Review: NBA 10: The Inside (PSP)October 6th, 2009 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: Reviews, Sony PSP
We can’t say we’re surprised to see that NBA 10: The Inside is a PSP exclusive this year after what we saw of the latest PS3 version of the series last fall. Luckily, the PSP versions have usually been decent options for basketball-loving PSP owners due to a lack of competition and some of the special PSP bonuses that didn’t appear in their console counterparts. NBA 10 continues that tradition with a massive amount of minigames and alternate modes to go along side the expected franchise and playoff modes you expect of every NBA game today.
Calling itself the “#1 Rated NBA Sim on PSP” for three years in a row on its cover, NBA 10 sets some expectations for the gameplay that the game doesn’t really live up that kind of billing. The style of the NBA that’s emulated here is more like one where the fast, high-scoring Phoenix Suns of a few years ago rule the roost rather than the teams that do lead the pack today, which play defense well along with having a good offense. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be an entertaining game, but you should temper your expectations of how the game plays if you intend to pick it up.
NBA 10’s shooting mechanic is a fairly simple color-coded system with a circle around the ball that changes from red to green in mid-jump to let you know when it’s best to follow through with the shot. The main issue is that the best window for that is smaller than you’d expect, so going for a lay-up or dunk is much of more of a sure thing that you tend to avoid having to shoot as often as possible. The other reason for avoiding jumpshots is that the defense is way too good at blocking, so unless you’re open or you have some momentum to not be jumping straight up, you have no chance of getting the shot off, let alone having it go in. Add in the ease for your AI teammates to grab passes for steals and you have the general building blocks of a game that’s all about a faster style of offense that is at least a bit more entertaining to watch than the alternatives.
Another issue with NBA 10 is the lack of options in the game. There are no sliders to at least help you tailor the gameplay to the way you’d like it to behave. Before you think about starting up a franchise, you really do have to play a few exhibition games to find the right quarter length for you since that particular option is permanent for a franchise once you finish the creation process. Any other standard feature that’s not here is the ability to have the AI make timeouts and substitutions for you, which is odd when you know that game does take injured players out of your lineup in the franchise mode for you.
Outside of the expected modes, NBA 10 includes a ton of minigames that appeal more to the portable aspect of the PSP. The general gist of these modes seems to be that the developers created as many as they could to show that they emphasized quantity over quality when coming up with most of them. The Conquest mode, a turn-based strategy mode where battles are decided on the court, now offers a few alternate play styles that are mainly just incorporating dodge ball, give & go, and other minigames that are decent alternatives if you’ve played the returning, more traditional options to death. There are some decent team and solo minigames that are better for getting practice for certain types of situations when you don’t want to play more of the traditional modes. For the other basketball-inspired minigames, there are decent clones of Breakout and Bust-A-Move and a series of pinball tables with various basketball themes, though none of these games are good enough that you’d get addicted to them.
NBA 10 looks about as good as you can really expect from a PSP basketball game. The players have a decent amount of detail to them, though you’ll notice in free throws that they are a bit blocky with some added shine to their arms to represent sweat. The faces look good on a few players, but some of the bodies look a bit odd for bigger guys like Shaq compared to his teammate Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The framerate is pretty good on the court, though it drops enough when substitutions happen after free throws, fouls, and timeouts that you fear that the game has frozen each time it happens. The commentary itself is decent, though it’s the long delays to reacting to big plays that makes it easy to just mute the game when you want to put a few games into your franchise.
NBA 10: The Inside isn’t going to blow you away in any aspect of the game since it just offers a decent game of portable basketball that will be enjoyable by those that can accept its flaws. Just looking at what NBA 09 offered last year, you might as well use the $29.99 that you’d pay for this year’s game and get what is essentially the same game without the added fluff for a cheaper price.