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The Friday Five: 5 Things I’ve Learned Playing Jordan Rec Center

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five things that I’ve learned playing in the Jordan Rec Center in NBA 2K19.

Having wrapped up my second season in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER, I haven’t felt the desire to play a third year. Since the Bulls went out and signed Ben Simmons, I have thought about playing a few games here and there while simulating the rest, but I’ve not done so as yet. I have been playing online however, just to see what the scene is like this late in the year. After several sessions in The Playground and Jordan Rec Center, I’d have to conclude that not much has changed since the game was launched. The gameplay, the user base, the overall vibe and atmosphere…it’s all the same.

The lack of change has come as a disappointment as far as the Jordan Rec Center is concerned. With team Pro-Am hamstrung by the enforcement of five users per side, the Jordan Rec Center became the online mode of choice for the NLSC squad. It soon became apparent that it wasn’t going to deliver the same fun experience that team Pro-Am did for us in NBA 2K16 and NBA 2K17, and to a far lesser extent, NBA 2K18. At this point, I’m the only member of the squad who’s jumping online on a regular basis, so I’ve been playing with randoms. Here’s my take on the Jordan Rec Center after playing it extensively this year, with friends and randoms alike.

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Wayback Wednesday: Running With the Bulls in the Early 2000s

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at the difficulty of running with the Chicago Bulls in video games of the early 2000s.

Dusting off old favourites and other interesting hoops titles from yesteryear makes me feel old myself, but that doesn’t compare to the knowledge that my favourite team, the Chicago Bulls, are twenty-one years removed from their most recent championship. It was an incredible time to be a Bulls fan in the 90s, though it has made the subsequent ups and downs quite frustrating to endure at times. It’s been difficult watching them miss out on top free agents, lose their own promising players through free agency or questionable trades, and endure misfortune such as Derrick Rose’s multiple injuries.

Of course, the virtual hardwood is a place where frustrated NBA fans can turn around the fortunes of their favourite team, and I’ve created some fun memories running with the virtual Bulls over the years. In the aftermath of The Last Dance, I’ve overachieved with the Baby Bulls in my memorable NBA Live 2004 and NBA Live 06 Dynasties. More recently, I’ve taken them to back-to-back championships in MyCAREER. In the early 2000s however, it was rough playing with them in video games, as I’m sure my fellow long-time gamers and Bulls fans can attest. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Should NBA Live Be More Like NBA 2K?

James Harden shoots in NBA Live 19

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with an interesting and important question that continues to be hotly debated: should NBA Live be more like NBA 2K?

As NBA Live continues to rebuild and re-establish itself in the face of NBA 2K’s dominance, there is a debate among basketball gamers as to the best direction for the game. There are gamers who would prefer that NBA Live remains distinctly different to NBA 2K in focus, style, and approach, and generally reject any suggestions that Live should borrow ideas from 2K. Conversely, as noted here on Reddit, there are others who would prefer that NBA Live essentially copy NBA 2K, but for a few details here and there (such as avoiding 2K’s approach to microtransactions).

Naturally, between those two extremes are more nuanced suggestions about NBA Live doing its own thing, while also borrowing some of NBA 2K’s best ideas (and in some cases, putting its own spin on them). To that end, of course, there’s still debate as to which ideas should be borrowed, how closely NBA Live should mimic what NBA 2K is doing, and to what extent any 2K concepts should be reworked. It leaves us with the question of whether or not NBA Live should be more like NBA 2K, or as the thread over on Reddit put it, “NBA 2K re-skinned” rather than NBA Live. For me, the answer is yes…and no.

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The Friday Five: 5 Gameplay Improvements NBA Live 20 Needs

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five improvements that NBA Live 20 needs to demonstrate in terms of its gameplay.

If NBA Live 20 is to be the big release many of us are hoping it will be, it will need to improve upon an area that’s been a perennial weakness since the series returned back in 2013: its modes. The different modes of play are what give basketball games their longevity, and this year’s release from EA Sports must add long overdue features and depth to Franchise, Ultimate Team, and online modes. Deeper customisation is also a must. Of course, while these are all vital areas of NBA Live that require attention, it’s crucial that above all, the gameplay experience continues to improve.

