Game Review: NBA 2K10

By Tim Boswell  |  10/22/2009

2009-10-22-nba2k10EA Sports has held the crown for best sports titles in the gaming world, but one they haven't been able to touch as of recent years is the NBA. That's because 2K Sports has been holding it down since it introduced its NBA 2K series. Today, they're in their 10th year, and still holding it down. The series has improved from year to year, and 2K10 continues that trend.

This year, the series' presentation has been upgraded vastly, offering 2K vets a much more polished look from previous years. Not only do players look extremely realistic this year, but the player animations, pre-game rituals, and cutscenes look phenomenal. This year, they've added new features to the broadcast overlays, such as League Leaders, and team schedules, all of which are effected by holidays as well. For example, during Halloween, the on-screen overlays are decorated with pumpkins, and wolf howl sound bites, while turkeys run across the screen during Thanksgiving, giving the presentation the feel of a real-life game.

The biggest thing most players wanna know is about the on-court gameplay. For the most part, it’s very similar, but one of the immediate changes you'll notice is a revamped turbo option. In previous 2K titles, the right trigger could be held down and a player could sprint up and down the court at will. On 2K10, that has all changed. This year, 2K Sports has added an energy system displayed beneath each player, indicating how long they can continually sprint before depleting all their stamina. The new bar works in one of two stages: once you use your yellow bar, you start to burn off a player's stamina. If you use it often, you may need to rest your player longer before he can return to the court. So, you have to be careful, and use your turbo wisely, especially if you need your star in the game longer. This also adds to a more realistic game.

There's also other subtle changes, such as the new playcalling system, which gives gamers the opportunity to call plays on the fly, via situations or player position, giving you a little more control than before.

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Outside of gameplay, 2K has implemented a few new features such as one they call NBA Today, which is similar to NBA Live's Dynamic DNA option, as well as the previous 2K Living Rosters feature. NBA Today integrates the league's latest news, trade info, stats and more, helping to provide the commentary team with new conversational topics throughout gameplay. For example, if Kobe (who is 2K10's cover athlete) drops 40 in a real life game the night before, Harlan, Kellogg and Miller might comment on it during your game in 2K10, giving the game that much more realism. It also scans the NBA schedule of upcoming games and presents the best matchups for players to instantly leap into for a quick play match up. That means that if a team suddenly goes on a run during the regular season, you'll find their games popping up much more frequently in the quick play section than before. It will also give the AI driven "insider", known as the 2K Insider more blog info and commentary on the league.

The Association game mode also received a few cosmetic improvements this year -- one you'll notice off the bat is the facelift of its homepage. But, outside of a few things such as customizing your draft class, which you can upload or download these via 2K Share, there aren't many changes here.

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The biggest addition to 2k10 is the inclusion of the developmental league teams, allowing you to cultivate and prepare for your team's future by calling players up from these squads. The My Player mode was also added, allowing a player to create their own NBA up-and-comer from scratch. There are literally thousands of combinations to make your player unique too. After building a player, you play through various drills and exhibition matches in the summer league and practice squads before hopefully joining a team, with your progress graded after each game. If your skills aren't actually up to par, you'll be sent down to the developmental leagues to build up your skills, so you can contribute to your team in your given role.

You can also take your created player online, where you can form online crews with other players, or play by yourself alongside other players or friends as well.

While 2K Sports has made some awesome improvements to the 10th Anniversary title, it isn't without a few missteps -- one being the ease of scoring in the post. As we played, we noticed that when players drove to the lane, they were uncontested a lot of the time, or a post up player could sink their shot the majority of the time. This can really mess up your momentum, which still plays a large role within the offense.

The game's AI is also off at times as well. Quite frequently, we noticed backcourt violations, players passing the ball out of bounds, or even a defender leaving his man unguarded so his lane is wide open to the basket. While it's definitely annoying, it doesn't ruin the overall experience.

Overall, NBA 2K10 still holds its place as the #1 basketball simulation on the market. It has solid, fast paced gameplay and an excellent presentation in the NBA 2K series thus far. If they can release some patches to fix some of the minor mistakes, this game could be flawless. But nonetheless, still an excellent game.

With polished the game has become, we're already anticipating how much better NBA 2K11 will be.

Our Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0