Kobe versus Dwight sounds like a matchup made in Heaven, and a Heavenly match is exactly what we've got after years of one-sidedness when EA Sports' NBA Live 10 and cover boy Kobe Bryant try to dethrone 2K Sports' NBA 2K10, featuring Dwight Howard. They met in the NBA Finals last year, and they're set to meet again in this forum (no, not the Great Western Forum -- it's the Staples Center now, after all) when we pit the two basketball titles against each other. For test purposes, both games were played on Xbox 360, but this title match can be carried over to the PS3 as well. If you're looking to play on other platforms, you have limited choices, with 2K10 on both PC ($20 USD) and PS2 ($30 USD), and Live 10 for PSP ($40 USD). Unfortunately, Nintendo DS owners are out of luck this year.
After getting hands-on time with both titles, it was actually unclear as to which faired better in overall experience from the start. Both titles have a lot to offer, including better presentations that go far beyond passive graphical or auditory improvements. NBA Live 10 offers up a game mode called Dynamic Season in which gamers can play along with the real NBA season by playing nightly games off the real schedules. From there, real-world stats are merged into your console's season so that you can directly compete with your favorite basketball stars. NBA 2K10 offers a similar mode of play, dubbed NBA Today, but it also goes a step beyond in having the commentators calling out real statistics from previously played games across the real-world league. In some ways, this is simply a cosmetic makeover that doesn't necessarily affect gameplay, but it still feels very polished and gives a sense of realism that has been lacking in the world of sports games since their inception. In fact, this realism is a game changer and I'm positive we'll see more in the future across all sports games, not just in basketball titles. In addition, 2K Sports promises to keep up-to-date roster changes more frequently through their Living Rosters feature than they have in the past (EA has generally been pretty good about this), as I learned during a conference call with the developers before its release. NBA Live 10's answer is an improved Dynamic DNA feature, that not only updates attributes throughout the season for standout and struggling players, but also shows player trends that can be used as scouting reports.