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The Friday Five: 5 Additions That Would’ve Greatly Improved Games

The Friday Five: 5 Additions That Would've Greatly Improved Games

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five additions that would’ve greatly improved specific basketball video games.

We’ve yet to see a truly perfect basketball video game. That’s not surprising since true perfection is an unrealistic goal, and we all have our own ideas as to what that would entail besides. We have had some fantastic sim and arcade basketball games though, with the NBA Live, NBA 2K, NBA Jam, and NBA Street series all offering up some candidates for the best hoops titles of all-time. However, much as many of the all-time great players have had a weakness or two, the best basketball video games are often missing a feature or mode that would’ve made them even better.

Interestingly, it’s not just the all-time best basketball video games that feasibly could have been improved by just one addition. There are some very good and even a few mediocre games whose overall quality and reputations would be greatly impacted by the addition of a key feature or mode. It might not quite push them into the upper echelon of virtual hardwood classics, but hypothetically, they suddenly become far more appealing and playable with one big addition. I’ve selected five hoops games of varying quality, and nominated a major addition – one per game – that I believe either pushes them closer to “perfection”, or results in the most significant improvement.

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The Friday Five: 5 Evergreen Issues with NBA Live

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five issues with NBA Live that were seemingly evergreen.

When we look at the struggles that NBA Live endured for over a decade, there are two levels to our critique. The first concerns the minutia of the games; the hands-on experience, from gameplay to game modes. In other words, the technical issues and specific design choices that have resulted in titles which failed to live up to ours or EA’s expectations. That’s an important conversation to have, especially when we’ve compiled Wishlists, or otherwise sent in feedback to the developers. However, there’s also a second level in which we evaluate concepts and approach.

It’s at the conceptual level that you’ll find many evergreen issues with the NBA Live series, which have served to hold it back and take it in bad directions. It isn’t a case of laziness, a lack of knowledge, or even resources, though it could be argued that NBA Live has never received the same support from EA Sports brass as its other franchises. There are common mistakes that are present in all of the problematic NBA Live titles though, and even some of the best releases still suffer from these evergreen issues. A comeback for NBA Live will require many specific fixes and additions from a virtual basketball perspective, but conceptually, it must also break the cycle on these trends.

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Monday Tip-Off: End of the Road for PS4 & X1

Monday Tip-Off: End of the Road for PS4 & X1

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on how we might be reaching the end of the road as far as NBA 2K coming out on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Although I don’t support Next Gen Elitism any more than other forms of gatekeeping, there is a valid point when you sift through the snobbery. At some point, support does have to end for older hardware and software alike. It’s the same reason that, as much I dislike the timeframe and impact of NBA 2K’s server shutdowns, I do understand the practice. I can even relate it back to my time creating roster updates for NBA Live. As more and more gamers moved on to playing NBA 2K on PC, it was increasingly hard to justify the time and effort needed to mod games that were no longer as popular.

That’s just for mods that cost nothing to produce, and are freely available. Once the majority of gamers have moved on to the latest generation of consoles, it makes sense – technically and financially – for developers to leave the previous one behind. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the reality of the situation. With an annual release like NBA 2K, there’s always the question of how long the previous generation will still be supported. While I don’t have any official word about this – this is absolutely just me speculating – the series’ history and the handling of NBA 2K24’s preview season and post-release support subtly hint at this being the end of the road for PS4 and X1.

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NLSC Podcast #504: NBA 2K14, Ten Years Later

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From courtside of the virtual hardwood, it’s Episode #504 of the NLSC Podcast!

If you can believe it, last Wednesday marked a decade since NBA 2K14’s release on PlayStation 4! As such, this week we’re celebrating the tenth anniversary of a truly iconic game, and a personal favourite. That includes looking back to our first impressions of both versions of NBA 2K14, reminiscing about the countless hours we’ve spent with them right through to today, and reflecting on the PC modding scene. We also read out some memories of NBA 2K14 that the community shared with us. Additionally, we have some fantastic basketball gaming sessions from the past week to catch up on, including a game of NBA Live 16 that makes us wistful about yet another missed opportunity for EA Sports.

To get involved with the mailbag or to provide any feedback on the show, hit us up in the comments, reach out on social media, or post here in the NLSC Forum! For more information on the NLSC Podcast including episode guides, check out this page in our Wiki. You can also find the show on our YouTube channel, along with the rest of our video content. As always, thanks for tuning in, and go get buckets!

Monday Tip-Off: Next Gen Elitism Goes Back Generations

Monday Tip-Off: Next Gen Elitism Goes Back Generations

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some candid thoughts on elitist attitudes regarding the Next Gen consoles, and how they’ve been frequently disproven.

