Review: NBA 10 The Inside (Sony PSP)

NBA10_PSPcoversheet09-3_ATP-a copyNBA 10 The Inside
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment America, San Diego
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc.
Genre: Sports
Release Date: 10/06/2009

I was one of those kids in high school who played basketball and could follow a game, but was picked last because, well, I’m terrible at it. I’m a big guy, can’t run very well, my arms get tired, and so on. I kind of quit watching back when Jordan retired the first time, mainly because I had other interests and my family wasn’t watching it so much anymore. So imagine my surprise when this showed up for me to review! Really, you’re getting as un-biased a review of this game as you can get as there were like two players I recognized and I picked teams based on their strengths listed by the game and less on which one I thought was the best.

Story/Modes
There are a ton of ways to waste time with this game. You don’t just have the season mode and the single game mode; no, there are a ton of mini-games that you can play with this one. Some were a lot of fun, but some left me scratching my head as to why they were in an NBA game, like bowling.

Exhibition is pretty much how it sounds. It’s one game with the option to select from current NBA teams as well as the All Star teams. There is the option to play a tournament within the exhibition games which can be interesting, especially if you don’t want all the involvement of franchise mode. Think of it like moving up the ladder in Mortal Kombat. You can also play against other people in this mode using your PSP wireless. Quick Play is actually listed separately from Exhibition but it kind of falls in this.

screen001Franchise mode is like Exhibition mode, but far more involved. You’ll have to trade, coach, play draft and trade through several seasons. Needless to say only having a passing interest in basketball didn’t make this mode very easy for me to play with. I don’t know all the ins and outs and I think someone much more into basketball would have gotten more out of this end of it. It was still neat to play with, and I think given enough time I could master it a bit more.

Playoffs is just that. They have teams from last year’s playoffs ready to go, or you can do it random teams, or select who you want involved. There’s also Practice which is self-explanatory and the All Star Weekend which lets you play an actual game and also has a skills challenge and a 3 point shootout.

But wait, there’s more! Tired of just playing basketball? They’ve got what they call Block Party in this. There’s a pick up game that let’s you pick your own team, just like you would say down at a park, only it’s NBA players. Dodgeball with a few twists, Conquest where you basically move from city to city taking them over by winning games. There’s also an Elimination game where you score points to eliminate players and whoever eliminates 4 of them first wins. Then there are the carnival games, like bang the boards where you have to guess how many rebounds you can pull and then do that, or even pinball. There’s a lot going on here besides just playing straight up basketball, which is great and had me goofing off with this game for hours on end.

Story/Modes Rating: Incredible

screen002Graphics
This is a title on the PSP, but that being said, it looks pretty good for a title on my favorite handheld. The animations are smooth and aren’t jerky, everything flows pretty well. The screenshots I’ve seen really don’t make it look as good as it plays. Again though, this is a PSP title and this isn’t God of War or Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII. It’s not as pretty as it could be, but I think if they’d upped it too much we wouldn’t have the smooth flow the game has now. It works for the small screen, but this isn’t one of those titles I’d put up on my big screen TV to play. It’s just not that impressive visually.

Graphics Rating: Good

screen003Sound
With any sports game you’re going to get some repeating in the announcing. It was always there in the older Smackdown games, and even a bit in Madden NFL 10, but like Madden, it wasn’t too bad here. They’ve got Kenny Smith and Ian Eagle doing commentary and for the most part it’s dead on to the action and how well you’re doing while you’re playing which is great. I’ve played some games where what the commentators are saying has absolutely nothing to do with how well you’re doing, but that’s not the case here.

The sound otherwise is decent. The music selection isn’t to my liking, but I think Madden spoiled me for that this year for sports games with so many great songs I did like. You’ve got your typical sounds of the game and not a whole lot else. I was more worried about what was going on screen than what I was hearing anyway, and I only really noticed the music and such in the menus. One thing I did notice, and this has been true on almost every PSP title I’ve owned, the commentary can break up a bit as the game loads it from the UMD, which can be distracting but it’s definitely not a game breaker.

Sound Rating: Good

screen004Control and Gameplay
The game does play and control really well. You can call plays with you d-pad, move with the analog stick and the face buttons pass and block and shoot. It’s responsive and not where my problems with the game lie. The controls are great.

