The story of NBA Live 10 is one of two games. One of them took place before a myriad of fixes, patches, and gameplay changes.
That was a game where the AI did not grasp the concept of clock control, refusing to call timeouts or foul in close match-ups in the fourth quarter. Opposing players would pick a spot on the floor, hold the ball, and wait for the shot clock to drain without moving.
In other words, if this review were written before EA quickly fixed their product, this would be a rant on the level of NBA Live 07, arguably the most disastrous game of this franchise. That would have been a shame too, because EA Sports has made genuine strides in refining the product, and with some tweaks, Live 10 is where it should be.
Thankfully, those coding alterations make Live the product it was meant to become. This is no longer the series where the lane is an open invitation. Live has significantly tightened up, preventing ease of movement when dealing with a defender. Breaking to the basket requires finesses and strategy, now resembling something close to the actual sport.
There are still quirks. On the default settings, Yao Ming is a staggeringly poor post player, missing easy lay-ups and even dunks… badly. Some tweaking of the sliders is a necessity, although categories such as lay-ups should be a given. Live is beginning to take after 2K as well, pushing players out from the key as they try to drive, the sticky defender preventing an open lane. It doesn’t feel like natural defense, more like a robotic opponent who is programmed to mimic movements to stop incoming players.
Live does maintain pacing though, managing to push around nine minute quarters to remain realistic. The AI nicely works its offense around the court, while utilizing its stars to score. On the other side of the ball, despite the obviously canned nature, the AI will step into the passing lanes and strip the ball easy should an errant pass come its way.
Live’s design focus was not necessarily on “new” in 2010, adding few new modes. A 10-player online pick-up game is fine, and the Dynamic Season (which merges the real NBA season with your own) is great for those who want a truly authentic season.
Thankfully, the focus is obviously being put on remaining competitive in the face of 2K Sports. Live is building a brand from the court up, which is how it should be. It is gaining its own identity, and two NBA titles now provide their own unique take on the game while remaining vastly different in how they create that experience. The gap between them is closing, or at least after EA fixes what they nearly broke two weeks after the product has shipped.
NBA Live 10 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: PSP, PS3.