Menu
Home | Features

Features

Monday Tip-Off: Picking a Franchise Mode Team for 2019

Joel Embiid dunks the basketball 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 a few thoughts on picking a team to use in franchise modes for the 2019 season.

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” That’s how I’m feeling about career modes, which as I noted last week, I’m somewhat burned out on. Nevertheless, those of us who have been playing as the official NLSC Pro-Am squad these last few years have been talking about giving it another run in NBA 2K19, just to see if it’s something that we can enjoy in addition to our solo gaming. Alternatively, we might shake things up and see if we can get a game of MyLEAGUE Online going, perhaps even making a story topic out of it since activity is picking up on that board.

Whatever happens in that regard, I’m keen to return to my roots as a franchise gamer, and set career modes as a lower priority in my basketball gaming activities this year. It’s been too long since I allowed myself to get caught up in the fun and excitement of running a team, playing the role of head coach, general manager, and indeed, every player on the squad. In MyLEAGUE, we’ve never had a deeper franchise mode to sink our teeth into. Even if NBA Live 19’s Franchise mode isn’t everything that I’d like it to be, it’s still something I’ll check out. There’s an important question facing me however, no matter which franchise mode I play: which team should I choose?

Read More »

Wayback Wednesday: The Isometric Camera Angle in NBA Live

Isometric Camera Angle in NBA Live 95 (Rockets vs Magic)

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 iconic isometric camera angle in NBA Live.

Camera angles have a significant impact on the quality of the gameplay experience across a wide variety of genres. As many titles in the early days of 3D would end up demonstrating, poorly designed camera angles and movement resulted in artificial difficulty, either by obscuring the player’s view at inopportune moments, or simply by not providing a suitable view of the action at any time. In sports video games, a bad camera angle made it a lot easier to step out of bounds, and it was harder to determine where players were in relation to each other and the field of play.

Most early basketball video games used a similar sideline camera angle, which was fine for the time, but did have a few drawbacks. EA Sports would change things up with the release of NBA Live 95, when they switched to an isometric camera angle. Not only does it remain a distinctive look that gamers found appealing, it also made the gameplay experience far more enjoyable. Let’s take a look back…way back…

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: Burned Out on Career Modes

Career Modes are focusing more on characters and stories (NBA 2K18 MyCAREER Trailer)

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 I’ve become burned out on career modes in basketball video games.

As I’ve mentioned on the NLSC Podcast and in a few previous articles, I’m feeling a strong desire to return to my roots as a franchise gamer. Years ago, I spent most of my time with NBA Live playing Dynasty mode, documenting my experiences in the Stories section of our Forum. Despite the strength of Association mode in NBA 2K, when I finally started to warm up to Visual Concepts’ series, MyCAREER turned out to be the mode I got hooked on. I also found myself enjoying the connected modes, primarily 2K Pro-Am. My gaming habits had certainly changed.

However, I now find myself looking to make another change, and return to the kind of experience that I played almost exclusively for so many years. That’s partly due to the fact that with MyLEAGUE and MyGM, franchise modes have never been better or deeper. They’re very appealing in their own right, but I’m also encouraged to return to them because the single player career experience has worn thin for me. While both NBA Live and NBA 2K are looking to do some tremendous things with their career modes this year, it’s coming at a bad time for me. After several years of playing them – particularly MyCAREER – I’m feeling quite burned out.

Read More »

The Friday Five: 5 Toughest Trophies & Achievements

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 lists five trophies (or depending on the platform, achievements) that rank among the toughest in basketball games.

Trophies and achievements are an aspect of modern gaming that tends to divide most gamers into a couple of broad categories: those who take pride in collecting as many of them as possible, and those who are mostly indifferent to them. Some gamers may view trophies and achievements with some degree of scorn, but I’ve always found them to be a fun idea. They’re a clear goal for completionists to aim for, and in many cases suggest interesting challenges, perhaps even hinting at modes and features we wouldn’t normally think of trying out.

