nba2EA should be commended for its efforts to bring full-fledged sports games such as Madden 10 and FIFA 10 to the iPhone/iPod Touch platform. While they haven’t been perfect, they certainly have elevated the playing field for competitors. The latest addition is targeted at the basketball aficionados with NBA Live 10, which is probably the best of the bunch with balanced AI, easy-to-use controls, and most importantly, engaging gameplay. While those looking for a true console-quality experience should stick to your PC, PSP or XBox, those simply looking for a high-quality basketball game on the iPhone platform should strongly consider NBA Live 10.

NBA Live has all 30 NBA teams and their player rosters with photos and statistics are at your disposal. The game has several play modes—Exhibition, Season and Playoff. Exhibition mode allows you to play a quick single game using your favorite team. Season mode takes you through a choice of 12, 20, 41 or 82-game season tracking season statistics and standings leading to the playoffs. Playoff mode gives you the option to play a single, 3, 5 or 7-game playoff series. Each mode provides numerous customization options such as quarter length from 1-12 minutes each, but two areas worth noting are penalty enforcement (easy, medium, hard), and most importantly, 3 levels of gameplay difficulty (Rookie, Veteran, All-Star).

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The AI can become significantly challenging based on how you set the penalty enforcement and gameplay difficulty. Shot clock violations, out of bounds, reach-in fouls and shooting are all enforced. By increasing the degree of penalty enforcement, additional penalties are leveled. With medium, fouling out and goal tending are included, while hard adds backcourt violations, charging and 8-second violations.

The graphics and animation are solid for the device with minimal lag on my iPod Touch 2g. The different stadiums and arenas are well represented, although the players can look Lego-like. Running up and down the court with multiple simultaneous animations, NBA Live doesn’t experience much stutter. The game includes optional commentary from Marv Albert. Like most games, the commentary is repetitive, but generally fit with the current game situation. In addition, 15 music tracks from artists like Matt and Kim, Snoop Dogg and Xzibit are included and playing your own music is also allowed. Other options are choice of camera angles (broadcast and baseline), left/right flip controls, and horizontal or vertical button layouts.

nba1NBA Live’s two-button control set-up may appear limiting, but it does make the game intuitively easier and more responsive than FIFA 10. NBA Live uses a virtual control stick for maneuvering players up and down the court along with a pair of blue and red buttons. These action buttons can be used to do different actions depending on if your team is on offense or defense. On offense, the blue button is used for passing and the red button to shoot. Depending on how long you hold a button, other options appear. For example, holding down the blue (pass) button will bring up icons for other players each identified by risk for making a pass. Tapping a player icon will then deliver the pass. Meanwhile, flicking the blue button will bring up juke and crossover moves. Pressing and holding on the red button lets you shoot the ball and releasing at the peak of the jump increases your chances of scoring. Simply tapping the red button will create a pump fake, while flicking when driving to the basket will result in a dunk. And depending on the direction you flick, different dunks can be unleashed. Blocking, rebounding and stealing controls are also offered.

One of the game's nicer features is the ability to call plays. The Clipboard icon in the top right is used to select plays on offense and defense. For example, you can select zone or a 4-1 offensive play set as well as specific plays such as a pick and roll or set up for a 3-pointer. On defense, a limited set of play sets are available such as man to man, and various zone set ups.

Team management is probably one of the weak spots for NBA Live. Trading and customizing rosters is done by dragging and dropping player names and profiles between select teams. Like Madden 10, there are no roster limitations based on salaries, although teams are required to have certain position players, which tends to make team management shallow and less than fulfilling. You can easily create your own dream team without too many restrictions. A nice touch, however, is the addition of Legend Players such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Dr. J, which are unlocked based on your progress through the season.

The gameplay is as good as you would expect with NBA Live, and a lot of this goes back to the controls and AI. The simplified control set up should make this game accessible to a broader audience. The AI works smoothly and ratchets up nicely playing an intelligent offensive and defensive game. NBA Live 10 delivers a fun and immersive basketball game. Whether playing a quick game or a more prolonged season mode, the game is a solid offering and provides a good degree customization without too many complex controls. Given the overly easy AI in Madden 10 and the high learning curve of FIFA 10, NBA Live 10 seems to be right in the middle balancing the appropriate challenge within a manageable environment.

App Store Link: NBA Live, $9.99

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://www.monicadickey.com Monica Dickey

    I think this would be fun, I don't really have any sports games. I'm not sure if I'm ready to spend $10 on it though.

  • http://www.monicadickey.com Monica Dickey

    I think this would be fun, I don't really have any sports games. I'm not sure if I'm ready to spend $10 on it though.

