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 comparison of my experiences with face scans in NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19.
Hey, do you think by using the words “Two Face” in the title of this week’s Tip-Off, I’ll draw a few hits from people Googling the iconic Batman villain? Probably not, but if for some reason that is how you got here, I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you. Likewise, if you’re looking for articles about the colloquialism “two-faced” or a certain psychological concept, you’ve hit upon the wrong article. Of course, if you do happen to enjoy basketball video games, then I certainly invite you to stick around and take in our content!
With that being said, basketball gaming is, as always, the topic of the day. On this occasion, I’m talking about my different experiences performing face scans in NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19. While it is my intention to dial back my involvement with the career modes this year, I was always going to check them out. Since the option is available, I also tried to scan my face in for both my One Player and MyPLAYER. There were moments of frustration attempting both face scans, but one game yielded far better results than the other. Without any further musing about drawing in a few unsuspecting people via the SEO, I present a Tale of Two Face Scans.
As in previous years, the companion apps for NBA Live and NBA 2K were released in time for the demo and The Prelude respectively. This allowed us to not only get a start on this year’s career modes, but test out the face scanning and put ourselves in the game ahead of the full release. My experience in previous years has been that NBA Live’s face scanning is much easier to use than NBA 2K’s, and yields far better results. While I have encountered difficulties with the NBA Live app here and there, 2K’s scanning functionality has been a chore. I could never get it to work with the PS4 camera, and the results with the MyNBA2K phone apps haven’t been much better.
This year proved to be no different. Although I had a couple of face scans fail with the NBA Live companion app, it only took one more attempt, and then a little patience as it was rendering, to get my mug in the game. I knew that the result wouldn’t be great as I was performing the scan in the evening with less than ideal lighting, but I just wanted to get a face scan uploaded so that I could get started on the demo. The MyNBA2K19 app was, once again, a nightmare. It constantly lost track of my face, required me to re-scan several times to get all of the necessary images, and then promptly crashed while uploading the data. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed.
To that end, I played through the NBA Live 19 demo with a somewhat ghastly face scan. Because of the lighting and the shadows that had fallen across my face, my eyes were brown instead of blue, and frankly, it looked like I was cosplaying as WWE Legend, The Undertaker. I wasn’t really frustrated though, as those less than accurate results were my own doing, and kind of funny. As for NBA 2K19 The Prelude, my frustration with the app led me to stick with the in-game creation functions, which are reasonably comprehensive this year. I was very amused that one of the faces bore a striking resemblance to Eminem, so I created a bootleg Marshall Mathers.
So that’s how I played through the NBA Live 19 demo and NBA 2K19 The Prelude: as a creepy-looking fellow and a knock-off Eminem called Marshall Mathews, since I wanted to pick a surname from the game’s audio bank and that felt like the closest to Mathers. And you know what? I enjoyed myself! I didn’t need accurate face scans to appreciate the improvements in gameplay, or this year’s approach to both of the career modes. I figured I’d give my NBA Live 19 scan another try in better lighting, most likely when the full game came out. As for NBA 2K19, I kind of liked creating a fictional character, rather than just slapping my own name on my MyPLAYER again.
Shortly after the full versions of NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 dropped, I decided to make another attempt at my face scans. I had a couple of quite accurate, well-lit scans go to waste when the NBA Live app crashed or failed to upload, and after getting the same error message time and time again, I took a break. After my frustration subsided and my patience returned, I tried again, and managed to upload a new scan to NBA Live 19. The result was one of the best face scans that I’ve ever managed to achieve in NBA Live or NBA 2K. My eyes were the right colour, my facial features were quite accurate, and there were no shadows or discoloured patches of skin.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for NBA 2K19. After familiar fumbling with failed scans and re-scans to get specific angles, I finally managed to get a scan that the app deemed usable, and uploaded it to the 2K server. Mindful of advice I’d received about letting my phone lock during the upload, I kept tapping the screen to ensure that it stayed active. Everything seemed to go to plan, at which point I fired up the game and went into the MyPLAYER Lab to apply the face scan. The game began building my face, but it failed at around 70%, displaying an all too familiar error message: try again, and “pay close attention” to the instructions.
I’ve grumbled about some of NBA 2K’s oddly passive-aggressive and annoyingly condescending error messages before, and this one is definitely the worst. It’s an unhelpful suggestion, given that the MyNBA2K19 app – like its predecessors – gave every indication that I had done everything correctly, and that a suitable face scan had been performed. Tired of messing around with the app and having a few choice words to say about the familiar error message, I immediately gave up on the idea of scanning my face into NBA 2K19. I returned to the Lab and using its in-game tools, created a face that didn’t really look like me, but was clearly as good as I was going to get.
Looking at other people’s screenshots and videos, I know that face scans in NBA 2K do actually work. However, I’ve always found their scanning functionality to be very clunky, and even when it has worked, the results haven’t been anywhere near as good as my NBA Live face scans. That error message is extremely off-putting as well. It seemingly just blames the user for an issue with the app and/or game; even if it is a problem with something I’m doing, a vague and condescending message about paying closer attention to the instructions doesn’t help me correct that. Once again, the fact that the app indicates that the scan was successful makes me think it’s not my doing.
If you are struggling with face scans in the NBA Live companion app, I can offer up a couple of tips. Make sure you’re in a well-lit area and nothing is casting a shadow on your face. Looking directly into the camera (rather than at the screen) should get your correct eye colour, at least if your eyes are blue. Turn your head slowly and try not to incline it, or move it further from or closer to the screen. Steady your arms as best as you can, or try getting someone else to hold your device. When you get to the point of uploading a scan, be patient. If you see a notification that your device is downloading files, it’s retrieving a successful render that you’ll be able to approve for use.
When it comes to NBA 2K19, unfortunately I can’t help you there. I’ve had very little luck so far, and honestly, I don’t feel inclined to try again. I do believe that 2K must improve their system. It does obviously work for a lot of people, but I know many others have run into similar problems, or ended up with lousy face scans. If nothing else, that error message needs to change, and provide better feedback on what went wrong. I did have passable scans in NBA 2K17 and NBA 2K18 (more so the former), but generally speaking, when it comes to my face scans, it’s a familiar tale. As it is, I’ll just run with a great scan in NBA Live 19 and a very generic face in NBA 2K19.