Monday Tip-Off: Holidays on the Virtual Hardwood

Holidays on the Virtual Hardwood (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 what I’ll be doing on the virtual hardwood these holidays.

With 2018 rapidly drawing to a close and Christmas Eve upon us, I’m in the mood to kick back with some gaming on the virtual hardwood…and maybe the virtual blacktop as well. While I’ll be spending time with family, going away with friends over New Year’s, and of course preparing future content for the NLSC, I’m looking forward to just relaxing with one of my favourite hobbies. With no less than four current hoops games out at the moment, the holidays make the process of juggling several titles a little bit easier.

Being that it is one of my favourite hobbies, basketball gaming is something that I’ve come to associate with the holidays. The school holidays were a time when my cousin and I would run franchise games in NBA Live 2000, replay the 1995 season in NBA Live 95, and defeat and play with every team in NBA Jam Tournament Edition. These days, I don’t have as long of a break and do have a few more responsibilities to get back to, but I’ll still have time to hit the virtual hardwood. The question is: what will I focus on playing as I wind down 2018? These are my current basketball gaming plans for the next week or so.

As I’ve mentioned in recent weeks, despite feeling burned out on career modes in the lead up to NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 being released, I’ve found myself playing a lot of MyCAREER in the latter. The experience has been so much better compared to NBA 2K18, and although it’s been a grind, I’ve enjoyed the feeling of levelling up my player from a lowly 60 Overall. As of this writing, I’m currently at 86 Overall, and have resisted the temptation to speed up the process by purchasing VC. I’ve also got all of my Badges unlocked with only five left to max out, and am about a quarter of the way towards doing so. I imagine I’ll be playing a few more games these holidays.

All-Star Weekend in MyCAREER (NBA 2K19)

I’m already past the All-Star Weekend in MyCAREER though, and having made so much progress already, it might be time to get into MyLEAGUE. I’ve wanted to get back into franchise gaming for so long, and began a Start Today MyLEAGUE a little over a month ago. Unfortunately, I’ve been so engrossed in grinding in MyCAREER that I haven’t had a chance to play it! The holidays obviously provide an opportunity to make some progress there, and take a break from the career experience. Given how far the Bulls have fallen in the standings over the past few weeks, I don’t think that beginning a new Start Today game is really appealing, so I’d rather play catch up.

Despite the improvements in NBA Live 19’s gameplay, I’ve found it difficult to get hooked on the game. My desire to level up my player in NBA 2K19 is certainly a factor here, especially given that our One Player in NBA Live 19 starts out with much higher ratings. However, the modes have left me wanting more. In previous years, I was hooked on Ultimate Team, and got tremendous enjoyment out of the mode last year. Unfortunately, NBA Live 19’s take on LUT has left me cold so far. Some new content has come through for the holidays however and it does look promising, so I expect I’ll check it out before it expires in the New Year.

In a similar vein, MyTEAM holds a lot more appeal for me this year. Previously, I haven’t cared for the pack odds in NBA 2K’s team building mode (even if they aren’t too dissimilar to real card packs), but through Locker Codes and pre-order bonuses, I’ve been able to put together a decent squad without really playing MyTEAM as yet. Over the past week, I managed to unlock the Auction House on both PC and PS4, so I’ve got a place to spend my MT. That being said, I’ll have to save it up to spend on some Michael Jordan Anniversary packs while they’re still available, as I’m saving all of my Virtual Currency for upgrades in MyCAREER.

Christmas Playground in NBA 2K Playgrounds 2

NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 hasn’t been in my basketball gaming rotation as much as I intended. Although it hasn’t proven to be as big of an improvement as I would’ve liked, it’s still very solid, and a step up from last year. I’ll be catching up with my cousin over the break, so perhaps we’ll have to throw it back to our high school days and play some co-op games. I have a lot of players to unlock, and Baller Bucks to save up so that I can get Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen ahead of pulling them in packs. Much like NBA Jam TE back in the day, Playgrounds 2 should be an enjoyable change of pace in between playing the sim games.

Speaking of which, I’m determined to defeat the Phantom Five in Basketball Classics. First of all, they’re a tough challenge, and it would feel like quite an accomplishment if I can do so. Second, if I can get past them, I’m able to unlock…well, myself! Yes, the NLSC Pro-Am squad is unlockable in Basketball Classics! I made the suggestion to Josh and Dave after I interviewed them for the NLSC Podcast, and they were very enthusiastic about adding our squad – complete with logo and court – as an unlockable in their fantastic retro-style hoops title. ¬†Right now, I’m wishing for a cheat code to get by the Phantom Five, but let’s face it: there’s more pride in beating them legitimately.

Retro gaming on Christmas Day has become something of a tradition for me, so these holidays I might extend that to the virtual hardwood. Whether it’s going way back and dusting off a classic like NBA Jam TE, or playing a more recent favourite like NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, I figure that it will be fun to break up the rotation. I might also go back and try to address some unfinished business in some other games. I’ve been chasing some Steam Achievements in NBA 2K PC, since my double-dipping habits have seen me mostly playing the PS4 versions. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to make much progress in NBA 2K17 MyCAREER before the servers shut down.

NBA 2K11 2018 Roster Teaser (Kevin Durant vs LeBron James)

I was hoping to get some modding done during the holidays, and may dabble with it in between actually playing on the virtual hardwood. In fact, I was hoping to get some new roster updates for NBA Live 2005 through NBA Live 08 and NBA 2K11 out by the start of the new season, but other content – as well as life in general – got in the way. I haven’t given up on those projects though, and with any luck, I’ll be able to get them out early in 2019. I’ve scaled back on my modding in recent years due to burn out, a lack of free time, and a desire to create other content, but I have felt bitten by the bug in 2018. I guess I’ll have to work on some belated Christmas presents!

Obviously, we’ve all got plans over the holidays that keep us away from the virtual hardwood, and it’s important to spend time with friends and family. If you do get time to play some basketball games however, remember that our Forum and Downloads section are open 24/7! Thank you for checking out Monday Tip-Off throughout 2018, I hope you enjoyed the features and will come back for more content in 2019. Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings to you and your family; may all of your jumpshot releases be green, throughout the holidays and beyond!

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