Mobile hoops fans have quite a smorgasbord of basketball this fall, as no less than three NBA titles have dribbled their way onto the PSP. The gang at 2K Sports decided to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their franchise by tossing their hat in the portable ring, and the results are surprisingly good – considering it’s their first go-round on the platform.
Unlike its counterparts The Inside and Live, 2K10 focuses squarely on team-based basketball, eschewing minigames and single player career development in favor of more traditional sporting sim fare. Don’t let this fool you, though, as there’s still plenty of good stuff to do. A deep franchise mode worthy of any console (called The Association) can keep you busy for weeks, or you can choose to ignore petulant owners and multi-year plans by diving into a single season or just heading straight to the playoffs. Standalone tournaments, informal street games, and configurable situations are also on the bill.
We were definitely impressed with the on-court action, as 2K10 has the strongest pure basketball acumen of the three games. Shooting and passing are intuitive, and playcalling is a snap, making it easy to jump right in and play. Bumping up the difficulty from the default Pro to All-Star provides a near-perfect level of competition, leading to plenty of back-and-forth games that come right down to the wire.
2K10 also separates itself from the competition with an impressive array of old-school legendary players, as eight teams spanning the 1950s through the 1990s complement your typical list of available squads. Our only gripe was that we weren’t able to place them into tournaments – we really wanted a Battle Royale featuring Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, and the rest of the Hall of Famers at our fingertips.
To be sure, there are a handful of other issues that keep 2K10 from being an all-timer. The framerate chugs a bit during standard five-on-five matches, which probably wouldn’t be as noticeable if the replays and cutscenes didn’t run so smoothly. Other, smaller games (like 1-on-1 or 2-on-2) don’t suffer from slowdown either. We also noticed random half- or full-second hiccups when the ball would be near the rim, leading to moments of terror when we thought the game was about to crash. Heck, the Oklahoma City Thunder even suffer the indignity of being called the Sonics by announcer Kevin Harlan. Oops – awkward!
In spite of these flaws, we keep coming back to the fact that we just dig the fundamental basketball being played on the court. And yes, while 2K10 doesn’t have as many options as The Inside or NBA Live, it’s still a worthwhile handheld hoops title that deserves a look. Depending on your perspective, it might fit the bill better than the rest.
Oct 15, 2009