NBA Live’s gameplay has gone through some interesting ups and downs during this generation. NBA Live 14 felt very stiff on the sticks, with animations that looked very “last gen”. Since then, improvements have been made to the fluidity, the depth of the controls, and certain animations. Most NBA Live gamers would agree that there is still plenty of room for improvement, and I’m unquestionably in that camp. What are the most important changes and improvements that need to be made to gameplay in NBA Live 20? We compiled some great ideas in the Wishlist that we sent in to EA, but this week, I’d like to discuss five key areas where Live’s gameplay must improve.

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Wayback Wednesday: Old School Season Modes

Old School Season Modes (NBA Live 96)

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at old school Season modes.

Modern basketball games have their issues which are important to discuss, but one thing we can’t say is that they don’t offer a variety of experiences. Even though NBA Live’s modes are still in need of fleshing out, by including Franchise, Ultimate Team, and The One with its connected experiences, we’re presented with a few choices. One of NBA 2K’s strengths for many years has been its deep modes, with MyLEAGUE, MyGM, MyTEAM, and MyCAREER’s online and offline modes keeping us hooked year after year. We’re provided several different ways of playing virtual basketball.

As much as the controls, graphics, physics, and any other aspect of modern titles, it’s the modes that make old basketball video games look primitive. The most in-depth experience on offer was generally the single Season mode, with minimal GM options and no independent action by the CPU teams. Nevertheless, we made the most of those old school Season modes, until they evolved into the multi-faceted, multi-season experiences that they would eventually become. They’re an important step in the evolution of basketball gaming, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: A MyCAREER Season to Remember

Championship in Second MyCAREER Season (NBA 2K19)

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a look back at a memorable MyCAREER season, and a few thoughts on moving on from the mode.

Last week, I completed my second MyCAREER season in NBA 2K19. It’s the first time that I’ve played through two whole seasons in MyCAREER, as I usually find myself losing interest or running out of time before the next game is released. This year however, I felt motivated to play a second campaign. Even though I’d vowed to move on from career modes this year, I did get stuck into MyCAREER when our NLSC 2K Pro-Am squad decided to give online play another try in NBA 2K19. Even when we called it quits, I found that I was hooked on the NBA side of things.

After making it to 90 Overall and winning the championship in my rookie campaign, I decided that I wanted to make my sophomore season one to remember. Although I’d normally consider myself a sim gamer, the current approach to MyCAREER doesn’t favour a realistic style of play. As such, I resolved to put up ridiculous numbers, aim for as many records as possible, and in short, utterly destroy the league. With Year 2 now in the books, I can confidently say that it’s a case of mission accomplished! My numbers were crazy from start to finish, and having completed another MyCAREER season, I’m feeling like I can move on from the mode, in NBA 2K19 and beyond.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things MyCOURT Needs

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five things that would enhance MyCOURT in NBA 2K’s MyCAREER.

As I noted in a Wayback Wednesday feature, when MyCOURT was first announced as a new addition in NBA 2K15’s MyCAREER, I didn’t think much of it. My initial thought was that it sounded like a gimmicky premise, another case of adding flash over substance. In hindsight, I was underestimating its usefulness. MyCOURT has not only proven to be an appealing player hub and base of operations for MyCAREER, but is very handy for testing out animations, getting a feel for your player, and earning some extra VC. In NBA 2K17, it could even be used to grind for Cap Breakers.

However, while MyCOURT remains practical and stylish as of NBA 2K19, there are a few things that could stand to be improved upon. Although new functions have been added in the form of mini-games and unlockable items, there are some noteworthy omissions in terms of useful options and equipment. From additional on-court options to menu functions and interactive elements of the environment, these things would allow us to get the most out of MyCOURT. They may not be the most crucial parts of MyCAREER, but having spent considerable time in the mode in NBA 2K19, I feel that these suggestions would spruce up our own private virtual hardwood.

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Wayback Wednesday: Kobe Bryant’s Fictional NBA 2K10 Cover

Kobe Bryant New York Knicks NBA 2K10 Cover

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at Kobe Bryant’s fictional NBA 2K10 cover.

Since the preview season officially tipped off with the reveal of NBA 2K20’s cover players, I thought it would be appropriate to look back ten years to NBA 2K10. If you poke around for NBA 2K10 images on Google, you’ll no doubt come across a version of the cover featuring Kobe Bryant in a New York Knicks jersey; a uniform he never wore during his career. Of course, many basketball gamers have made mock-up and fictional alternate covers for various games over the years (to say nothing of bootleg copies), and they tend to show up in Google Image searches as well.