Of course, some trophies and achievements are attained very easily, simply by playing through a game’s story or campaign. Such is the case with several basketball games, where progressing through the career mode or completing tutorials is enough to earn several of them. There are some that are far more difficult to attain though, and that’s what we’re looking at today. Since any trophies and achievements for online features eventually become impossible to attain when the servers are shut down, I’m excluding them from this list unless they were also notably difficult to get at the time; otherwise, they’d all make the list by default. Without any further ado, let’s tip off the list!

Read More »

Wayback Wednesday: Playing With The Developers in NBA Live

Unlockable Developers in NBA Live 98

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 times we were able to unlock the developers and their hidden teams in NBA Live.

These days, there is a lot more awareness of who the people behind our favourite basketball video games are. Many of them are visible and active on Twitter, which affords us an opportunity to ask them questions and provide feedback for future releases. That level of interaction wasn’t possible in the early days of basketball gaming, but we did have some awareness of the developers behind the games we were playing. Not only were their names prominently displayed on the credits screens, but in some cases, we could actually play with them.

It’s something of an antiquated feature these days, with more focus on bonus content such as historical squads and the like. All things considered, that has been the right direction for basketball video games to take, but there is a certain charm in those old cheat codes that allowed us to play with a game’s developers. It was a feature in more than one NBA Live title, so let’s take a look back…way back…

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: NBA Content in NBA Live 19

Joel Embiid 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 a few thoughts on what has to happen with the NBA content in NBA Live 19, from gameplay to game modes.

The NBA Live 19 demo will be out later this week, and I for one am excited. While NBA Live 18 took many steps in the right direction, there was still a certain amount of roughness and room for improvement. From everything we’ve seen and heard so far, it seems that NBA Live 19 has made another pleasing leap forward. While I do expect that there will still be ways in which the game can get even better in the future, it’s shaping up to be a good year for NBA Live as it continues to make its way back to being a viable alternative for sim basketball gamers.

To that end, however, there is an area that is of some concern: the NBA content. So far, the previews have mostly focused on The One, with a particular emphasis on The Streets World Tour. While this is a tremendous hook for NBA Live 19 and has clearly led to some positive buzz, many of us are a little concerned about the NBA side of the game. Although NBA Live does need to have its own appeal and approach, there are certain aspects where it needs to go head to head with NBA 2K, namely in terms of being a realistic and enjoyable NBA sim. From modes to gameplay, a lot of us are hoping that NBA Live 19 is as good on the NBA hardwood as it is in The Streets.

Read More »

The Friday Five: 5 Retro Teams I’d Like To See in NBA 2K (Part 7)

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 part seven in a series of lists of retro teams that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K.

It seems that I can’t stop thinking about historical content that I’d like to see in future editions of NBA Live and NBA 2K. Following on from last week’s countdown of the Top 5 Legends I’d like to see return to NBA Live, I’ve got another list of five retro teams that I believe would make great additions to NBA 2K. You’d think I might be out of ideas after parts one, two, three, four, five, and six, but there are still several teams outside of champions, their opponents, and other perennial contenders that would enhance the selection of retro teams.

As with the previous articles, I’ll start out by explaining that my previous picks still stand. These new picks aren’t meant to replace my previous suggestions, or take any priority over them. I’ll also mention once again that these suggestions are being made under the assumption that all (or at least most) of the key players could be licensed, if they don’t already appear in NBA 2K. After all, it would defeat the purpose of adding any historical squad if none of their star players and other key members of the team were featured. With that being said, let’s get to another five retro teams that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K’s roster of historical content.

Read More »

Wayback Wednesday: The EA Sports Bio in NBA Live 2004

My NBA Live featuring the EA Sports Bio in NBA Live 2004

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 EA Sports Bio in NBA Live 2004.

In these days of microtransactions for ratings boosts and cosmetic items alike, the notion of receiving rewards for simply playing a game seems rather quaint. Likewise, the idea of having to unlock additional content rather than it being openly promoted as a selling point, either by having it readily available out of the box or perhaps as a pre-order exclusive, seems delightfully retro. That’s how it used to be though, with most content either being unlocked by completing some objective, earning points for an in-game shop, or in some cases, punching in a code.

