It's the start of a new NBA season. This is exciting for two reasons: a) We get to watch another season of bawful teams getting the hell beat out of them by the small handful of quality teams, and b) We get a new edition of the annual NBA games so that we can beat the hell out of bawful teams in a virtual world. Or, if you're like me and aren’t very good at basketball video games, you can at least take solace in the fact that the NBA games are getting more and more realistic every year, which means there's plenty of potential for virtual bawful.

Everybody's got their horse in the 2K vs. Live wars. I personally opted for the 2K series for a couple of very good reasons. First off, the 2K Series is not made by EA Sports, so it’s got that going for it, which is nice. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there is a PC version, and it only costs $20. Seriously. How can I pass up a game that’s only one-third the cost of its console versions when I have a pretty decent gaming PC that I can hook up to my big screen TV?

Gameplay: Let's get the actual review garbage out of the way. Everybody and their brother have already covered this part on real gaming websites, but I'll throw in my two cents anyway since we're at it.


The general consensus is that the 2K Series has pretty well covered the fundamentals of the sport, aside from the usual assortment of oddities and glitches. Thankfully, the game is very adjustable and customizable, so you can work around some of these things, such as points in the paint being too easy to attain with the default settings.

However, some things can't be fixed. This game is like Mike D'Antoni/Don Nelson wet dream, considering defense is decidedly absent. This isn't to say there isn't any defense (it's still satisfying to occasionally shut down your man), but steals are incredibly rare, fouls don't seem to happen very often even when you try to rough up anybody who dares to penetrate, and shot blocking is nearly non-existent. This doesn't mean, however, that you can pull a Z-Bo and just not bother to play defense. Your teammates are very prone to being out of position when playing normal game modes, leading to lots of open three pointers unless you babysit them and play aggressive defense, and in My Player mode (more on that later), you are solely held responsible for not letting your assigned man score, no matter what the situation.

Graphics and Presentation: Again, this should be fairly well covered in other reviews, but let’s get a little eye candy going here, simply because this game does look phenomenally good.





They even nailed Sheed’s bald patch thing

The commentators in NBA 2K10 are Kevin Harlan, Clark Kellogg and Cheryl Miller. They do a surprisingly great job (even managing to surpass the NBA Live crew that includes the legendary Marv "Yes!" Albert). The commentary is relatively dynamic and usually does a good job of representing the current situation in the game. Also, it integrates with the NBA Today function in the game that looks at how the real-life NBA season is playing out, so it should make things feel more like an NBA game and less like an NBA video game. The biggest advantage of this? It's the closest we've come yet to having prattle tales in a video game. It's only a matter of time, people.

My Player Mode: This is the heart of the bawfulness of NBA 2K10. You get to create your own painfully undertalented player, and then take him through the ranks to hopefully make an NBA roster. Along the way, an annoying-as-hell and overly pessimistic Stephen A. Smith doppelganger criticizes every single thing you do. If you let your man score four points on you during a game, he will complain about how you "let your man drop so many points on you, I lost count!" Sadly, I am not exaggerating in the least bit. That actually happened to me in one game. And it is apparently impossible to skip through his constant whining. The only plus is that he loves to quote Larry Bird, so I can deal with him for one year I suppose.

First things first, you get to create your own player.

Wait, this isn’t the ABA and it isn't the 70s. Why am I rocking a white boy fro?

You can choose your name, school, and nickname ("Shake and Bake!"), and of course your height and weight. There's a nice range of weights, from stick thin (such as yours truly) to morbidly obese, if for some reason you wish to create the spawn of Oliver Miller and Robert "Tractor" Traylor.

Violating the Calorie Cap, 2K style.

After nailing down the basics, you get to work on your facial appearance, which is highly customizable, and your hair. Oh yes, there are plenty of options for your hair style. There's even a "curly" hair option that vaguely resembles a Jheri Curl, for anyone playing whose name is "Debarge."

White corn rows? Brad Miller approves.

A really freaking weird neck patch? Drew Gooden approves.

Now, the most important consideration when creating a player in an NBA game: are there tattoos? Hell yes, there are tattoos.

Nothing says "class" quite like a neck tattoo.

After creating your doppelganger, you are randomly selected by an NBA team to play on their summer league. The first time I created a character, I was picked up by the Nets/Nyets. Does the ruble exchange rate work in my favor right now? I don't know, but just to be safe, I started from scratch. The second time I tried, I was picked up by the Pacers. Well, we all know their propensity for picking random white stiffs, so I felt comfortable that this was a good team for me.

You can try to build some skill by participating in drills, such as shoot, dribbling, post defense, and so forth. Unfortunately, the PC version is extremely broken, and after the first rep of each drill, my controller would stop working, rendering the entire exercise worthless.


