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Monday Tip-Off: All That’s Leaked is Hot Air

Kyrie Irving dribbles the basketball in NBA 2K18

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 annual round of deceptive, clickbait content that claims to be leaked footage and information.

The preview seasons for NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 are still at least a few months away, but it seems that the fakers are getting an early start. Over the past couple of weeks, supposed “leaked” details and fake trailers for this year’s games from EA Sports and Visual Concepts have been making the rounds, and sadly, it seems a lot of people have been fooled. As we discussed in the most recent episode of the NLSC Podcast, these practices do nothing to help the basketball gaming community. We need to be aware that people are trying to fool us and call it out, not entertain the notion that clear fakes and clickbait lies are leaked media and reliable scoops.

This behaviour is nothing new, and I’ve discussed it before. As long as online gaming communities have been around, there have been trolls signing up to forums or getting in touch with fan websites, claiming to have insider information. With social media and YouTube providing platforms for virtually everyone to have their say and create content, it’s easier than ever to spread misinformation and hoaxes. The more tech savvy trolls can easily whip up screenshots and even videos that can be presented as leaked previews of an upcoming release. At a glance, the better fakes may be halfway convincing, but really, the only thing that’s leaking here is a bunch of hot air.

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The Friday Five: My Top 5 Favourite NBA 2K 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 countdown of my personal Top 5 favourite games in the NBA 2K series.

In the five years that I’ve been writing The Friday Five, I’ve covered a lot of topics. I’m always thinking of what to write about next, and when some topics come to mind, it occurs to me how I should’ve discussed them a long time ago. Such is the case with today’s column, which is a countdown of my Top 5 favourite games in the NBA 2K series. I covered my Top 5 favourite games in the NBA Live series almost three years ago, so it’s about time I compiled a similar list for NBA 2K. I’ve admittedly changed my mind a little in regards to my top NBA 2K games, while my list for NBA Live does remain the same as of now.

As always, I have to stress that this countdown is a list of personal Top 5 favourites. It isn’t meant to be an unbiased, definitive list of the five best games in the series so far. These rankings are influenced by my own enjoyment and overall satisfaction with each release, not just an evaluation of their quality. It’s a list that’s intended to start the conversation, not end it. If you disagree, that’s fine; it’ll be interesting to compare notes in the comments section once I’ve finished having my say. Without any further ado, these are my Top 5 favourite games in the NBA 2K series, at least as of March 2018.

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Wayback Wednesday: Slam ‘N Jam PC Retrospective

Slam 'N Jam: Hook Shot

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 PC version of Slam ‘N Jam.

Back in the 90s, there were quite a few basketball video games that only licensed the name and likeness of a lone NBA star. Games like Michael Jordan in Flight, Barkley Shut Up & Jam, and David Robinson’s Supreme Court, all featured their namesake player alongside fictional teammates and opponents. In 1995, Crystal Dynamics (the developer responsible for Gex and Tomb Raider) and Left Field Productions (makers of Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside) released a couple of games with the name Slam ‘N Jam. The first game, Slam ‘N Jam ’95, featured only fictional players. It was followed by a sequel in 1996, titled Slam ‘N’ Jam ’96 Featuring Magic & Kareem.

As the title would imply, the sequel licensed the names and likenesses of both Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. While the original game had been exclusive to the 3DO, the sequel was released for the original PlayStation and SEGA Saturn. It was also ported to the PC, simply under the title of Slam ‘N Jam. That’s the version I’m focusing on today, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Juggling Realism in MyCAREER

Press Conference in MyCAREER (NBA 2K18)

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 MyCAREER should handle the amount of realism in all of its facets.

Although a shift in gaming practices may sometimes suggest otherwise, it’s fair to say that we generally want basketball video games to be as realistic as possible. Even if we’re indulging in a fantasy by putting ourselves into the NBA and simulating the life of a professional basketball player, the general aim is to mix reality and fantasy. Sure, the tales that are now told through MyCAREER may be a bit far-fetched, our abilities are greatly enhanced, and we receive a lot of attention for a raw prospect, but apart from that, the gameplay and overall experience is intended to mimic real life.

