review scores, and the 2010 titles are no different. Visual Concepts' latest release doesn't quite shoot a perfect swish, but a 3-pointer none the less to score a comfortable win over EA's latest.

Given career modes are all the rage these days, NBA 2K10 has jumped on the bandwagon with the My Player mode to introduce you to the gameplay and (steep) difficulty curve behind the game. Your custom player is not only created with the obligatory visual features such as build, hair, facial hair, skin tone, clothes and tattoos, but also has customisable moves, preferred shot types and play styles. You're then placed out into the Summer basketball league and it's up to you to progress through there, through summer camps, the NBA D-league, and finally making it to the big time in the NBA.

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The interface is slick.
Experience and skill points for your player are gained by performing drills (specific to shooting, offence, defence etc). You also receive player grades through games in this mode, as little messages which pop up mid-game in the top-left of the screen throughout a game. These are either good or bad messages which raise or lower your rating during a game depending upon things like good passes, points scored for/against your team and bad calling for passes. It's inconsistent, easy to abuse, and getting good player grades and actually beating your opposition seem to be two mutually exclusive tasks at hand; if you're too busy trying to perform ‘good' passes and defend only your player, then chances are the AI will be putting up bricks and dodgy defence for the remainder of your team in the process, which certainly doesn't help win games.

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NBA 2K10 is a visual treat.
Quite often (read: very often) during My Player mode your player grade will be penalised for mistakes performed by your team rather than through any fault of your own. This mode is hard enough as it is (requiring literally dozens of matches to be played prior to progressing your player to the NBA; assuming you're good enough), and this just adds frustration to an already-steep learning curve. It's definitely a fun and worthwhile gameplay mode, but be prepared to invest much time and effort into it before you can finally reap the rewards of getting the attention of (and being selected for) an NBA side, let alone your NBA team of choice.

NBA Today is one of the new features added in NBA 2K10 whereby the latest game results and stats from the NBA are downloaded to your PS3 each time you boot the game up, updating the stats for the game, and also those which splash up on screen mid-game. One of the direct options from the main menu too displays the current day's NBA games which are scheduled to take place, letting you in effect "play out" the current round's games (with up-to-date rosters).

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Ready to slam the ball home.
For those who haven't played a basketball game in a while, NBA 2K10's controls are slightly more complicated than just a pass button and a shoot button, utilizing most buttons on the controller together with the right stick for additional ball-handling. There's a lot to remember, but the training camp modes in My Player really assist with picking them up and progressing yourself. Controls around the low-post can get a bit murky and frustrating however; when you'd expect your player to do a simple dunk or layup you'll quite often find them doing a half-assed jumpshot or (even worse) doing a pump-fake. And as if this isn't bad enough, it then lowers your player grade, and will have you stuck in the lower grades longer. There's no action in NBA 2K10 without consequence.

There's been plenty of talk online about NBA 2K10's menu system being arkward and unusable, and I thought I'd share my 2 cents on it. Sure, it's different (whereby you have to hold down the direction of the menu option you want, while selecting it, rather than 'scrolling' through them), but it only takes a moment or two to get used to the alternative interface and it really isn't a hindrance.

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NBA Today includes re-world stats.
From the glistening sweat upon players to the opening animated interactions between players, Visual Concepts have paid attention to even the smallest details in developing NBA 2K10. Not only are the animations (of both gameplay and minor cinematics) captured and presented perfectly, it's the transitions between animations where NBA 2K10 really excels. There's no jittery stop-start moments between dribbling, passing and shooting here; it's all one big seamless motion that really forms the foundation for the game looking like actual basketball in motion. After all, there's no point in having graphics made up of a bajillion polygons, if the players onscreen are all moving like they're doing the robot dance.

As if player models, animations and the court weren't a pretty enough feast for the eyes, they're polished off brilliantly with a fully animated crowd, benches, coaches and officials, even mascots and delightfully wrapped with TV commentary overlays and statistics. NBA 2K10 is pretty much as good as the PS3 visuals get, and as mentioned earlier; in motion it looks even better.

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Player models in NBA 2K10 look fantastic.
While at first they may seem flawless, there are afew odd quirks with NBA 2K10's visuals, beginning with the inevitable slowdown. With graphics like this, slowdown at times was pretty much a given, though it only affects the gameplay on the odd occasion. Another odd quirk is that there's no ‘smarts' behind the graphic overlays on-screen; so statistics and scores will be displayed along the bottom half or so of the screen without any regard for gameplay that may be occurring on-screen at the time. At least once during a game you'll find this kind of thing obscures your gameplay, and it's an unfortunate (and regular) occurrence.

In keeping with the true TV broadcast look-and-feel of the game, the audio of NBA 2K10 doesn't disappoint in the slightest. As with the player movements, the commentary is smooth and seamless, with work done by Visual Concepts to avoid pitch changes and audible inflections between phrases. Details are also updated via the 2K servers, so commentators will make remarks in-game regarding recent happenings and results in the NBA. Crowd noises, shoe squeaks, and all the other basketball effects inbetween are as you'd expect, and round off the brilliant effect the game has of being something straight from an NBA broadcast.

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Courtside Sim in the XBox 360 version!
It's a shame that the controls are sufficiently complex to capture all the intricacies of a basketball game, yet as a result they're a little too finicky to just have some mates around and have a quick pick-up-and-play. The Blacktop 3-on-3 goes a little way to addressing this (like a 2-on-2 NBA Street style game mode), but that doesn't really help if you want to play NBA rather than street ball. Perhaps having a selectable ‘beginner' controls scheme in addition to the more advanced one might be a worthwhile addition to future NBA 2K titles. On the whole though, NBA 2K10 is a great sports title, and is rightly standing over NBA Live 10 with the PS3 NBA sports game crown, at least until the next wave of titles come through.

Review By: Chris Gobbett

GRAPHICSHard to fault, save for slowdown and the silly obtrusive overlays.
SOUNDCommentary is great, and the crowd and effects fill it out aurally.
GAMEPLAYAfew gameplay quirks and complex controls soften the experience.
VALUEStick with the My Player mode, and you'll be playing for weeks.
OVERALLNBA 2K10 isn't perfect, but it's definitely the best NBA experience out there, with 2KSports regaining the crown over EA yet again. With a steep learning curve, it'll require a bit of effort to get the most out of it, but if you're a fan of the game then that shouldn't be a problem at all.

Talk about NBA 2K10 in this forum topic now.