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EA sports has leaped into the NBA season with their chin up and chest out as they attempt to offer up a basketball simulation that can compete with the yearly offering from 2K Sports, who have taken great pleasure throughout recent times for consistently offering up a better game. Even though purists of the game would agree, it’s hard for kiwis like me to admit 2K Sport’s dominance over the years, as their games have had a relatively short life span on our shores. For years EA Sports went unchallenged in Aotearoa, as basketballers across the country enjoyed pixelated basketball on their Sega Megadrives and other similar systems. Times do change however and a solid release from EA Sports this year have them looking to compete well against NBA 2K10

The first change you may (or may not) notice in the game, is the tweaking of the Dynamic DNA system. Introduced last year, the system allowed minor, real time adjustments in player attributes, which really only would have been noticed by the hardcore. In Live 10, player attributes are updated daily to reflect real world changes, then integrated into your season allowing you to play through the real life events with your team. Player trades, injuries and other real world events are all incorporated into your season allowing you to create your own version of the NBA season. While fun, most people tend to play the Dynasty mode as the Dynamic season doesn’t really offer much control to the gamer. Dynasty mode starts you off by hiring staff for the upcoming season and then preparing your players by training them through the academy training games. This game mode always delivers and this year is no different.

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Finally one of my biggest wishes has come through on NBA Live, that’s the inclusion of the Tall Blacks in the FIFA tournament game mode. We are easily one of the better basketball nations in world and although we have taken a step backwards since our top four finish at the 2004 World Championships, still deserve to feature in the line up for this mode. The only problem here is, developers failed to consider what our players look like. Kirk Penny is sporting a hair cut more suited to a surfer and Pero Cameron looks to weigh about 75kg! A little disappointing, but it is great to be able to play as your own country,

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Game play is pretty solid this year, with the shooting system simplified and more emphasis placed on player defence. Instead of having several buttons to execute jump shots, lay-ups and dunks, all shots are mapped to one button. Using the analogue sticks allow you to make additions to your shots, attacking the left and right sides of the backboard for the bank shot, leaning in or fading away. The post has also had a makeover in Live 10, with players less likely to be able to abuse this area of the game. In previous versions of the game, you could always fall to your money shot in the post, which often consisted of a head fake or spin move for the easy bucket. Instead of using a modifier to post up your player, simply catching near the post will put you into position. From here you can use the right analogue stick to toy with a few moves, but it seems to be defended much better this year.

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Another new feature this year is Adidas Live Run. This game mode allows for ten players to connect online and run a five-on-five game, which has now become the norm in most sports games by EA. With a built in squad system, you can form teams with other users and maintain a record and stats as you face off against other groups. The mode isn’t overly great, but if you recall when FIFA first experimented with a similar mode. To be honest, I experienced quite a bit of lag paying this mode, to the point where I had to disconnect – by my internet is practically at dial up speed so you may need to try this one for yourself.

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By far the best component of NBA Live 10 is the visual aspect of the game. Players look as realistic as any sports game, with the finest of detail clearly visible. Often this has been all that EA Sports have been able to offer up over the 2K series, but this year could be a different story. While I don’t feel the Live series is quite there yet, 2K Sports need to take notice if they wish to retain their crown through to 2011.

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