However, while working for the Nyets, I was blessed with the following moment. I got to do a post defense drill against Yi Jianlian. Yes, I was Chairman Yi’s folding chair. Yes, I nearly cried I was so happy about this amazing coincidence.

The Chairman!

After you are done wasting time in broken drills, you can participate in Summer League games. Because of course nothing is quite as exciting as running up and down an empty gym with scrub teammates.

The NBA Summer League -- It’s Faaaaaaaaantastic!

During these summer league games, you are given three objectives you are supposed to meet each game. One of these always involves meeting a certain level of approval from your teammates, in an A-to-F grading system. Usually, a C+ is good enough to meet your objective. However, this is easier said than done. Your teammates are unrealistically harsh. They penalize you for turnovers that you do not cause sometimes, they constantly complain about bad shot selection but very, very rarely reward you for good shot selection. You are marked down any time your defensive assignment scores, no matter if it’s because you played matador defense, or if he just got the ball in a nasty turnover caused by your inept teammates. Assists are well-rewarded, as is filling the lane properly on a fast break.

Your teammates obviously like it when you help them score, but not when you score yourself. Understandable, but still frustrating when all of your teammates are throwing up enough bricks to build a house and you are forced to take over the game. It's incredibly easy to lose marks from your teammates, but incredibly difficult to make up that ground. The best approval I have gotten yet from my teammates was a B+, and I had to hit a buzzer-beater three at the end of regulation to force OT in that game. It’s amazing that I even got that rating considering I spent half the game playing shooting guard instead of my usual point guard, and as such was forced to defend a player who was a foot taller and 75 pounds bigger than me.

After playing several games in the Summer League, your performance is evaluated and an NBA team may or may not offer for you to join their NBA D-League team. I haven't gotten to this point yet, so I cannot elaborate much further. However, just the thought of playing in the D-League makes me giddy. Once I have more free time, hopefully I can experience the great joy of playing for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Hopefully, I will not be violated in my sleep by Nightmare Ant.

Living Rosters: Unlike last year’s PC version, we no longer get the short end of the stick compared to console users when it comes to roster updates. Apparently the roster updates don't work correctly in the preseason when it comes to instituting injuries, however.

Shouldn't he be injured right about now? The sun DID rise this morning...

While automatically updated rosters are convenient, there is a nasty downside. Sadly, this means there is a decided lack of Mario West in the game now.

Even his former teammates seem saddened that Mario West is gone.

Facial expressions: One of the touted new parts of this year's game is an improved method of animating the player faces to create more realistic facial expressions. This can only be a good thing as far as bawful gaming is concerned! Considering the following evidence:

Is that an O-face? I think it is.

Visanity. That is all.


Beyond just facial expressions, the players are quite animated. They celebrate big dunks, and they also do not appreciate getting three-second calls.

Feel shame.

Product Placement: Oh, there is a ton of it. The pregame introductions include the Sprite Keys to the Game… Gatorade is a proponent of helping your players regain lost energy...


And of course, T-Mobile sponsors the hell out of everything. Sadly, Charles Barkley is nowhere to be seen. His presence would make the T-Mobile ads infinitely more interesting and/or turrible.

Man Love: Secondly only to tattoos, man love is a vital part of any NBA simulation. Thankfully, 2K Sports understands and respects this.

Oh yes. There is man love in this game.

Mascots: Aside from dancers, cheerleaders, refs, TV camera men, and all the other sideline characters that are crucial to making the game feel like an actual NBA game, you have to have mascots. NBA 2K10 does not disappoint.


Coaches: To truly feel like an NBA game, you can't just have poorly executed basketball by the players. You also have to see the coaches screwing things up.

Ron Jeremy’s evil twin at work.

Conclusion: In spite of a few bugs, this game is well worth the money, especially the PC version. Just $20 for the PC version gets you a good basketball game, and some entertaining bawful. I think this picture sums it up:


About the Author: Dan B. is from Kentucky, the self-proclaimed home of college basketball, and currently resides in the greater Louisville area. When not slaving away at an IT-related Clark Kent job or lamenting the lack of professional basketball in the area (no, the Pacers and Grizzlies do not count), Dan bowls in three leagues a week, watches Pittsburgh Penguins hockey games online because the NHL's TV package sucks, spends entirely too much time jobbing around random blogs, and reads 57 Twitter feeds. Dan one day dreams of the return of the Kentucky Colonels, thus providing his city a reason to be on a map that doesn't involve chicken or freaking horses.

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Blogger Dan B. said...
For those who don't get the Nightmare Ant reference, the following links are must-sees:
Nightmare Ant on Deadspin

His bio page

Nightmare Ant dancing (h/t Chris for this link)

Anonymous Stockton said...
Can't wait for draft night, in which the NYK will get #1. The crowd will explode and then a tiny voice will say "#1 pick goes to Utah".

