NBA 2K10 Online Impressions

Posted October 12th, 2009 at 10:10 am


As the popularity of the NBA 2K franchise has risen the online performance has taken a sharp decline in its wake. Last year the Team Up mode was introduced however it was never able to consistently handle the load of multiple users being connected into one online game. With NBA 2K10 it has now been five days and online is still completely unreliable and some modes aren’t even functional.

If there is one thing I’ve always pushed for on the site it is companies living up to their promises and delivering on advertised features. That has been the case in the past with articles on MLB The Show’s terrible online performance, Tiger Woods “Photo Face” not working at launch, and Madden touting “Maddenoliday” only to have unplayable online on that very day.

Not delivering with the online play certainly qualifies as such. I’ve had difficulty building these online impressions because of the inability to get games in. However after providing ample time to fix what could have been early hiccups and knowing last year’s was never completely addressed online is what it is and that is important to discuss.

Over the last 6 days I have been able to complete two ranked games and one Team-Up game. Other attempts have resulted in “refer to the FAQ” or “network conditions too poor” or “network problem prevents continuing”. The servers have been completely down in many instances and there is a decent chance they would be even be as you read this.

2K did change up the way you can get into online games, either through the menu system or right from the game match-up screen. It’s probably more convenient but also has led to some confusion since there is no one central area for all online activities.

There have been some reports of immense lag when actually being able to play in the online games. In my handful of experiences the lag has been slight. Noticeable but not debilitating to gameplay. The Team-Up game was with six online users lag was at least manageable unlike most that I tried with 2K9. With such a limited sample it’s difficult to fully judge performance especially given the inconsistency of the servers.

Specifically on the PS3 the server seems to be freezing the consoles for some when searching for games or when being dropped out of them. Not sure how widespread this is but multiple reports out there of it happening.

The framerate problems seen prominently offline are also felt online. Not only do you have to account for the lag, but any time the action gets cluttered such as in the paint going for a rebound there is noticeable slowdown.

From what I’ve been able to gather, when the servers are actually up and running the Team-Up games seem to be maxed out at six or seven users. Eight or above attempting to play will cause the game to disconnect right at the start. This is a feature that is most enjoyable when every player is user-controlled but that was not possible last year nor does it appear it will be this year.

Team-Up feels a lot like My Player mode because it uses the same grading system, which as everyone knows has its good points and bad. At one point I was randomly hit with like five excessive calling for the ball when I had never even pressed the button once. It also basically prevents your team from playing zone because no one wants to leave their guy for any reason when they could score and that results in the detraction for allowing it.

It seems that in Team-Up/Pick-Up games only the point guard has the ability to make substitutions. This can be a big problem. With turbo affecting stamina so harshly if you don’t have someone at PG on the mic or willing to make smart subs then you’re stuck.

The stamina does appear to run down a little too quickly. I have consciously been very conservative with the turbo yet find my player drained. Subs would have to be done multiple times in a game which may not happen due to only the PG being able to and even if they were it interrupts the flow of the game when people just want to play. It should probably be toned down a little in an upcoming patch.

There is a known glitch, previously reported over on OS, that affects the Team-Up games. I don’t know if this has been seen since as I’ve yet to come across anyone has been able to play a full Team-Up game.

Most disappointing all this is I actually find the gameplay of NBA 2K10 to be ideally suited to the Team-Up experience. The slower pace and turbo limitations lend itself well to that.

So while those modes online have not been working it does seem that regular ranked games are becoming more available for people to compete in. Certainly it isn’t as consistent as it needs to be though.

In NBA 2K10 there have been a few additions to the online feature set. That includes creating “Crews” for Team-Up games and track the records and stats. There is also the ability to take your My Player online and play Pick-Up games using them or NBA players. Sadly no one has yet been able to do these things because of the server issues.

The leagues appear to be similarly structured with the fantastic website which is a shining example of how they should be done. Last year there were some problems with leagues but right now with the server issues they have not been functional so it’s unknown how 2K10’s have shaped up. They aren’t online dynasties which is the natural evolution that really needs to be made soon as leagues are feeling like a thing of the past.

When your opponent pauses you’ll see their menu screen before being blocked from seeing what changes they make. They still haven’t made it possible for both sides to make changes at the same time which is frustrating. Changes must be made for each game, so if you prefer a certain camera angle you can’t set that to be your default and have that carry over.

The NBA Today feature also seems to be affected by the online problems and has not been working at times. Even uploading screenshots and highlight videos have been a crapshoot as they may never actually appear. You’ll see some other oddities from offline that happen online, such as the refs never getting the ball set for play. May have to burn a timeout to get past that or wait it out and maybe they’ll stop passing back and forth with the inbounder or whatever the situation is.

As to the two ranked games I completed, the wins still have not registered and at this point I’m thinking they never will. It seems that many wins are not being recorded for people which again seems to be tied to the servers.

There are no replays or highlights available after the game which is a disappointment. I always enjoy watching them after games and there will always be cool events that you want to see again or save from the online games but won’t be able to.

One has to wonder if the rate that 2K10 contacts the servers is creating some of the problems. When you start up 2K10 it attempts to find updates to the Living Rosters, player progression and NBA Today. After every My Player mode game or drill it contacts the server to update your information. That must be taxing in some regard and adds an annoyance in constant failure messages when the server goes down.

Consumers are showing dissatisfaction over the matter in the 2K forum, on Twitter, and elsewhere. Whether it results in a loss of sales this year or (more likely) next year we won’t know for some time. Unfortunately it just appears that 2K Sports does not have the resources to provide the proper online experience for such a popular game.