NBA 2K10 Review (Wii)
Over the past couple of years, I have reviewed a number of Wii games for Operation Sports. During this time, I have noticed that most of the games fall into one of two categories: those that are built from the "ground up" to take full advantage of the Wii (Wii Sports, EA Active, etc.), and those that are reworked versions of 360/PS3 counterparts, like the All-Play series of games from EA.
The point is, when games are ported to the Wii, very few of them retain all of the features and modes from the "main" iterations. Which is what sets NBA 2K10 apart from the rest. Yet, frustratingly, it leads to the game's share of problems, too.
Beyond this point, the phrase "...for a Wii game" seems to sum up this basketball experience. The graphics are not great, but they are not bad "for a Wii game." Commentary and presentation are top notch, again "for a Wii game." Controls and frame rate, online functionality and just about all elements of this game can be categorized with that same phrase. Some people may view that as positive, others may not.
But first, let’s jump into the specifics. The modes of the 360/PS3 version are here, including Association mode, NBA Today, My Player, NBA Blacktop and the rest. Again, in an era where franchise mode is an unlockable in Madden 10 for Wii, it’s very refreshing to see everything together in a complete package.
Another big surprise was the constant online functionality that is present in this game. Too often, Wii games are burdened by clunky online modes that are hindered by Nintendo’s arcane networking. But here, you are immediately greeted with the NBA Today interface. In addition, 2K Share is present and easy to navigate, though, there’s not much (yet) to actually share.
But if you want to play someone online, you still have to use the Friend Code system that has plagued past Wii games. NBA 2K10 makes the best out of what’s invariably a bad situation.
The graphics definitely have a little old school touch.
Old School Graphics?
The same might be said for the graphics in NBA 2K10. The Wii is certainly not known for its graphical prowess, hence the stripped down or stylized art found in most sports games. Here, in a simulation-style game, "arcading it up" is not exactly an option. The results, unfortunately, lead to something that looks like a very scaled down Xbox 360 game.
For instance, many of the presentation elements are hard to read -- it's like none of the art had been changed, just made low res. Faces are decidedly last generation. Crowds are strictly 2-D.
At a distance, it’s not too bad, but any close-up shots ruin the illusion. Similarly, when the camera moves too far back and into "depth of field" territory, stuff just looks blurry. The frame rate also slows down at this point, so I’m not sure why that graphical option was even included.
Again, it’s not terrible, especially when compared to other games on the Wii. It’s just so old looking that it makes you want to get your hands on another version.
For those of you stuck with the Wii as your only option for sim basketball, you may have issues with the controls. Again, that phrase "...for a Wii game" comes to mind. The controls not uncontrollable or broken by any means -- especially in comparison with some of the awful Wii sports games out there -- but they can be clunky, frustrating and nowhere near as natural and fluid as the controls in the other versions of the game.
Personally, I found it to be an exercise in futility and frustration when playing the game with the Wii remote and Nunchuk. That setup does work, but it just seemed too unresponsive and laggy to make it worthwhile. I quickly abandoned this control style for the Classic Controller, perhaps too early. Those willing to put in the time to train yourself to play with the Wii remote and Nunchuk may eventually be rewarded. To me, it’s not a natural transition to use the Wii remote for basketball, unlike baseball or even football.
The Classic Controller worked fine, except occasionally you are required to push buttons on the standard Wii remote. This does not usually occur during gameplay, but while navigating menus -- so a pretty minor quibble.
...Same Great Gameplay
On the court, this game plays pretty much like the other versions, at least from my limited time with the Xbox 360 version and reading the OS review. It feels like a 2K basketball game, although maybe a little more sluggish than what I am used to. With the Classic controller, it’s easy to move the ball up the court, dribbling feels fine, and the shot stick is as responsive as ever.
There are also a few issues with the gameplay on the default settings. Shot percentages were way too high, even though scores were too low. AI players were not always responsive. I felt like my center and forwards did not always move off their men to cover the lane (see: help defense). These issues would probably be rectified with the necessary slider tweaks.
So, if you only own a Wii, I do not think you are going to be disappointed with what you are getting in NBA 2K10. It’s a complete package, not a "kiddyfied" anime sports game. It’s also not NBA-lite or NBA for people who don’t watch basketball. It’s a full-fledged simulation game on a system that is getting less and less "real" sports games.
That said, it has its issues, namely the default Wii controls and graphics. But on this console, those things tend to be the weaknesses of any "sim" sports game. Again, "...for a Wii game" this one is actually pretty good.
On the Court: The sim-oriented gameplay you have always loved, now on the Wii. Switch to the Classic Controller, and you will be happier. Presentation is outstanding.
Graphics: Probably the worst aspect of the game. What does not look like a PS2 game (circa-2002) looks like a really low-res version of a newer game.
Sound Design: Pretty good commentary. I love the upcoming game reports during a franchise.
Entertainment Value: You are getting the full product here, with numerous modes and features. If you are a Wii gamer, you will be pleasantly surprised with all that’s on the disc.
Learning Curve: If you have never played a 2K basketball game before, plan to spend some time getting used to things. Plan on spending more time learning if you do npt have the Classic Controller.
Online: This game does a great job of incorporating online features throughout. 2K Share is a welcome, if underused, component. Friend Codes make playing online a chore.
Score: 7.5 (Good)