So, look. Getting older has its drawbacks. Creaky knees, more responsibilities, and existential dread all come to mind. At the same time, it has its perks! One of them is that you care a lot less about trends than you used to. When high school is rapidly becoming a smaller and smaller speck in the rear view mirror, you don’t really care if you’re not on the cutting edge of fashion, or not completely au fait with the latest slang. Youthful status symbols become increasingly meaningless when you’ve been out of school longer than you were ever in it.

Well…to a point. Not everyone enjoys being completely out of touch, even if you’re still generally comfortable in your own skin. More to the point, if you’re a content creator, then you have to care about trends, algorithms, and current events, at least to some extent. Unless you’re exclusively covering retro gaming, you’re going to need hardware that plays the latest titles. To that end, I do have a gaming PC capable of running new NBA 2K releases, as well as a PlayStation 5. I also have an interest in other genres of games, so it makes sense to invest in those platforms. What doesn’t make sense is the elitism that I see regarding ownership of Next Gen consoles.

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NBA 2K24 Out Now; Mods Folder in PC Version

NBA 2K24 Out Now; Mods Folder in PC Version

NBA 2K24 is out now on all platforms! Whether you prefer to go digital or pick up a physical copy from a store, you can now get your hands on this year’s game. As previously mentioned, I’ve launched the appropriate sections in our Forum, as well as added the necessary categories to our Downloads database. I’ve also added pages for the Next Gen and Current Gen update histories to our Wiki.

Speaking of modding, the PC version of NBA 2K24 has an exciting development! While we still don’t have any official modding tools from 2K, this year’s game includes a mods folder by default. This means we don’t need to use an unofficial plugin to have the game load custom files. This is something we haven’t had since NBA Live provided us with CustomArt, and it should definitely make creating and installing mods much easier!

Indeed, we’ve already got our first NBA 2K24 mod release – shout out to SexCurryBeats! – so stay tuned for a separate bulletin after a few more mods have been uploaded. In the meantime, please feel free to share your impressions of the game in the Forum, as well as get into modding if that’s your scene! Once again, we’d appreciate any help keeping our Wiki resources for NBA 2K24 updated, but as long as you’re enjoying our facilities and content, that’s the main thing. We’ll have plenty of post-release coverage and content for NBA 2K24 in the weeks and months to come, so keep it locked to the NLSC, and have a great time on the virtual hardwood!

First Look at The Neighborhood in NBA 2K24

First Look at The Neighborhood in NBA 2K24

As you may have seen, the official NBA 2K Twitter/X account – and yes, that branding change is still taking some getting used to! – posted a trailer and some screenshots of The Neighborhood in the Current Gen/PC version of NBA 2K24. After two years on a cruise ship, this year’s iteration of MyCAREER on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One will be keeping the theme of basketball in paradise, albeit in a coastal location.

From the screenshots and trailer, there will be courts right down on the beach, The Rec will be located in a castle, and it seems like 2K Pro-Am will be played in an airship! A personal MyCOURT will still be available, which The City on Next Gen has notably lacked since NBA 2K21. Indeed, the new coastal Neighborhood in NBA 2K24 seems to resemble a scaled down version of The City, rather than the block, town square, or indeed cruise ship from previous games.

You can check out the trailer below, as well as the screenshots that 2K has shared so far. Got any thoughts? Feel free to post them in the comments, as well as join in the discussion in our NBA 2K24 Forum!

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Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K6 Retrospective (Xbox 360)

Wayback Wednesday: NBA 2K6 Retrospective (Xbox 360)

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at the Xbox 360 version of NBA 2K6.

As I’ve said before, as someone who grew up with NBA Live, it took me a while to truly get into the NBA 2K series. There was a sense of brand loyalty, but beyond that, I was accustomed to NBA Live’s approach to controls, gameplay mechanics, and modes. I remember trying out the PlayStation 2 version of NBA 2K6, and feeling somewhat underwhelmed. If nothing else, I disliked the Isomotion controls, which remained a barrier to getting into NBA 2K for years to come. I preferred to make the best of some rough NBA Live releases, rather than acclimate to a different game.

Obviously, I’ve had a change of heart! A handful of NBA 2K titles over the past decade now rank as some of my all-time favourite basketball video games. I’ve also been able to revisit older NBA 2K titles, and really enjoy them. One older 2K release that I’ve grown rather fond of is NBA 2K6 for Xbox 360. It seems only fitting, since I’ve also warmed up to the Xbox 360 version of NBA Live 06 after giving it another look. However, while NBA Live 06 for Xbox 360 may be slightly underrated at times, NBA 2K6 is definitely a stronger all-around game. Let’s take a look back…way back…

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The Friday Five: 5 Console-Only Games We Really Missed on PC

The Friday Five: 5 Console-Only Games We Really Missed on PC

Welcome to another edition of The Friday Five! Every Friday I cover a topic related to basketball gaming, either as a list of five items, or a Top 5 countdown. The topics for these lists and countdowns include everything from fun facts and recollections to commentary and critique. This week’s Five is a list of five console-only basketball games that we really missed having on PC.

