While we’re all donning our footie boots and having a kick about on FIFA, EA Sports are busy shipping out the latest updates for their other vast array of sports titles.
Us Brits tend to get hooked up in FIFA each October, but take a step back and you’ll see that there is a variety of other sports games trying to attract UK gamers; most sadly don’t receive the recognition they perhaps deserve.
So NBA Live 10 then is perhaps one of the most enjoyable American sports games I’ve invested my time in, and it certainly allows for the most flexibility in any of the EA sports titles. Basketball is still small fry in Britain, but for Americans it is an essential ingredient in the sporting calendar along with NHL and Madden.
Of course, NBA Live 10 is quintessential America. The teams are all taken from the NBA league and atmosphere is mimicked to reflect that of American culture. The emphasis on entertainment at half-time, the crowd goading the opposition and the cheesy music that fires up before the end of a quarter. And let us not forget the sexy cheerleaders; all of which make an appearance in NBA and why not? This is after-all an American sport.
Customization of options is perhaps one of the most pleasing options for new recruits to the game and even for the seasoned veterans. You can tinker about with every option possible on the court and that applies to both your own controlled team and the AI opposition. Struggling to fire a basket? Then you can head into the options and flick the slider to give you better odds of hitting the net. Or you can tone down how often the opponent passes and dribbles with the ball.
If you can think of how to edit or make things a little easier or harder in the game, then it most likely can be edited in the menus. It certainly means that no matter what your skill level, you’ll find an option to edit to adjust the difficulty at any given point.
The game features the now synonymous EA Sports menu feel. It is current and sleek, but I can’t help feeling that each game should offer something different on the menus to distinguish it from its other popular titles. Granted, unless you have your eyes closed you’ll realise that you are playing a basketball title with the loading screens featuring a practice arena, but everything feels that bit too familiar.
Controlling players is superb and you have the option to use the face buttons or the right analogue stick to pull off a shot or pass. Alternatively you can dribble with the left stick and use the right stick to position where you want the ball to go. Despite sounding complicated, the controls are certainly innovative and again allow for the flexibility that players want from a sports game. You can also select players by pushing the triggers and pressing a face button depending on where on the court you want to be. It is simple yet allows you to be in control of the whole team rather than just one player all the time.
Play is split into four quarters, as with any typical basketball match, and these can be adjusted time-wise to be as short as 2 minutes or as long as 12 minutes each. If it goes to deadlock you’ll get periods of over-time. You can choose to play with all the rules on, or simplify things so you won’t get penalised by a bad pass or player obstruction.
The players themselves are recreated to try and look like their real life-counterparts as with any EA game. However as I’m not the biggest basketball fan, I’m not sure how these reflect the real look, but as with FIFA, I’m sure that attention to detail isn’t missing from each of them. Again this applies the courts which are generally similar to each other with some small aesthetical differences.
You can choose to play a quick match or play through the Dynasty League where you can play through a whole season of NBA including the pre-training season and play-offs at the end. The season is long and allows you to sign and scout for players during the ‘transfer window’ to spice things up a little. You can also hire and fire staff and give your team aspirations for the season.
It all comes to a close with a knockout round of Playoffs with the final determining who wins the league and the coveted Dynasty trophy. You can choose to sim the whole season or parts of it, if you want, but it’s a bit of a cop-out really if you want to enjoy the full game itself.
You can take the game online and update rosters and teams in-line with how the NBA season is panning out. You can also play games as they take place and possibly change the results from your own handy-work. The updates are similar to the Adidas Live Season on FIFA, which requires a premium download or you can use a code in the manual. Obviously those buying second-hand won’t probably get this included or in our case using a promo copy; we don’t have that luxury.
The soundtrack is as solid as ever with an EA game, not only do you have ESPN radio coverage on the menus, but the tracks themselves offer a variety of rap/hip-hop which gives it that urban American feel. Despite not knowing many of the songs in the game, they are catchy and infective if you are into that sort of music.
NBA Live 10 is a solid basketball title with little room for improvement from a non-fan perspective. What is on offer is probably a series high and it begs the question as with many of EA’s titles right now, what can be done next? We’re certainly wondering what is left to improve and only time will tell.