Last year, you “Lived the Dream.” This year you experienced your “Prelude” to greatness. Both of these modes in Visual Concepts’ NBA 2K franchise were supposed to acclimate and immerse you into the game’s premier mode, MyCareer. Both years had you assume a player whose visage and role you could create, but whose persona was already determined via the story mode crafted by Visual Concepts. I’m not here to talk about the merits of last year’s “movie of the week” presentation (personally, I liked it) or this year’s evolved version that grants you much more control over your player during your rookie NBA season.
I’m here to talk about something else. Just like last year, your guy. You. The President of basketball, aka Pres, flat out SUCKS!
I was really excited to load up the Prelude this year. It took the most exciting things about last year’s attempt and removed a lot of the perceived contrived portions about Freq, his “twin” sister and his troubled entourage. You start at the end of your high school basketball career showing your mentor and high school coach, Washington Falls, your highlight reel. You are a high school All-American, the number one recruit in the country. You pick your college, but everyone knows you’re too good to stay there more than your mandatory freshman year. Then you get to upgrade Pres’ attributes for the first time to discover you’re rated…55!? Which country was I the top recruit in, Angola?
All of the commentary casts Pres as the second coming. A leader destined for greatness the same way as Carmelo Anthony, who also brought his college program to the championship his freshman year. However, you, as the “President of Basketball,” have difficulty finishing a layup or sinking a free throw. Opposing players run circles around you. By the time you’re drafted five games later, you’re lucky if you’ve earned enough Virtual Currency (VC) to have raised him a couple attribute points. You wind up drafted as a one-and-done transcendent player who is (conservatively) 20 points below his contemporaries (you also might end up going very low in the draft, which is also awkward for your status).
There is a way, of course, to make Pres better right away. It involves spending extra money on VC to “juice” your way to mediocrity. To date I’ve spent 40 dollars on VC. I bought the Legends edition of the game that included 30,000 in VC (approximately $10 USD value) which cost $79.99. Then I bought 75,000 VC in-game for 20 bucks. With 105,000 VC, Pres catapulted from 55 to 82.
I assume the point of making MyCareer is to immerse the player in the world of an up and coming professional basketball player. After all, the cutscenes are full of recognizable faces interacting with your virtual avatar and performing all sorts of activities with you. The problem begins when you attempt to approximate NBA basketball at the burgeoning superstar level, only to fall way short.
I spent almost 100 dollars to get my player to a level where it makes sense that he’s receiving endorsement deals every other day. Many people can’t afford to spend that much on one game. And either way, no player should ever have to spend that kind of money on something like this. As I see it, the only reason to make your player start so low is to push you to spend real dollars to buy VC. Wouldn’t it make sense from a immersion — and moral — standpoint to start your player with a rating in at least the 70s? If he’s the number one basketball recruit in the number one basketball country in the world, wouldn’t it make sense that he’s at least as good as the other guys getting drafted in his NBA draft class?
I mean I had barely made it to December of my rookie year, and I had already received endorsement deals from Gatorade, Foot Locker, 2K, Mountain Dew and Tissot. Plus, I had a shoe deal. I had only started one game and was averaging just over 10 points a game. These aren’t numbers that garner major endorsement deals. Beyond that, if I only bought the game and used no extra VC except for what I earned through gameplay, I’m under the impression I would have still been offered most of those deals, if not all of them. Bye immersion.
It’s really a shame that the desire to capitalize monetarily on a flawed system was more important than fixing said system to increase its realism. If I wasn’t spending all that VC on attributes, I probably would have still spent it on something else with the game, like accessories for Pres or stuff for MyCourt. The difference would be that I’d be happy about spending it there.