This is my third year reviewing the NBA 2K series on the Xbox 360, tying NBA Live on the PC for the longest consecutive series of games I’ve reviewed. This allows me a view of how the series has evolved (or de-evolved, in some the NBA Live series’ case). What has changed this year? Allot. Is it for the better? Eh…. kinda.

2K Sports has upped the graphical ante this year with a new skin technology for players and more motion captured animations then ever. Audio-wise, the commentary has finally caught up with the graphics (it’s about time, too). The announcers will comment on current and past events, not only in the current game, but past activity as provided by NBA Today.

NBA Today feeds your game scores, updates, and changes from the NBA daily, and when it works, it’s amazing. I was playing as my hometown Cavs a day after their first preseason game against the Bobcats, and the announcers were commenting on the real Cavs’ victory over Charlotte the day prior. I was very impressed, and I look forward to seeing what it’s like when the season starts. However, I must go back to my clause at the start of this discursion; ‘When it works,’ it’s amazing. When it works. Hmph. When it works isn’t very often, to be honest. I – and most players online – get allot of ‘server not responding’ messages from 2K’s end. This nullifies one of the game’s biggest features (though it’s supposedly going to be stable by the time the season starts), so thankfully, that’s not the only thing 2K10 has going for it.

The game’s second biggest new feature (or biggest new feature, depending on who you ask) is My Player. You create a player at any positions and take him through his career. In short, it’s Superstar mode from Madden. In truth, I like this better then Superstar. The NBA is just better suited for being an individual on the court then the NFL is, where play after play can go by where you have nothing to do with the outcome of the game. I play as – surprise – Bud Daniel, a 6′ pass-first point guard. I’ve found that the game is terribly unforgiving of mental errors. If I fall asleep on defense, I can count of my man either cutting past me or finding someone for an easy score. Defense, at least for me, is very, very hard, which is usually a good thing. What isn’t so good is the Teammate Rating. This thing is finicky as hell. One time a wide open jumpshot is a ‘good shot,’ upping your rating. The next time down the same play is a ‘bad shot.’ The worst offender is ‘bad steal attempt.’ If you try and snatch a ball going past you, you get this demerit. It’s also much easier for your score to drop then rise.

In any case, Bud Daniel got drafted by the Pistons in the second round, which, by the way, put my Cavs-fan’s mentality on end. I got cut in the second round of Training Camp cuts and now play for the Erie Bayhawks in the NBA Developmental League. Will I ever make the pros? Who knows. There’s no indicator of when you’ll get called up. Some kind of chart, or meter, or something showing your chances of making a pro team would be nice.

Technically, this game is mostly sound, except for the NBA Today server’s instability. The only other offender tech-wise, and it’s a biggie, is the framerate. The game has a horrible time keeping the framerate up to snuff. When it drops during the heat of the action, it can kill your enjoyment in no time flat. 2K is supposedly working on a fix, but it’s not available at this time. To wrap this review up, I’d recommend this game to NBA fans everywhere, especially those who’ve often played with player-lock on, pretending they were a single player on the court. To those players (of which I am one), your dream has come true. For most other gamers, provided that 2K can get NBA Today working,  that combined with the always-solid NBA 2K gameplay and AI will make this a must-buy. Alphasim out.