What’s interesting about this particular cover is that it’s an official fake, if that’s not too much of a contradiction in terms. More specifically, it’s an image that 2K made following the announcement that Kobe would be appearing on the cover. What’s the story behind this unusual cover that no doubt made Knicks fans wistful, and Lakers fans cringe? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Clickbait & You! – A Public Service Announcement

Stand Against Clickbait!

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a public service announcement regarding clickbait, ahead of yet another NBA Live and NBA 2K preview season here at the NLSC.

July is upon us, which means it (hopefully) won’t be too much longer before we start getting our first information about NBA Live 20 and NBA 2K20. Unfortunately, a lot of content creators are prone to taking advantage of basketball gamers eager for news, and engage in clickbait during the preview season. We do our best to be accurate here at the NLSC, and as a gaming community, we must do all we can to avoid spreading rumours and misinformation. It’s a perpetual problem, so I’ve put together what I hope will be a timeless PSA: Clickbait & You! Watch it below or here over on YouTube.

This was a fun (but arduous) video to put together, so I hope you enjoy it! While it’s obviously all in fun, we do want to avoid those tactics here at the NLSC, and remain dedicated to providing fair-handed coverage and reliable information about basketball video games. To that end, it’s a message that I’d like the community to take to heart. I’m looking forward to the preview season for NBA Live 20 and NBA 2K20, and I hope that you’ll stick around for all of the pre-release news and post-release content. If you haven’t already, I invite you to subscribe to the NLSC’s YouTube channel, as more fun and informative videos will be on the way in the not too distant future!

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The Friday Five: 5 Interesting Ways to Play Basketball Games

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five ways to make your basketball gaming experiences more interesting.

As we discussed in last week’s episode of the NLSC Podcast, the offseason is upon us, which means we’ve put in nine solid months of gaming with last season’s basketball titles. It’s around this time of the year that our habits on the virtual hardwood tend to change. Maybe we start spending time in a different mode, or try to finish up all of our business before this year’s games are released. If we’re enjoying what we’re doing, we may keep playing the current game throughout the preview season. Or, after so many months, we may feel it’s time to shelve the games and play something else.

If you are still keen on virtual hoops at this point of the year, you might feel inclined to try something different. For that matter, you may be considering new ways to play in the upcoming games, as it’s easy to get into a rut and fall back into old habits year after year. I know that I’ve often vowed to change things up by trying a different build or doing something out of the ordinary, only to opt for the familiar. There are some ideas that I’d like to try out at some point though, as well as a few that I have tried, if only briefly. If you’d like a different basketball gaming experience, consider these suggestions this offseason, or come NBA Live 20 and NBA 2K20.

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Wayback Wednesday: Training Camp in NBA 2K12

Welcome to Training Camp in NBA 2K12

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at Training Camp in NBA 2K12.

In recent years, it’s been noted that the NBA 2K series has been increasingly geared towards appealing to the hardcore online crowd. In a Reddit post that I’ve mentioned before (and no doubt will again), a former EVE Online developer has noted the series’ increasing focus on catering to elite players, and apparent hostility to newer gamers who are trying to hone their skills on the virtual hardwood. It’s fostered the “get gud” mindset, while failing to provide the onboarding, opportunities, and fair matchmaking that would allow less experienced players to strive for that.

As noted in that Reddit post, it wasn’t always that way. Earlier this decade, the NBA 2K games were going out of their way to teach gamers all of the basic and advanced controls, in an environment that was both helpful and creative. Those efforts began with the introduction of Training Camp in NBA 2K12, a feature that would carry over into NBA 2K13 and prior gen NBA 2K14. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: We’re Part of The Problem

The Playground in NBA 2K19

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on how we gamers are part of the problem when it comes to recent issues with NBA 2K19.

I try my best not to be repetitive in the topics I choose for my weekly features. Unless I’m producing a series centred on a certain theme or topic, I try to space out similar features and even alternate between games wherever possible. I also want to be as fair-handed as possible, and not resort to bashing for the sake of outrage clicks. With that being said however, although I’ve discussed issues with online modes and play in the last couple of Monday Tip-Off articles, recent events in NBA 2K19 have made it impossible not to touch on them once again this week.