  • http://musicgamespickles.blogspot.com/ Robert M.

    I'm sold...downloading now!!

  • http://musicgamespickles.blogspot.com/ Robert M.

    I'm sold...downloading now!!

  • QuebecRage

    I'm not a fan of basketball but I might give this one a try. Now I am only hoping for one thing....please EA....please...give us NHL on the iPhone.

  • QuebecRage

    I'm not a fan of basketball but I might give this one a try. Now I am only hoping for one thing....please EA....please...give us NHL on the iPhone.

  • http://touchreviews.tk Qasim

    Wow. Good job EA. I'm surprised on this one. This looks excellent.

    I'll definitely pick this one up. Great review!

  • http://touchreviews.tk Qasim

    Wow. Good job EA. I'm surprised on this one. This looks excellent.

    I'll definitely pick this one up. Great review!

  • brownzfreak

    I've played a few games already and it's not bad. I have noticed one glitch though.On a lot of the dunks it appears that it gets blocked and taken out of the dunker's hand but the basket counts. The slo mo replays of the dunks appear that way as well. I guess that's being picky but hopefully they fix that. Overall it's pretty good though.

  • brownzfreak

    I've played a few games already and it's not bad. I have noticed one glitch though.On a lot of the dunks it appears that it gets blocked and taken out of the dunker's hand but the basket counts. The slo mo replays of the dunks appear that way as well. I guess that's being picky but hopefully they fix that. Overall it's pretty good though.

  • DeShaunz

    You can play your own music but not during the game. Only on the menus, that's a little strange lol

  • DeShaunz

    You can play your own music but not during the game. Only on the menus, that's a little strange lol

  • Steve H

    Will have to wait to see some more reactions on this one. I grew up playing NES and Genesis sports titles. Now that I have a PS3 and developers can depict the game of basketball with such nuance it's hard to justify going back 10 years in time to a lesser console experience. I really think there are some titles that the console can't do as well as the iPhone because of touch capability but I don't think sports are one of them -- unless done in a casual cartoony manner.

    • RNF

      I hear ya! They spoiled the heck out of us!

  • Steve H

    Will have to wait to see some more reactions on this one. I grew up playing NES and Genesis sports titles. Now that I have a PS3 and developers can depict the game of basketball with such nuance it's hard to justify going back 10 years in time to a lesser console experience. I really think there are some titles that the console can't do as well as the iPhone because of touch capability but I don't think sports are one of them -- unless done in a casual cartoony manner.

    • RNF

      I hear ya! They spoiled the heck out of us!

  • murph

    Booo. NBA Live over NHL 10? I want some hockey action on my iPhone!!

  • murph

    Booo. NBA Live over NHL 10? I want some hockey action on my iPhone!!

  • Trey D

    Looks like Venan nailed another one! Those guys continue to impress.

  • Trey D

    Looks like Venan nailed another one! Those guys continue to impress.

  • rodneyJacobs

    Hockey Sucks. THIS gAME iS iNCREDIBLE.

    NBALIVE10>MADDEN10 BY 100,000,000 miles!!!!

    • monkeys

      I feel the same way about basketball. Does the NBA have any fans with triple digit IQs left?

      • SalsaMD

        Yes, an abundance.

  • rodneyJacobs

    Hockey Sucks. THIS gAME iS iNCREDIBLE.

    NBALIVE10>MADDEN10 BY 100,000,000 miles!!!!

    • monkeys

      I feel the same way about basketball. Does the NBA have any fans with triple digit IQs left?

      • SalsaMD

        Yes, an abundance.

  • e$

    game is super sweet. Smooth gameplay. So much fun makes me wanna sell my pet monkey cause i have no time for it now that i have this game.

  • e$

    game is super sweet. Smooth gameplay. So much fun makes me wanna sell my pet monkey cause i have no time for it now that i have this game.

  • Felipe

    I found a bug. When you're taking a free throw, the one who is supposed to shoot doesnt. For example, Ray Allen is the one supposed to take it, he is standing there, but the one who actually shoots the ball is Rajon Rondo who is standing on the side. This isnt just 1 time, it happened 7 times during one game lol.

    • e$

      yeah i found another i started a season and it wont record my wins it keeps making me start over like im at at game one. Sucks

  • Felipe

    I found a bug. When you're taking a free throw, the one who is supposed to shoot doesnt. For example, Ray Allen is the one supposed to take it, he is standing there, but the one who actually shoots the ball is Rajon Rondo who is standing on the side. This isnt just 1 time, it happened 7 times during one game lol.

