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NBA 2K: A Noob's Perspective

As a UK-based contributor, I'm lucky enough to possess a unique perspective on the world of sports gaming from across the pond. Unfortunately, I'm also left out of my depth in regards to certain sports, and basketball is one such example. It's not that I don't understand the basics. I've played my fair share of basketball games over the past 20 years, but I've never ingrained myself in the culture of the sport to the point where I understand the tactical techniques or terminology involved.

Back in February, I published a "noob's perspective" on Madden NFL 16, and following the recent weekend-long trial of NBA 2K17 on Xbox One, I set myself the task of tackling a new variation of this challenge. In the process, I gathered further impressions from a copy of last year's game to add extra longevity to my playing time.

Keep in mind that these are a small selection of initial thoughts from someone who doesn't understand the sport or the mechanics of 2K's NBA games all that well, but it might be illuminating to you as to how a more casual fan sees the games we play. Go easy on me, folks!

Outstanding Presentation

NBA 2K captures my attention from the instant I hit the court, and I'm particularly in awe of the sheer amount of diverse animations that add a unique quality to each play. Games flow naturally as a result, making it easy to create those replay-worthy, jump-out-your-seat moments. The only noticeable downside to the visuals are the awkward facial animations that look unnatural up close.

I can already see how the pregame, postgame and halftime show sequences could grow old quickly, but as a casual fan, they offer the immersive aspects I crave. It's easy to be amazed by the outstanding announcer work and player interviews, but I'm not so keen on the coach timeout talks that suffer from jarring transitions and a generic feel across both iterations. Minor issues aside, the NBA 2K series benefits from an impressive level of presentation across the board.

Offense & Defense

I'm not the biggest connoisseur of the NBA, but I know how to shoot hoops in the virtual world when I need to. If there's one constant that I and other casuals can share from our experiences, it's that playing offense is usually easier than defense. In the past, I've often found it possible to hit 2-point shots without much resistance, allowing me to forego intelligent basketball in favor of taking direct routes to the net. The same couldn't be said for defense, where it felt like I was being punished for failing to manipulate the mechanics to my advantage.

In both 2K16 and particularly 2K17, I've noticed a switch. Even for an inexperienced player like me, my intelligent positioning on defense feels like it's being rewarded. On offense, the fluidity of each attacking move allows me to carry out clever plays to get to the basket, and the defensive AI forces me to do so. It's also pleasing to see that the confusing free-throw mechanics of years past have been simplified considerably.

I Love MyPark...But

You don't have to be a regular NBA 2K player to have heard of MyPark. I've watched enough videos and read enough content to know that it deserves my attention, but only recently have I begun to understand the appeal. It's quickly becoming one of my favorite modes, and I've spent plenty of hours dropping into other people's games, irritating them along the way with my noob-ish ways.

That said, I haven't been able to invest enough time into significantly upgrading my created star, and I don't care for the grind of doing so. When I'm occasionally hauled into a game with overly powerful opponents, my interest soon wavers, and while I could invest more time into upgrading my player, I'd rather be offered a balanced system to compete with all players from the outset. It's purely a personal preference, and I know there are many fans that prefer the stat-building aspects of online play as opposed to the class-based format of NHL 17's EASHL, for example. I'm not one of them.

Casual Appeal

It's a tough ask to put out games of outstanding quality on a year-by-year basis, but many would argue that 2K has achieved that feat over the course of the series' lifespan. It's an even tougher ask to capture the casual crowd and get them to opt for a full-price purchase, and although they haven't quite managed to do that in my case, they've come close.

I'm already missing the ability to take advantage of additional announce teams, gameplay enhancements and a MyCareer story that isn't penned by Spike Lee (sorry Spike!). Although I wouldn't envisage paying top dollar (or pound) for 2K17 at present, that could change if I find myself getting more invested in the sport and the series as time progresses.

