Thanks to dreadful exclusive contracts and shrinking development budgets, it’s rare these days for two good sports titles to come out on one platform, much less three. That’s the happy dilemma hoops fans find for themselves this fall, though, as a trifecta of solid basketball games have hit the PSP. NBA Live 10 offers its own unique twist on the genre, sprinkling a healthy dose of international flavor and personal achievement into a recipe that that deftly mixes on-the-go immediacy and standard sports simulation.
On the hardwood, the experience is smooth and mercifully simple. You pass with one button and shoot with another, heading in for a slam only when you press turbo and there’s some space in the lane. Another nifty feature is the ability to spin, crossover, or otherwise attempt ankle-breaking offensive moves with a combination of the left trigger and any face button. Unfortunately, the controls are pretty slippery on defense, as we consistently overran our man – leading to far too many easy baskets for our competition. Icon passing didn’t always work as easily as we would have liked either.
The real guts of Live this season continues to be The Crown, a user profile on steroids that encourages partaking in all aspects of the game, from franchise games to Be A Pro to minigames, The Crown tracks your personal stats and consistently gives you new goals to shoot for, and steady progress unlocks an avalanche of throwback jerseys which are always crowd-pleasers. The Crown may not be new this year (it’s been around for a couple of seasons now) but it still keeps us coming back for more.
What is new this year is a beefed-up Be A Pro, a carryover from Live’s console cousin and a welcome addition that gives Live more legs than it’s had before. Not only can you create your own player from scratch and dole out attributes from a given bucket (no, you can’t make your guy an Atomic Superman from the get-go), but your games are played from a different perspective than standard ones. This makes it easier to manage your locked-in self. It’s a small touch, but it’s smartly handled and definitely appreciated.
We also confess that we’re suckers for the international game, and the FIBA World Championships (replete with Olympic-style three-point lines and triangular lanes) always get us going. There’s something about getting Kobe, LeBron, CP3, and the rest of the gang together to dispatch of foes mighty and meek that never gets old.
While NBA Live may not be our absolute favorite portable hoops game this fall, it definitely holds its own as a worthwhile investment of $40. Yes, that’s 10 more bucks than you’ll pay for The Inside or 2K10 (something to consider, for sure), but there’s plenty to keep you busy all season long.
Oct 20, 2009