The tag line for NBA 2K10 is: “This season you won’t just play the NBA, you’ll take over.” The front of the package states that it’s the number one rated and number one selling NBA video game. This year’s entry marks the tenth anniversary of the franchise. 2K Sports has put a lot into this disk but is it fun?
At first start up, 2K10 automatically loads into a quick game setup. However, it is not a good idea to jump in and learn as you go. There are too many nuances to the default control scheme that make it difficult to pick up and play. Do yourself a favor and read through the practice. Wait, what? 2K10 decides to tell you, via on-screen text, instead of show you how the controls work. They could have just printed that in the manual. While hard to pick up and play, it does adds depth to the game. Every move that a pro would make on the court can be done in game.
Not only is there a control for every move but there is also an animation. This gives the appearance of smooth game play but makes it hard to determine when to press the appropriate buttons. Your selected character might be stuck finishing a move even though you need to him to move. It can be frustrating as it makes the game feel unresponsive or like there is movement lag.
One feature that you‘ll quickly notice as different from many other games is the menu. It allows you to get to just about any screen, game mode, option, or feature from any where in the game. The menu works well for the most part and is nicely executed and organized. Most menu screens will also allow you to see who’s online. NBA 2K10 wants you to play with friends and this year it’s easier than ever. Put together your five man dream team and play together with very little issue. At the press of a button you can grab some friends and shoot some hoops.
Some of the best and worst parts of the game become evident while playing My Player Mode. Choose your play style, appearance, and attributes and work your way through the ranks to an NBA All-Star. Character creation was a game in itself as you’ll be hard pressed to create a character that doesn’t look like a cave man. The player models in the game look pretty solid but for some reason it didn’t translate well into this tool.
As you start out, your stats are astonishingly low. Don’t be surprised when your character has an overall rating of 39 or 40 on a 100 point scale. This makes it difficult to perform at a level necessary to progress. Performing well in practice and in game will net you points that are used to upgrade your player’s abilities. You are told to spend your skill points on the core attributes for your play style and position, but it doesn’t highlight or give any indication what those attributes are.
The NBA 2K Insider is a helpful NPC that gives you guidance and walks you through the process. The amount of help he actually provides becomes redundant and is sometimes just plain incorrect. You’ll earn a performance grade for each game but you’ll find it penalizes you for things you can’t control and rewards you inconsistently. Still, this mode is a must have and is one that you’ll find yourself coming back to again and again.
The Association is another mode offered in NBA 2K10. This is a typical season simulation that gives you control of the coaching and management choices. The options to set up a season are numerous and varied enough to provide an experience tailored to the player. Within this mode, you can select a specific player and try to upgrade their individual stats through drills. The drills are similar to those found in the My Player Mode only much more difficult. The payoff can be big, though, as it could take a mediocre player and transform him into one that gets put on the starting lineup. Sim or play every game; micro manage or let the AI handle strategy and lineups; The Association is executed very well.
Heading out of the arena and onto the NBA Blacktop yields a 3-Point Shootout, Dunk Contest, and more. The shootout setup is simple: choose three NBA players and one to control and then you have a set amount of time to make as many 3-point shots as you can. Trying to dunk in the Dunk Contest proved to be extremely difficult for an average result. These and other mini games like Twenty-One add to the choices available when you insert the disk.
Keep NBA 2K10 connected to the Internet for another great feature, NBA Today. This will keep your rosters and stats up-to-date with the real NBA. Results will be shown for recent real world match ups and you can choose which games to play. The announcers will pull in current stats during the game being played and even invite you to tune in later in the week for specific match ups. The commentary works very well. EA can learn a lot from 2K since the play calling is diverse, informative, and contains very little “pregnant pauses.” Not only is there a massive soundtrack, but a custom play list can be created so that you hear only the songs you like.
The game looks great, too. It’s easy to see how beautiful the game really is by taking a look at any of the screens or videos. Character models are extremely detailed down to the player tattoos and signature play styles. Photographers, cheerleaders and spectators are varied and lifelike. Playing in a stadium, practice court, or outside all look and sound as they should. However, this becomes a bit too much for the 360’s hardware which causes the frame rate to stutter noticeably in various game modes and cameras. Other slight graphical issues crop up (such as benches clipping through player shorts) but are few and far between and easy to overlook.
Unfortunately, bugs are present that will detract from the flow of the game. Referees and AI controlled players will toss the ball back and forth six or seven times before putting it into play. A number of times the game would lock up at half time. Every option and menu item was available but it never moved on to the third quarter. It was frustrating having to exit the game being played.
There is no doubt about it, there is a lot of fun to be had in NBA 2K10. You can be pulled in to it’s athletic embrace even if you don’t love basketball. With very strong features such as NBA Today and My Player Mode, it’s sad to see the game stumble with an inconsistent frame rate and deceivingly unresponsive controls. NBA 2K10 is a strong choice if you’re looking for the best basketball experience to be had.
Final note: 2K Sports has announced news of an upcoming patch that will potentially fix a lot of the problems I had. It’s supposed to even address the frame rate problems. If it works then it could turn this game into a must have for your sports collection.