Gameplay had a few issues. While you can call plays, I found that if I was playing on harder settings, my teammate AI didn’t follow the plays. I had no issues when I was playing on lower settings, but on harder settings you’re basically carrying the team around with you, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Airplane. It gets a bit ridiculous when Cleveland (one of the higher ranked teams in game) gets smoked by a team with like two dots. It’s like as soon as you play in the higher difficulty brackets they forget how to steal the ball or accept passes leading to a ton of frustration.

I found my comfort zone in the difficulty setting just below Veteran, but again I’m not very skilled with this. I do think however that your team should be able to keep up AI wise with the opponent AI without you having to cover the whole court on your own.

The mini-games are all pretty decent and fun to play with and are great time wasters when you’re not sure you want to trudge through a whole game or even a quick play match. Even on the shortened quarters games can run for awhile, especially if you tend to get fouled or foul a lot.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Very Good

screen005Replayability
With all of the mini-games, multiplayer, and the ticket system to unlock things like new uniforms and vintage NBA swag, this game could have people coming back for awhile. Especially with how much fun the various mini-games are and how well the game responds. I only wish the difficulty thing wasn’t so much of a thing, as I think that may frustrate many of us non-veterans. There’s a lot of variety here and Franchise mode alone could have people coming back to this to try different things to be number one.

Replayability Rating: Classic

Balance
For all you get with this game, it’s priced really, really well. With all the mini-games, the quick play, the exhibition and multi-player, you’re getting a ton of content with this game for about $20 less than I though it would have gone for. Which is awesome.

My only real problem lies with the AI issues in the Veteran difficulty, but again, that’s the hardest setting, so maybe that’s how it should be. I sucked in basketball in high school and that really took me back to that, so maybe it’s just rubbing salt in what I thought was a closed wound. Everything else about this game worked out really well and I was completely happy with how it played and how well the AI responded to what I wanted it to do. So I’m chalking that up to just me.

Balance Rating: Amazing

screen006Originality
How original can you be with a basketball game? I mean the sports titles come out yearly now, there’s not much you want to do with it so you keep it playing like a real basketball game. The mini-games were a very nice add-in to help on this end, but pinball and bowling have been done to death. This is the first time I’ve seen dodgeball dropped into a basketball game though, so I’ll have to give them that. And the conquest mode. It was like playing Star Wars Battlefront, only you’re playing basketball instead of wasting all the droids on a planet to take it over. That was fun.

Originality Rating: Decent

Addictiveness
I’ve already said I’m not a huge basketball nut, but I did find myself playing this quite often and carting my PSP around with me all over the place which is something I haven’t done in months. If I was into basketball I think I’d be all over this one even more than I am, especially with franchise mode. The mini-games were one of my nice distractions, especially when you’re playing this on your lunch break and don’t really have time to get into much else.

Addictiveness Rating: Very Good

screen007Appeal Factor
It’s a really well done basketball game for my favorite handheld. And it’s priced really well. $30 brand new? Hell’s yeah! Between the pricing and the fact that it plays pretty well for the most part, I think this one might get some attention. Is it going to be a best-seller? Maybe not, but it is well done and most basketball fans with a PSP probably won’t pass it up.

Appeal Factor Rating: Great

Miscellaneous
I’ve had a rough week this week with a long commute and another week coming with more of the same, and this game helped me get through that. It could have been terrible and totally sucked and dragged my mood down, but it wasn’t and it didn’t. It gave me a nice boost at mid-day after I got done eating and put a smile back on my face. That more than anything really speaks to me. There are tons of frustrating and crappy titles out there. Happily, this isn’t one of them.

Miscellaneous Rating: Incredible

The Scores
Story/Modes Rating: Incredible
Graphics Rating: Good
Sound Rating: Good
Control and Gameplay Rating: Very Good
Replayability Rating: Classic
Balance Rating: Amazing
Originality Rating: Decent
Addictiveness Rating: Very Good
Appeal Factor Rating: Great
Miscellaneous Rating: Incredible
FINAL SCORE: GREAT GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
asheresize A well priced, good looking, decent playing, stuffed to the gills PSP basketball title. I honestly didn’t think I’d be saying this when I first opened this one up, but it was a lot of fun reviewing this one and I’m glad it made it’s way to me. I think any PSP owner who’s a basketball fan should have this title. Between the smooth gameplay and all the extras, you really get your money’s worth on this one, which isn’t something I’ve gotten to say very often with some of the game’s I’m reviewing.

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