For their range of 2004 season games, EA Sports introduced a new initiative that was intended to reward gamers, as well as provide an incentive to buy more than one title. That initiative was the EA Sports Bio, a feature that was exclusive to consoles. Even though it was intended to drive sales and put the squeeze on the competition, it was an initiative that benefited gamers even if you only purchased one title, as I did with NBA Live 2004. It’s an interesting concept that inspired features in later games, so let’s take a look back…way back…

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: Cynicism & Developer Blogs

Developer blogs always deliver promising information (NBA 2K19, MyLEAGUE)

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 the cynicism we often feel when we read developer blogs.

NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 are just a month away from release, which means we’re in the thick of the preview season. We’re not necessarily getting huge information dumps or new media every day of the week, but the stream of previews is growing steadier as their launch draws nearer. Of course, there are still quite a few things that we’d like to learn about the upcoming games, even though they’re already available to pre-order and will be released in just four weeks. As previously discussed, this has become the norm for basketball gaming’s preview season.

So far, we’ve had one deep-dive developer blog for NBA 2K19, detailing all of the improvements and additions to MyLEAGUE, MyGM, and MyLEAGUE Online in this year’s game. More developer blogs should be on their way, and Mike Wang has also been dropping some important information about gameplay enhancements via his Twitter account, but sometimes it’s difficult to take even the best news at face value. When we take a look back at the developer blogs throughout the years, it’s easy to notice a few patterns and recurring themes. Some people may call it “hating”, but if you’ve experienced a few preview seasons, it can be tough not to get a little cynical.

Read More »

The Friday Five: Top 5 Legends I’d Like to See in NBA Live

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 countdown of the Top 5 NBA Legends that I’d like to see featured in NBA Live.

As NBA Live continues to evolve into a viable alternative to NBA 2K for basketball gamers seeking a sim experience, it’s important that it becomes a well-rounded title. This means that on top of quality gameplay that realistically depicts the NBA, modes must also be deep and engaging. It’s also important to include some additional content beyond the current NBA teams. NBA Live has obviously found a great hook in the global courts found in The Streets, as well as WNBA players, but one area where it could stand to improve is in its usage of historical content, specifically NBA Legends.

It’s tough to match what NBA 2K has done in terms of utilising Legends, not only with its historical squads but also the All-Time Teams. However, NBA Live could do a little more with the Legends that EA Sports has licensed, beyond simply featuring them in Ultimate Team. From Decade All-Stars to the ability to assign Legends to the current teams, there are ways that they could (and should) have a bigger presence in NBA Live. There are some prominent names missing however, Legends that I’d love to see in EA’s game once more. Licensing some of them is easier said than done, but should it ever be feasible, these are the Top 5 Legends I’d like to see in NBA Live.

Read More »

Wayback Wednesday: The Tandy Rec Center in NBA Live 06 PC

Dwyane Wade in the Tandy Rec Center (NBA Live 06 PC)

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 Tandy Rec Center in NBA Live 06.

In addition to the commendable job that EA Sports has done with the team arenas in NBA Live, the series has boasted some interesting and well-designed venues beyond the NBA hardwood. From the street courts in NBA Live 2003 to The Temple in the Xbox 360 versions of NBA Live 06 and 07, to The Hangar and the global courts we’re set to experience in NBA Live 19, NBA Live’s art team has done some great things with real and fictional venues alike. One practice venue that doesn’t get mentioned very often however is the Tandy Rec Center in the PC version of NBA Live 06.

A little out of the norm for a sim-oriented NBA video game, it nevertheless stands out as one of the more unique venues featured in the NBA Live series. Since I’ve already taken a look back at several of the old practice and 1-on-1 courts in NBA Live, I felt it would only be fitting to profile this distinctive gym from one of my all-time favourite games. Let’s take a look back…way back…

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: How Other Games Helped Our Modding Community

bigGUI came from the FIFA Modding Community

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 at how other games have helped our modding community here at the NLSC.

When it was announced back in June that Madden 19 would be released for PC, the news was met with enthusiasm, and not just from the Madden community. While PC gamers who have been waiting for the return of EA’s NFL series are reaping the most tangible benefits right now, it’s welcome news for those of us in the basketball gaming community as well. Madden’s return to PC bodes well for the possibility of NBA Live also making the jump back to the platform in the future, something we’ve wanted to see since the game became a console exclusive beginning in 2008.