This premise has made MyCAREER an extremely popular and successful mode. As I’ve said before, it’s made a fan out of me, despite traditionally preferring the franchise experience. However, as MyCAREER has expanded and introduced new concepts, from the connected online experiences to the hub world of The Neighborhood, there have been more and more inconsistencies with the way the mode has handled realism. Some of them are quite puzzling, and difficult to justify or reconcile with other design choices. Moving forward, the MyCAREER team will need to decide how to handle realism; specifically, when to be strict, and when to take liberties.

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The Friday Five: 5 Underrated Features in the NBA 2K Series

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 features in the NBA 2K series that are arguably underrated.

Following on from last week’s column, which looked at five features of the NBA Live series that could be considered underrated, I’m now taking a look at NBA 2K. Visual Concepts’ series of sim-oriented basketball video games has received a lot of praise over the past decade, and for good reason. The NBA 2K series has earned a lot of critical acclaim and sold millions of copies on the strength of its gameplay, deep game modes, and overall attention to detail. Even though we have our criticisms, NBA 2K has definitely had its strong points that are well-known and enthusiastically praised.

As I said last week, however, it’s often the little things that really make the basketball gaming experience special. The big features are important and they’re obviously what sell the games, but the smaller details often provide enhancements in many areas, be it greater accessibility or fun ways to play the game. At the same time, there are features that aren’t necessarily small, but still somewhat overlooked, or just not given their due for how enjoyable, helpful, or innovative they are. With that being said, here are five of the more underrated features in the NBA 2K series. Hopefully, the ones that are absent from recent releases can be implemented again at some point.

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Wayback Wednesday: Investigating NBA Jam TE’s Ratings

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 ratings in classic NBA Jam games, specifically the PC version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition.

While playing College Slam for last week’s Wayback Wednesday feature, I noticed something interesting about the individual player ratings. Since the generic players can be edited, there is a cap on their ratings to prevent you from maxing them out at nine in each category. Interestingly, the cap varies from player to player, which basically ensures that at least one player stands out as the star of the team with better all around ratings or high ratings in a few categories, while other players are capped at a lower amount of ratings points, establishing a hierarchy and balancing the squads.

Thinking back to some of the unusual ratings that I’ve noticed in the original NBA Jam games, I began to wonder if a similar approach had been taken in those titles, and whether it could account for some of the ratings that seemed too high or too low. I fired up the PC version of NBA Jam Tournament Edition to make a few calculations and comparisons, and what I discovered was quite interesting. There does seem to be a method to the ratings, and I’m not sure if it’s ever really been explored, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Quest for a Reliable Jumpshot

Shooting a jumpshot on MyCOURT (NBA 2K18)

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 some reflections on my experiences trying to find a reliable jumpshot for my MyPLAYER in NBA 2K18’s MyCAREER and 2K Pro-Am.

When The Prelude was released in September last year, I agonised a little over the MyPLAYER Archetype I wanted to run with. Although I was tempted to run with a Pure Playmaker, I decided that I’d give Sharpshooting Playmaker a try. It seemed like a solid choice, especially as we wanted to make sure that we had at least a couple of viable threats from the outside on the NLSC’s 2K Pro-Am squad. Given that I like to rack up assists and run the offense, retaining the key skills and Badges of a Playmaker also seemed like a wise idea.

The results have been mixed. The Sharpshooting Playmaker Archetype doesn’t have a Hall of Fame level Badge, which locks me out of attaining one of the Trophies. As I’ve previously discussed, due to what seems to be an issue with my player’s dunking tendencies, I can very rarely throw down, even though I’ve upgraded my rating to be able to unlock a few fancy dunk packages. My biggest issue, however, is that I’m yet to find a jumpshot animation that I’m comfortable with. I’ve tried several jumpshots, from real players’ signature animations to custom jumpshots of various combinations. Unfortunately, none of them have been as reliable as I’d like.

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The Friday Five: 5 Underrated Features in the NBA Live Series

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 features in the NBA Live series that I feel are somewhat underrated.

