Disinterested teammates aren't the only problem with NBA Live 10. The basketball itself is the biggest issue. It simply does not act like a real rubber ball. Players frequently clip right through it, making steals, rebounds, and blocks much more difficult than necessary. If you know that TJ Ford is trying to force a pass to Danny Granger on the low block, you can position a defender between the two. However, more often than not, the ball will pass clean through your defender, which is incredibly frustrating. The same ethereal properties exist when you're trying to block or go for a steal, and you'll watch in horror as your hand passes clean through the ball while your opponent scores another bucket. Furthermore, players lose interest as soon as you slap the ball away from them. In one game we played, Deron Williams poked the ball away from Tony Parker, and the French point guard just stood still, whereas in real life, he would almost certainly have dove on the floor to recover the loose ball.
Online Leagues let you create an NBA in which every team is controlled by one of your buddies. You can have up to 30 members, and the commissioner can mess with settings, such as abolishing trades or allowing owners to compete in a fantasy draft to sculpt their own perfect franchise. There's also a mode called Adidas Live that replaces the disappointing Be a Pro mode from last year's edition. This is a five-on-five competition where every person selects just one NBA star to play as, and you can't switch to another player midgame. If you can't get enough of your friends to play, the computer will take control of any extras players. Although you cannot create your own character in this mode, it's still a lot of fun. Setting picks for your friends or running a perfect backdoor cut to get open feels a lot like playing a pick-up game in real life, and without fouls getting called, the game moves at a good pace. It's a shame there isn't more depth in this mode because from a basketball perspective, it's a really good time. But without any long term incentives or the ability to create your own player, it feels like a missed opportunity.
Typical NBA player: Beno signs a huge contract and promptly becomes a vampire.
The presentation has been overhauled this year to create an energetic atmosphere that builds on the excitement on the court. The crowd cheers with vigor at all the appropriate times, making an explosive dunk that much more exhilarating. Bench players get a little too into the action at times--it doesn't make much sense for a veteran team like the Spurs to be going bonkers in the first quarter of a meaningless game--but it's still cool to see your inactive teammates cheering on your efforts. Players usually move realistically, whether they're pulling back for a step-back three or shaking their heads in disgust at a bad call. There are some awkward movements--usually when you go up for a rebound or block--but the animation is generally smooth. The commentary isn't quite as authentic, though. Marv Albert and Steve Kerr provide the occasional insight, but they are often inaccurate and usually slow. It's just baffling when you cut the lead from five down to two points and hear, "Troy Murphy has evened the score." The excitement of the crowd makes listening to the action worthwhile, but don't expect the commentators to add much to the atmosphere.
NBA Live 10 won't change the way you play digital basketball, but it's a good representation of the sport. Playing through a Dynamic DNA-enhanced season is engaging, letting you live through the peaks and valleys of the real season. There are a few quirks in the action, such as a glitchy ball and sometimes-disinterested teammates, but the action is pretty sharp. The pick-and-roll system is easy to take advantage of, and the huge amount of plays at your disposal make the game more strategic than previous basketball sims. Despite a few faults, NBA Live 10 is a fun game and a strong addition to the franchise.