For now though, it’s merely a promising sign for the future. As discussed in Episode #258 of the NLSC Podcast, it was encouraging to hear Connor Dougan talk about a PC version of NBA Live in a recent interview, and even make specific mention of mods. The prospect of a revitalised Madden modding community should also be of great interest to us as a possible indication of what we should expect from a future PC release for NBA Live. After all, while we’ve done some great work over the years, the other talented modding communities that created content for EA Sports games helped us immensely. Indeed, without their contributions, we’d have been far less productive.

Read More »

The Friday Five: Top 5 Favourite Cards in NBA Live 18 Ultimate Team

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 countdown of my Top 5 favourite cards in NBA Live 18 Ultimate Team.

Ultimate Team has been my mode of choice in NBA Live 18. Despite a couple of nice additions this year, Franchise mode isn’t quite deep enough for my liking; a situation that I hope will change. Although a lot of fine work was done with The One, I’m a little burned out on career modes from playing so much MyCAREER in recent years. Being in Australia, I found the online experience to be unusually laggy for an NBA Live title, making LIVE Events somewhat less fun for me than they probably were for others. As such, it’s Ultimate Team that’s held the most appeal for me.

It’s not the first time that I’ve been drawn into the mode, either. As someone who used to collect basketball trading cards back in the 90s, Ultimate Team has brought back fond memories of opening packs and being excited at the haul, and coveting certain cards in particular. I’m clearly not alone, as the Ultimate Team discussion in our NBA Live 18 Forum has been the most popular topic in the section. With that in mind, I’m making a countdown of my Top 5 favourite cards in Ultimate Team this year. Keep in mind that they aren’t necessarily the five best cards to have, just the five that I like the best, and most enjoyed having in my lineup.

Read More »

Wayback Wednesday: Swapping Files in NBA Live 95 & NBA Live 96 PC

Switched Sonics & Rockets Logos in 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 dusting off NBA Live 95 and NBA Live 96 PC, and swapping some files around.

Let’s do something a little different for this week’s Wayback Wednesday; let’s tinker with the PC versions of NBA Live 95 and NBA Live 96! Specifically, we’re going to swap some art files between the games, just to see what works. The idea of swapping compatible files between games didn’t take off until much later, mostly because we generally didn’t create much in the way of custom art mods for the early games in the series. My complete update for NBA Live 96 featured updated logos and jerseys that another member contributed, but generally speaking, rosters didn’t include art updates.

With dial-up Internet connections, comprehensive updates simply weren’t the done thing. It’s a shame we didn’t look into it though, because there are assets that can be swapped between NBA Live 95 and NBA Live 96. There’s not a wide variety of mods that can benefit from this technique, but if nothing else, it could’ve enhanced roster updates with some season-specific artwork. Let’s take a look back…way back…

Read More »

Monday Tip-Off: Time to Light the Fire on a New NBA Jam

A roster update added Kyrie Irving to NBA Jam: On Fire Edition

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 why it’s time EA Sports brought out another NBA Jam game.

Although I’m a long-time fan of sim-oriented basketball games, I’m also a big fan of NBA Jam from back in the day. It’s something that I’ve mentioned several times on the NLSC Podcast, and it’s likely quite evident from all the times that I’ve covered a topic related to NBA Jam in Wayback Wednesday features. When the possibility of a brand new entry in the series was seemingly hinted at earlier in the year, I compiled a list of things that I believe a new NBA Jam game should have. As much as a new NBA Street game would be great to have, I’m still partial to seeing another Jam title.

Not only do I believe there is still a market for the game, but it feels like the time is ripe to bring back NBA Jam. The success of the original NBA Playgrounds last year has rejuvenated interest in the genre, though it arguably never went out of vogue in the first place. More importantly, we now know that its sequel – freshly renamed NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 – will be published by 2K Sports. With NBA Playgrounds joining the “2K family“, I’d love to see EA Sports resurrect the classic arcade property that it owns the rights to. With 2K going all in on an arcade hoops title in addition to their long-running sim game, it’s time for EA to light the fire on a new NBA Jam.

Read More »