As we compile our Wishlist for NBA Live 19, it’s important that we focus on the big features and the most pressing issues with the game. The most significant fixes and improvements to the experience will come through the development team focusing on the key aspects of controls, strategy, AI, authenticity, options, functionality, and the game modes. In other words, the most desirable changes and additions will be to the core elements of the gameplay, and the game’s biggest features. We don’t want EA to focus on inconsequential details. For example, fluid, realistic gameplay and a deep Franchise mode make a difference; the colour of the menus does not.

However, sometimes the little things go a long way in enhancing the experience, and making NBA Live more fun. When compiling a Wishlist, it’s crucial that we point out those features as well, and how they can get better. To that end, I’ve been thinking about some of the features in previous NBA Live games that kind of fly under the radar, and are perhaps somewhat underrated. They may not be the flashiest features, or absolutely essential to the core experience, but if nothing else, they’re good ideas that I’d like to see return or retained in future NBA Live titles. Here are five such underrated features that the NBA Live series has had at one time or another.

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Wayback Wednesday: College Slam

College Slam Title Screen

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 College Slam.

College Slam is a 1996 title that a lot of basketball gamers may not remember, if indeed they’ve ever heard of it. I personally wasn’t aware of it until years later, since as is the case with all college basketball video games, it wasn’t available in PAL regions. Essentially an NCAA version of NBA Jam, it was developed by Iguana Entertainment and published by Acclaim, the companies who brought NBA Jam to home consoles and PC. Unlike NBA Jam, it wasn’t released in arcades, and never achieved the same level of popularity, largely due to its more limited release.

In many ways, College Slam is a re-skin of NBA Jam with NCAA licensing, but that is selling the game a little short. It did introduce a few new features that set it apart from its NBA licensed predecessor, and make it an interesting game to revisit. If the 2003 release from Acclaim is the forgotten NBA Jam, then College Slam is surely the forgotten spin-off. It’s another game worth remembering however, so let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: Modding Projects I’m Working On

Ultimate Jordan Roster for NBA Live 08: Michael Jordan vs. Jazz

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 previews of modding projects that I’m working on, as well as a few ideas I’m toying with.

I’m a bit under the weather today, and seeing as how I wasn’t able to prepare anything for this week’s Monday Tip-Off ahead of time, I don’t have a full column or a video feature for you. However, I thought that I’d follow up on something that I mentioned in Episode #238 of the NLSC Podcast, regarding next month and modding. I don’t want to reveal everything just yet as I’m still getting everything sorted, but I’d like to make March a celebration of modding in our community. I’m hoping to release some new work of my own, and get all of our active modders in on the act.

With any luck, that will all be tipping off in just a few days when March is upon us, but in the meantime, I wanted to share some previews of what I’ve been working on here and there, as well as a few ideas that I’d love to see come to fruition, if and when I can make time to work on them. With that in mind, I am a little hesitant to share some of these images as I’d rather not announce anything that I’m not going to be able to get finished, so please keep in mind that those ideas aren’t set in stone. I do have a couple of projects that are progressing quite nicely though, so without any further ado, here are a few things that I’m working on right now.

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The Friday Five: 5 Underrated Basketball Video 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 basketball video games that I’d consider to be somewhat underrated.

Underrated and overrated are tricky terms, often used very much subjectively. They suggest that the majority view is incorrect, which may certainly be the case, but can also indicate a strongly held minority view that isn’t without its own bias. Basically, whenever the matter of something being overrated or underrated is discussed, we need to ask “by whom?” After all, if the consensus is that someone or something is in fact underrated or overrated, then technically, they cease to be either. Indeed, that’s when someone or something that’s underrated can become overrated, and vice versa.

Discussions about semantics aside, it’s certainly possible to give too little credit and overlook, or to give too much credit and overhype. We’re looking at the former today, with a list of five underrated basketball video games. Now, that’s not to say that these titles haven’t received any acclaim at all, or that they’ve never been popular. However, either due to certain controversies or other games that were released in the same era, they’re not ranked or rated as highly as they perhaps should be; at least in my opinion. As always, keep in mind that this is intended to start the discussion, not stand as a definitive list. With that being said, let’s get to the Five!

