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Monday Tip-Off: What Actually Ruins Basketball Video Games?

Victor Oladipo 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 the matter of what actually ruins basketball video games, and what are really more minor gripes.

Having been a part of the online basketball gaming community for over twenty years and admin of the NLSC for going on eighteen, I’ve both seen and taken part in some spirited discussions about the hobby. Our conversations about basketball video games have run the gamut from excitedly positive to furiously negative, depending on the issue and the quality of any given title. Given that we all have different tastes and expectations of basketball video games, our opinions will differ when it comes what will ruin our experience on the virtual hardwood. That’s fine, and to be encouraged!

Of course, it’s easy to exaggerate, especially when a pet peeve is involved. I recall one Forum member fuming over the use of the word “City” on the team statistics menu in NBA Live 2001. As they correctly pointed out, teams such as the Warriors, Jazz, and Pacers all take their names from their state rather than their city, making that label inaccurate. It’s a valid point, but a minor detail that was correct for most of the teams, and a criticism that paled in comparison with other issues in NBA Live 2001. Such issues are worth pointing out, but as we compile our Wishlists, it’s important that we prioritise problems that can ruin basketball video games, ahead of minor annoyances.

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Monday Tip-Off: An Actual Comparison of NBA Live’s Graphics

LeBron James dunks the basketball (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 a proper comparison of NBA Live’s graphics over the past few generations.

This topic has been on my list of Monday Tip-Off ideas for a while now, so it’s about time that I finally cover it. Since the reboot of the NBA Live series in 2013 with NBA Live 14, the game has been under heavy scrutiny from gamers and professional critics alike. It stands to reason, as our expectations of basketball video games have only grown over the years, especially with NBA 2K raising the bar with several fantastic releases. There has been a lot of very fair and accurate criticism of EA Sports’ hoops series, in this community and elsewhere, resulting in quality constructive feedback.

However, there have also been plenty of comments that are purely intended to bash the games, or present a hyperbolic critique. NBA Live’s graphics are usually the most frequent target in this regard, since they’re among the first impressions we have of any video game. Buzzwords like “cartoonish” are thrown around a lot, as are comparisons to PlayStation 2-era graphics. I’ve already explained the many problems with the word “cartoonish” in a previous article, so this time I’d like to focus on the accusations of “PS2 graphics”. Unlike “cartoonish”, there’s no ambiguity here, as we can make direct comparisons between games. When we do, it’s clearly an inaccurate assessment.

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The Friday Five: 5 Improvements Both NBA Live 19 & NBA 2K19 Need

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 are needed in both NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19.

The NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 Wishlists that we’ve submitted, in my opinion, comprehensively cover the most important suggestions for fixes, enhancements, and additions for both games. Each game has its own list of improvements that we’re hoping to see added in the next release; for NBA Live 19, I would suggest that it comes down to further polish to gameplay and more depth to modes. NBA 2K19, on the other hand, needs a slight course correction after some missteps in NBA 2K18. With that being said, while the games have their own issues, there are currently some that are common to both series, and areas in which they can both improve.

Please note that I’m not suggesting that these are necessarily the most important issues that must be addressed in both NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19. As I said, our Wishlists demonstrate that both games have a long laundry list of things that can be added or enhanced, and several are specific to one series or the other. Indeed, I’ve already discussed some of the specific things that NBA Live 19 and NBA 2K19 need to have in previous Friday Five columns. These are just areas where both games have some common problems and room for improvements, though the respective solutions may differ slightly. With that being said, let’s get to the first item on the list.

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The Friday Five: 5 Little Details Basketball Games Have Nailed

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 concepts and little details that basketball games have captured extremely well.

It bears repeating that it’s alright to criticise basketball games. As I’ve previously discussed, and will no doubt touch upon again in the future, it’s something that gaming communities can easily forget. Any gaming community that censors and discourages criticism is doing a disservice to the games that they’re interested in, and ultimately, themselves as consumers. Constructive criticism should always be encouraged over nastiness and abuse, but we must remember that it’s OK to point out the things that we dislike, while also discussing the elements that we enjoy.

By the same token, of course, it’s also fine to take a break from criticising the aspects of basketball games that we don’t like, to marvel at the things we do enjoy about them. In that regard, it’s quite often the little things that really make the experience. Basketball games have come a long way, and while improvements to graphics, AI, controls, and so forth are often more readily apparent, there are a lot of concepts and smaller details that are very impressive in their own right. They may be subtle, but often contribute that extra bit of authenticity to the overall experience. Here are five examples of little details that basketball games have really nailed in recent years.

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