Jazz fan

Blogger XForce23 said...
You can turn off Stephen A. Smith's thing in the options under Presentation. Turn off "NBA Insider"

Anonymous Anonymous said...
what happened to popeye jones?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Kevin, you are a godsend. I will have to do that tonight.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Yi is on my fantasy team... along with Vince Carter's sprained ankle...

Blogger chris said...
AnacondaHL: So I assume you just removed the Not-Answer from your fantasy squad...since he is slated to play TONIGHT!

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
chris: I specifically went into this year's draft saying "don't take anyone on Memphis". Somehow, my first two picks ended up as the manlove duo Dirk and Nash, and I somehow talked myself into Elton Brand. Despite almost going 9-0 last week, it's going to be a dicey season...

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Really great job on this, Dan :) Am I alone in thinking that Jameer Nelson's O-face makes him look a bit like Robert Horry?

Blogger Dan B. said...
Thanks Yams. I vaguely see a connection between Nelson and Horry in that picture, but not much. The face Vinsanity is making just below that, however, makes him look more than a bit like a special needs student. (No offense to anyone here who has such a child, obviously, but come on, it's too obvious to pass up)

Blogger Wild Yams said...
I think Vince looks like he's in the process of getting socked in the face on his right cheek by some invisible force.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Playing this game really gave me a perspective on how big players can be. I was playing on my player mode with a me-sized player (5'10", 165), and I got rotated over to what seemed like a giant behemoth posting me up (or getting ready to have me for dinner, I couldn't tell which). I thought "holy crap, who is this giant?!" It turned out to be Blake Griffin.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
JJ Redick is now a rapper?? This is bawfully bawful stuff

Anonymous Anonymous said...
is a fan hiding a dead cheerleader under his seat in mascots picture between Clutch the Bear and the other cheerleader?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Anonymous - Clearly that fan is getting a little something extra for his courtside seat. The NBA - It's FAAAAAAAAAANTASTIC.

Blogger Will said...
anonymous- I saw that too, but I thought it looks more like he has a mega-huge boner.

Blogger Unknown said...
Hey Bawful, terrific as always but I have a quick unrelated question: do you have any idea why I can only view the last 200 images on your flickr page? If I go back in the Basketbawful archives it's clear that the pictures still exist, but not accessible through your flickr site. Weeird.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...

Blogger Wild Yams said...
AnacondaHL - That clip (no pun intended) is absolutely hilarious! Clearly The Onion knows that the Clips are who we thought they were :)

Blogger chris said...
Jeff: I can answer that as a Flickr user - I think free accounts limit it to 200 viewable images.

Blogger chris said...
Wow. COMMON SENSE has prevailed in Bahstuhn:

Anonymous darkjedi said...
i'm able to consistently get A+ in my player mode.
i've got an SG, averaging 14pts, 6 ast, 6 reb.
i move a lot without the ball and get a lot of "good positiong", "good shot selection", and also a lot of offensive rebounds.

Blogger Dan B. said...
Glad to see people finally caught the odd cheerleader positioning in that Clutch the Bear picture. The NBA -- Where Hiding Dead Cheerleaders Happens.

In My Player mode, I'm a point guard (yet the game subs me in at shooting guard for nearly 75% or 80% of the game usually...), but I'm also only 6'0, 150lb, just like my real self. Therefore, rebounds in general are hard to come by since I get shoved around a lot and am a little too short. I'll get maybe two a game if I'm lucky.

I lose a lot of points over stupid things, like not realizing my teammate isn't paying a damn bit of attention, so even though he's open when I throw the ball to him, he lets someone run 8 feet across in front of him and steal the ball. I also lose points by having a "bad call for a pass" by accident if my finger slips and I hit that button on offense, or if I'm trying to jump on defense, but we get a steal or rebound at the same exact time, so the game considers me to be calling for a pass instead of jumping! Also, the game likes to penalize me for turnovers when I never even touch the ball on an offensive possession and don't even come close to touching it -- I'm kind of confused by that, but it happens at least once a game.

Most of the points I lose are on defense. I'm just a terrible defender most of the time. I don't really understand the methods the game wants you to use to shut down somebody except when they're on the perimeter. So I'll usually give up 8-10 points in a game while guarding a SG who's bigger and faster than me, and my teammates downgrade me a LOT for that.

I'm still managing usually to get anywhere from a B- to a C- each game, even with all my of sloppy play at times and the goofy quirks the game has. My entire point was just that the grading system is way too harsh -- two or three legitimate button-mashing mistakes (not just general ball-hoggery or lazy defense) will drop you a full letter grade, and it's damn hard to make that ground back up.