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Wayback Wednesday: Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City

Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City Title Scr

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 Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City, a 1994 game for the Super Nintendo.

A few days ago, Michael Jordan celebrated his 55th birthday. As such, it seems only appropriate that this week’s Wayback Wednesday takes a look back at a game starring His Airness. Given that he is my favourite player, and obviously a very prominent name in basketball, I’ve focused on Michael Jordan in more than a couple of previous Wayback Wednesday features, covering a variety of MJ-related gaming topics from his PC exclusive three-on-three game, to his inclusion in NBA 2K11 along with the Jordan Challenge. This time, I’m changing things up with a retrospective of a licensed platform game, namely Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City.

Developed by Electronic Arts back when the company still had an agreement to use MJ’s likeness, it’s a quirky and interesting relic of its era. Chances are if you grew up playing video games in the 90s, you’ve heard of, played, rented, or owned this game at some point. We don’t usually cover platformers here at the NLSC, but as it stars one of the most recognisable names in the history of basketball, it’s worth talking about. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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Monday Tip-Off: What I’m Playing (February 2018 Edition)

Playing through Ultimate Team (NBA Live 18)

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 some quick thoughts on what I’m playing in NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18, at least as of February 2018.

NBA Live 18 and NBA 2K18 have been out for about five months now, and so far, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time playing both titles. As discussed in the latest episode the NLSC Podcast, I’ve settled into a routine as far as what I’m playing in each game. Although I might branch out and change things up from time to time, the modes I’m currently playing are the ones I expect I’ll remain hooked on until the 2019 season releases. As I’m running a bit short on time today and am still working on a few of other features that I hope you’ll find entertaining, I’ve decided to run with a quick column this week, discussing my current basketball gaming habits and rotation.

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

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 another list of five retro teams that I’d like to see added to NBA 2K.

Since I talked about some of the worst classic teams to be included in NBA 2K in last week’s Friday Five, it only makes sense to switch focus to some of the retro teams that I’d like to see in future games. There are quite a number of old teams that would be fun to play with in NBA 2K, and indeed, I posted five I was hoping to see added way back in August 2016. As it happened, a couple of the teams I mentioned have since made their way into the game (along with one from around the same era), so it seems that we should never say “never”.

As such, this is part two of what will probably end up being a series of articles on the retro teams that I’d like to see added in future NBA 2K games. While some teams are sadly unlikely due to an inability to license specific players, I’m making my picks based on the assumption that Visual Concepts would be able to find a way to come to terms with them. After all, it’s a list of teams I’d like to see in the game, not strictly a list of teams I think we feasibly could see. With that out of the way, and considering that I’d still like to see my previous suggestions added, let’s take a look at five more retro teams that I’d like to see in NBA 2K’s roster.

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Wayback Wednesday: Simulating To Today in NBA 2K10

NBA 2K10 Sim: Chicago Bulls Championship

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 using NBA 2K10 to simulate through to the current season.

It’s fair to say that the 2010 season marked a turning point for the NBA. Crossing into a new decade, it saw Kobe Bryant win the last of his five titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as the final clash between the Lakers and Boston Celtics to date. It was also the season before a free agent frenzy that included LeBron James’ infamous “Decision”, and several other big names changing teams. Whether or not you like the current trend of superstars joining forces via free agency to form “super teams”, or some of the other changes over the past decade, it’s been an eventful era.

As it happened, it was also a turning point for NBA video games. NBA Live 10 was the last NBA Live game before the ill-fated rebrand to NBA Elite, making 2010 the final season to see two sim-oriented releases until NBA Live returned for the 2014 campaign. I thought it’d be fun to go back to one of those games and simulate through to the present, just to see how the sim engine would predict everything would turn out. NBA 2K10 is a game I haven’t talked about all that much outside of one article, so it’s the one I’ve settled on for this exercise. Let’s take a look back…way back…and then bring it all back to the 2018 season.

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