Ultimately, the in-depth aspects of 2K's NBA series are lost on me. I can't determine whether it accurately represents the sport of basketball in terms of tactical replication or team management, and that's not my concern as a noob. I'm just after an accessible pick-up-and-play experience, and despite occasional complexities, recent iterations of the series are able to satisfy my needs better than ever before. Whether 2K can hold my interest for the long haul remains to be seen, but I'll retain an appreciation for their brand of virtual basketball either way.


Member Comments
# 1 mcdowell31 @ 12/02/16 11:39 AM
Nice! I've played 2K since 2K6, and I've witnessed their growth and the subsequent (inevitable?) attraction of the casual (or noob). I definitely enjoy your impressions.

"Outstanding Presentation"
My recent rants :

http://www.operationsports.com/mcdowell31/blog/33674-how-immersion-hurts-the-pacing-experience-in-myleague/

http://www.operationsports.com/mcdowell31/blog/34486-this-console-generation-and-face-zooms/

http://www.operationsports.com/mcdowell31/blog/34545-myleague-no-cut-scenes-doesnt-mean-a-fing-thing/

"I Love MyPark...But"
I can totally relate to you on this. I've played basketball of some sort since age 11 (I'm 51). I have more of an "every-man" basketball player interpretation as opposed to a basketball players as superheroes interpretation. I've barely touched MyPark; I prefer the "history" of MyLeague. Here's something I referenced that might improve MyPark:

http://www.operationsports.com/mcdowell31/blog/34553-nba-2k17-myplayer-taking-the-grind-out-of-grinding/

"a MyCareer story that isn't penned by Spike Lee"
agree definitely. Once more my blog references:

http://www.operationsports.com/mcdowell31/blog/34554-nba-2k17-immersion-storytelling-and-why-less-would-be-more/

I really appreciate your article.
 
# 2 Nemesis Enforcer @ 12/02/16 11:57 AM
My noob experience...

Player models and shoes finally aren't oversized.
Best control offensively yet but still not to my liking.
Too much presentation. Care less about a talking halftime show and taking me out of the action requiring 10 button presses to get back.
Can really play good Defense.
All the modes and customization you could want.
Pro am not as good as other but has good elements
2vscpu couch play. Completely unable to run around with all the blocking animations and holding as on off ball player.
Just overall not a fun experience for whatever reason.
 
# 3 deadlocked @ 12/02/16 09:55 PM
Yeah Madden has hit the perfect balance between real life and sim presentation wise. Just wish they used actual graphics and not EA Sports branded ones.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 
# 4 tril @ 12/03/16 06:23 PM
nice write up.
with that this is the least amount of fun Ive ever had with a 2k title.
 
# 5 AllureStoneDesign @ 12/03/16 06:52 PM
I love the game without a doubt. It has its flaws but I can live with them. The thing that irritates me the most is the long monologue commentary. It gets old the 3rd time you hear about Dorris Burke being classmates with Billy Donovan.. the ball can change hands 2-3 times before they comment on the game again. I think they should deepen the play by play and compliment it with more stat updates and team comparisons.
 
# 6 mcdowell31 @ 12/04/16 06:43 PM
NBA 2K presentation: Story-telling and killing momentum

I've just re-fired-up a game between Orlando (me) and Miami: Great intra-state rivalry interrupted by life (happens sometimes) :-D

I'm back; I'm rabid with hunger for some intense game-play and animations. I'm thirsting for the fastbreak; the jockey for low-block position.

Let's do this!

I'm only up by six in the first quarter; my new defensive plan is looking good early. Whitesides puts down a physical basket on Vucevic and a foul is called; insult to injury.

Whitesides (predictably) misses, and we're off to the races. Vucevic rebounds/outlets to the SG: I almost always do this on a free-throw because the SF is boxing-out the shooter.

The SF breaks away from Whiteside and gets lost in the shuffle of transition: I am hopeful for a good finish.

Sure enough, he outruns his opponent along the left and catches the ball at the FT-line extended where he is picked-up by a slow-footed PF. Sizing-up the situation on the run, he takes the baseline and flushes a semi-nice tomahawk.

Too easy.

We harass and get another bad shot: Run and score. The AI begs mercy as time-out is called. Satisfaction for those (me) who like to compete.