For what it's worth, I finally finished the summer league and am now playing in the NBA D-League for the Maine Red Claws. I've come off the bench in my first two games, but play significant minutes, mostly at shooting guard. My player's overall skill rating is still only a horrible 40 I believe. I can't really earn much in the drills since the control system is broken. I found that hitting Escape to go to the menu, then go back into the game restores controller function, but during rapid-fire defensive drills, doing this every 5-10 seconds makes it hard to get in a rhythm, so I inevitably make a bunch of mistakes.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Dan B - How bizarre, I don't know why you have problems with your controls. What do you use?

By the way, you should try putting a few points into Defensive and Offensive awareness. It's probably in the 30s for you, and it's cheap to upgrade. It shoots up your overall like crazy. By contrast, upgrading your actual skills like shooting and passing hardly pushes up your overall at all. The Def. awareness impacts playing the game more than the Off. awareness, I think, but they both are great for upgrading overall. I think the way the game decides whether you get cut in summer camp (and therefore, probably whether you get called up or not) is a combination of overall and in small part performance. Also, I think it also depends on the players at that position on your team, where players of a certain caliber are uncuttable. My friend tried out for the Magic as a SG, but they have Vinsanity and Pietrus marked down at the position already, so they refused to move him up even though he hacked himself to 99 overall and was averaging something crazy like 35 points with an A teammate grade. Ultimately he landed with Fort Wayne or something.

By contrast, I tried out for the Lakers as a PG, who have D-Fish, Farmar, and...someone named Barnes or something. I was on the possible cut list. After the first game, which I played well in, I not only survived the cut, I moved Barnes down to the possible cut list. (Adam Morrison did not survive the first day...figures...) After a good second and third game, and an overall around 62 or so (I put a lot of skill points into the awarenesses), I was already higher on the depth chart than Farmar. A poorer (but still good, like 17 points, 14 assists) 4th game landed me back below Farmar, even though I was still vastly outperforming him. After the fifth game, I was like right there on the edge of moving above him, and I ended up making the team, and was assigned 12 minutes in the rotations screen (if the game was played 48 minutes). He was assigned 14, and I think Fisher had like 26, so I might end up playing some SG.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
As for your defense, all I can suggest is 1) improve your defensive awareness so the game helps you out a little more, 2) try some denial defense, 3) defend a little bit off your man, but close enough to the passing lane that you can cut off the ball. Before I did that last one I was like a Bruce Bowen mold type of defender who locks his man down but doesn't get any stats for it. Now I also get about 2.5 steals a game. The computer will definitely take some risks, especially in a fast break situation or when the clock is running out.

I definitely agree with the grading system being too harsh. I once drove into the lane, drew two defenders, and saw that the big man was open. In a hurry, I hit pass repeatedly to try and get him the ball before it was too late. I ended up getting credited for an assist, a good pass, and 3 bad calls for pass. Also, just curious, I thought the key bindings were the same for jump and like, crossover? Were you able to assign different keys for offense and defense? I can only assign key sets (same key for pass on offense and change player on defense, so forth).

Blogger Dan B. said...
Yeah, I've upgraded my defensive awareness slightly, but not much. I need to hit that one up more. I just invested a bunch in improving my consistency -- my player was very, very prone to getting into cold streaks where I couldn't hit a bucket to save my life. Apparently the consistency thing is supposed to help me not get into cold streaks as badly, which just makes the game more fun to play. And when the game lets me actually play my more natural PG position instead of slotting me in at SG all the goddamn time, I tend to not do too bad on defense even with the lack of the defensive awareness skill level.

I've got a wireless gamepad that I bought for like $12 from -- it works great in every game I have, except for that one bug where it won't work right in the drills section in this game. For example, I noticed that if I hit Space to start the drill, the controller works fine, but if I hit a button on the controller, then it forces me to use keyboard controls.

And you may be right about the button assignments, but I'm at work right now and not able to look at the controller I use or anything, so I'm not certain. But either way, I have trouble sometimes with it yelling at me for calling for a pass when that wasn't my intent. I once had the controller slip in my hands, and I got marked down for five or six consecutive bad pass calls. That's my bad, but still.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Oh I wasn't trying to call you out about the button assignments. I was actually hoping that you're right and that there's some way to map the offense and defense separately. That really bugs the hell out of me.

You know, I have the same problem with the controller switching for practices. Not only in 2K10, but with Madden 08 for PC too. It always switches to the alternate controller. Fortunately, I have one of those 2 controllers in 1 dealies, so it doesn't bother me.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hey could someone help me? Like, I had 2k5 until tonight and I bought 2k10, mostly so the characters wouldn't look gay (mainly steve nash) but when I try to play it, the characters look exactly the same as 2k5 unless they're new players. WTF?

Please someone tell me how to fix this.