    • e$

      yeah i found another i started a season and it wont record my wins it keeps making me start over like im at at game one. Sucks

  • Gadm

    This game is great, thanks for the review BA, put personally, i think Madden10=Fifa10=NBA10 , of course, they need to be fixed and improvement (dont burn Fifa for controls, once you get used to them u realized they are fine with alot of options to perform, and it has tons of content), I think they are well done to the platform, thinking that one year ago we just had a few games, and now we have console games for the idevice. obviously you can't expect a console game experience, but I had the best mobile device exp. Thanks EA, keep updating with new games, like NHL

  • Gadm

    This game is great, thanks for the review BA, put personally, i think Madden10=Fifa10=NBA10 , of course, they need to be fixed and improvement (dont burn Fifa for controls, once you get used to them u realized they are fine with alot of options to perform, and it has tons of content), I think they are well done to the platform, thinking that one year ago we just had a few games, and now we have console games for the idevice. obviously you can't expect a console game experience, but I had the best mobile device exp. Thanks EA, keep updating with new games, like NHL

  • hockeyfight

    This game looks awful. In the video the announcer says the same things over and over. The controls dont look very good and looks really slow overall.

  • hockeyfight

    This game looks awful. In the video the announcer says the same things over and over. The controls dont look very good and looks really slow overall.

  • mork

    having the thumbstick float anywhere on the left of the screen is sooooo much better than in FIFA. i finally got used to the two-button slide thing, but the thumbstick is totally shithouse. EA should update it to use one like this.

  • mork

    having the thumbstick float anywhere on the left of the screen is sooooo much better than in FIFA. i finally got used to the two-button slide thing, but the thumbstick is totally shithouse. EA should update it to use one like this.

  • rodneyjacobs

    Hey hockey fans. Its too bad the NBA is worth about a Billion dollars more than hockey is. Whens the last time a hockey game got over a 2 rating on t.v. lol While the NFL, MLB and the NBA are dominating the market, Isn't it sad that hockey revenue is on par with Nascar lol But then again they both arent real sports anyway, so i'm not surprised their ratings stink lol No wonder nobody wants to waste time making apps for them lol

  • rodneyjacobs

    Hey hockey fans. Its too bad the NBA is worth about a Billion dollars more than hockey is. Whens the last time a hockey game got over a 2 rating on t.v. lol While the NFL, MLB and the NBA are dominating the market, Isn't it sad that hockey revenue is on par with Nascar lol But then again they both arent real sports anyway, so i'm not surprised their ratings stink lol No wonder nobody wants to waste time making apps for them lol

  • Doggpound

    Oncer we are not on 3Gs, the game is kind of a nightmare, with many lag, and not as smooth as wanted animations.
    The gfx are a bit too grey, but this is just my point of view.
    But since we are talking about a besketball game, this game is just scandalous... Where is the AI? Nothing move, the game pace is so slow. The controls need time to be learned well, but can be interesting at the end.
    Definetly not a good basketball game but a decent iPhone game.
    For basketball fan, I would had put a 6 out of 10.
    I do not why, it would had been another company than EA (Who had mentioned Gameloft), the comments would had been not that good...

  • Doggpound

    Oncer we are not on 3Gs, the game is kind of a nightmare, with many lag, and not as smooth as wanted animations.
    The gfx are a bit too grey, but this is just my point of view.
    But since we are talking about a besketball game, this game is just scandalous... Where is the AI? Nothing move, the game pace is so slow. The controls need time to be learned well, but can be interesting at the end.
    Definetly not a good basketball game but a decent iPhone game.
    For basketball fan, I would had put a 6 out of 10.
    I do not why, it would had been another company than EA (Who had mentioned Gameloft), the comments would had been not that good...

  • rodneyjacobs

    You need to spend money and buy a 3gs. My game runs super smooth with fast action and great graphics. 10 out of 10 and a superior basketball game on my device.

  • rodneyjacobs

    You need to spend money and buy a 3gs. My game runs super smooth with fast action and great graphics. 10 out of 10 and a superior basketball game on my device.

  • hockeyfight

    @rodneyjacobs
    your the biggest dumb **** ever. hockey is a real sport. the only realy sport besides boxing and ufc where you can actually fight. the only reason it isnt one of the most popular sports because its extremly expensive and only white people play it (not trying to be racist, but its the truth)

  • hockeyfight

    @rodneyjacobs
    your the biggest dumb **** ever. hockey is a real sport. the only realy sport besides boxing and ufc where you can actually fight. the only reason it isnt one of the most popular sports because its extremly expensive and only white people play it (not trying to be racist, but its the truth)