Where to begin? An influx of new gamers from a recent sale has been blamed for persistent problems in MyTEAM’s Auction House, an issue that remains unresolved. The appearance of an unskippable ad has naturally raised the ire of many gamers, both for its inconvenience and inappropriateness in an E-rated game. This is all on top of the continued dissatisfaction with the game’s heavy focus upon microtransactions and gambling-like mechanics. Those issues all deserve scorn, but as I prepared to talk about them and criticise NBA 2K’s handling of the situation once again, a nagging thought came to mind: like it or not, we’re part of the problem.

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The Friday Five: 5 Modes I Haven’t Played Much

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five takes a look at five game modes that I haven’t played much of over the years.

There’s almost too much to do in basketball video games these days. The amount of modes in NBA 2K in particular caters to a wide variety of tastes; whether you prefer competitive online play, card collecting and team building, living the life of an NBA player, or sitting in the GM’s seat, you can find something to play. Needless to say, this is a good problem to have. It makes older titles look even more primitive, and as we move forward, stresses the importance of NBA Live being able to improve upon the depth and variety of its modes.

While it’s a good problem to have, a bevy of deep modes can leave us struggling to get the most out of a title before the next game is released. As I’ve discussed, it’s a problem that’s further exacerbated when there are multiple hoops titles that you want to play. I’ve spent many hours playing basketball games over the years, and I’ve built up a substantial collection of titles. However, I can’t say that I’ve been able to get the most out of all them, or spent as much time with some of the modes as I would have liked. Glancing at the modes in recent games, or looking back at older titles, I can think of at least five modes that I feel I’ve neglected.

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Wayback Wednesday: Shaquille O’Neal & NBA Live

Shaquille O'Neal in NBA Live 09

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! In this feature, we dig into the archives, look back at the history of basketball gaming, and indulge in some nostalgia. Check in every Wednesday for retrospectives and other features on older versions of NBA Live, NBA 2K, and old school basketball video games in general. You’ll also find old NLSC editorials re-published with added commentary, and other flashback content. This week, I’m taking a look back at Shaquille O’Neal’s history with NBA Live.

Before the 2019 NBA Finals tipped off, it was noted that the series marked the 35th year in a row that the league’s championship round featured a player who was at one time a teammate of Shaquille O’Neal. It’s not the first time that Shaq’s connections to a Finals participant has come up, but with LeBron James’ offseason move to the Los Angeles Lakers after eight consecutive Finals appearances with the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, there was speculation that the streak may finally come to an end. Thanks to Danny Green and the champion Toronto Raptors, it remains intact.

With a nineteen year career that began in 1992 and ended in 2011, and saw six stops along the way, the streak is arguably less surprising than it seems. Given the number of journeyman he played with, and his own nomadic nature later on in his career, it’s no surprise that there are connections stretching out in both directions. On the virtual hardwood, Shaquille O’Neal has a similar streak of longevity, particularly when it comes to the NBA Live series. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: How Online Modes Are Killing Retro Gaming

How Online Modes Are Killing Retro Gaming

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a few thoughts on how a focus on online modes and content is killing – or at the very least, putting a serious damper on – retro gaming on the virtual hardwood.

Unless you’re talking about beloved classics, sports games – and in particular, the ones that see a new release every year – tend not to be very popular in retro gaming circles. Because they’re attempting to capture reality in both their gameplay and aesthetics, they tend to age worse than other genres. Sports gamers want the latest release, set in the most recent season. As a result, sports games don’t make second-hand retailers a lot of money, resulting in their trade-in value being very low. If you’ve ever tried to trade in your old basketball titles, you’ll know that all too well.

This phenomenon predates the more recent approach to designing basketball games, though it used to be easier to stick with an older title, or go back to one. One could have a lot of fun dusting off an old favourite, and indeed, that’s a major factor for my Wayback Wednesday features. However, the games of the current generation don’t have the same retro gaming appeal. The heavy focus on online modes and content mean that titles are far more limited than they used to be once the servers have been shut down and support has ceased. It’s not just online multiplayer that’s been cut off, but access to major parts of the single player retro gaming experience, too.

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