THEN IMMERSION BREAKS as presentation goes off into some tiresome tirade about something I've heard before.

MOMENTUM IS BROKEN. Possibly for my team (smart move by the AI). Great! Beautiful! This concept is part of every basketball story.

STORY-TELLING MOMENTUM IS BROKEN AS WELL. Not so cool.

See the difference?

I should be past the TO and continuing the battle. Instead I'm here typing because this idea is fresh in my mind: It is OK to kill players momentum within the game (on-screen). That is fun and funny. It is not so fun for the end-user (behind the controller) to have story-telling momentum killed.

There has to be a way to disengage timeouts: College Hoops 2K8 comes to my mind immediately. That would help story-telling. On-screen players might still be susceptible to TO penalties and positives (like rest), but a real-time is not necessary for digital players.

And, of course, while I'm on TO's: Throw the TO timeclock out. Timeouts are not a mini-game; they are a pause screen.

Save the TO timeclock for truly virtual basketball, already by 2K, that I've seen on YouTube. It will be even better when the AI assistant coach is truly sentient and will speak to me before, during, and after the timeout.

Coaches (joystick jockeys) are interested in what players (NBA 2K staff) are doing. We want to keep this going.

Thanks!
 
# 7 Fraser G. @ 12/06/16 12:21 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcdowell31
Nice! I've played 2K since 2K6, and I've witnessed their growth and the subsequent (inevitable?) attraction of the casual (or noob). I definitely enjoy your impressions.

"Outstanding Presentation"
My recent rants :

http://www.operationsports.com/mcdowell31/blog/33674-how-immersion-hurts-the-pacing-experience-in-myleague/

http://www.operationsports.com/mcdowell31/blog/34486-this-console-generation-and-face-zooms/

http://www.operationsports.com/mcdowell31/blog/34545-myleague-no-cut-scenes-doesnt-mean-a-fing-thing/

"I Love MyPark...But"
I can totally relate to you on this. I've played basketball of some sort since age 11 (I'm 51). I have more of an "every-man" basketball player interpretation as opposed to a basketball players as superheroes interpretation. I've barely touched MyPark; I prefer the "history" of MyLeague. Here's something I referenced that might improve MyPark:

http://www.operationsports.com/mcdowell31/blog/34553-nba-2k17-myplayer-taking-the-grind-out-of-grinding/

"a MyCareer story that isn't penned by Spike Lee"
agree definitely. Once more my blog references:

http://www.operationsports.com/mcdowell31/blog/34554-nba-2k17-immersion-storytelling-and-why-less-would-be-more/

I really appreciate your article.
Thanks for your kind words. After reading your qualms about immersion and face zooms, I can appreciate how frustrating many of the presentation features could become in the long run. It'll be interesting from a personal standpoint to see if I share the same thoughts in the months to come.

Thank you for sharing your blog posts, I enjoyed reading them.
 
# 8 piffbernd @ 12/06/16 07:22 PM
I am in the same boat as u with Nba2k and Madden. I don't understand play vision. I can't defend at all. Would be nice with there would be a play vision tutorial in Nba2k. When u know what to do, it must be the best sports game what's out there. With Madden same thing. I don't know what to pick for play on defence. Most of the time I play defence end. This is the reason play mostly Mlb the show. I think mlb the show is easier for noob too.
 
# 9 BustinLoose @ 12/21/16 10:56 AM
Too many missed assignments on defense. Players don't stay attached to their man. CPU back-doors you to death Bigs are always camped out near or at, the 3pt line, why is this?, CPU players run to the corners for wide-open 3's, when you rotate your help defense, the man you left to help out, always is there for a offensive rebound or put-back, there is no defense, coming off screens to contest 3 pt shots. CPU always makes them.
Other than those things, NBA2K 17 is great.....
 
# 10 JasonLin @ 01/02/17 10:57 PM
personally i just hate the right stick shooting. I still prefer NBA 2K14 in which you can do all kinds of creative and crazy shooting animation with the right stick.
 

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