Although we’ve come to cover all basketball games across a variety of platforms, we certainly do have a reputation as a PC-oriented site. This goes back to our roots as the NBA Live Series Center, when we were strictly an NBA Live fansite and the home of many tools and mods (then referred to as patches) for the PC releases. Even as we’ve widened our scope, we’ve continued to support and advocate for the PC as a platform. As we’ve previously discussed on the NLSC Podcast, even though PC users are the smallest group of basketball gamers, it’s a passionate and enthusiastic demographic.

There was a time when the PC release of NBA Live was the definitive version, as even the average home computer far outstripped consoles in power and storage capacity. Around the time of the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox, the PC began to receive ports of the console version of NBA Live. Of course, it was one of the few basketball games that were being ported to PC, as there were far more console-only releases than PC exclusives. Putting aside emulation and the Xbox App in recent years, this means that we’ve missed out on having some landmark basketball games on PC. Here are five in particular we would’ve loved to have had on the platform.

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NBA 2K14 Highlights: Bulls vs. Magic

NBA 2K14 Highlights: Bulls vs. Magic

Thanks to a combination of Parsec and the Xbox App, Dee and I have further expanded the range of basketball video games that we can connect on to play.  This past weekend, Dee hosted a session of NBA 2K14 for Xbox One, and put together the highlights for our YouTube channel.

The reel is from a co-op game in which we took on the Orlando Magic with the Chicago Bulls. As you can see, our aim was to emulate the style of play of the 2014 Bulls, and use the players to their real strengths, while obviously having a blast and producing highlights. You’ll see Derrick Rose doing D-Rose things, Joakim Noah contributing everywhere with great energy, and a young Jimmy Butler demonstrating flashes of brilliance. As sim gamers, we pride ourselves in playing a realistic style, and assembling highlight reels that are fun to watch. Check it out!

We discussed our game of NBA 2K14 and our satisfaction with the highlights it produced in this week’s NLSC Podcast, which will be out soon. Stay tuned for that, and in the meantime, be sure to subscribe to the NLSC YouTube channel for more basketball gaming content! As always, feel free to hit us up with suggestions of any games that you’d like to see us play, and we’ll do our best to get them into the rotation.

NBA 2K24 Kobe Screenshots, Release Date, Other Tidbits

NBA 2K24 Kobe Screenshots, Release Date, Other Tidbits

In the wake of the cover reveal, 2K has also released some first look screenshots of Kobe Bryant in NBA 2K24; one of young “Frobe”, and one of prime Mamba from the 2000s. You can check out both screenshots below, as well as in the Screenshots section of our newly-launched NBA 2K24 hub!

As a number of people have noticed, the older Kobe is wearing an NBA Finals patch on his jersey. The NBA 2K Leaks & Intel Twitter account – which has been extremely reliable in recent years – has stated that there will be a Mamba Moments mode in NBA 2K24, which will basically be a Kobe Bryant version of The Jordan Challenge. The NBA Finals patch certainly seems to back that up, and suggests the possibility of at least one new classic team.

The Intel account also mentioned a new Next Gen feature called ProPLAY. This tech will reportedly directly translate NBA footage into gameplay to deliver authentic animations and movement. Combined with their leak of a blurb about MyCAREER in Current Gen/Old Gen, this seems to confirm that the PC version will be identical to the PlayStation 4/Xbox One version once again. The Neighborhood will be returning in that version, along with streamlined quests. Keep in mind that this hasn’t been officially announced, but the account’s track record for accuracy has been exceptional.

There’s also a tidbit about a new salary cap mode in MyTEAM, revamped controls and roster authenticity, and the continued inclusion of WNBA content. The release date is September 8th 2023, as also confirmed by ESPN. The ESPN article also mentions crossplay, though no further details are available at this time.

That’s the NBA 2K24 info that’s currently circulating, along with the first look Kobe screenshots. What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments below, as well as join in the discussion in the new NBA 2K24 section of the Forum! Once again, I’ll be aggregating news throughout the preview season, and Dee and I will be breaking it down with our commentary on the NLSC Podcast.

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NBA Live 15 Highlights: Knicks vs. Clippers

NBA Live 15 Highlights: Knicks vs. Clippers

In case you missed it, a new video has gone up on our YouTube channel! Dee has posted highlights from our game of NBA Live 15, in which he took control of Carmelo Anthony’s New York Knicks, and I used the Lob City Los Angeles Clippers. The game was made possible not only due to Parsec, but also the new beta version of the Xbox app that allows games to be streamed to a Windows PC.

Although NBA Live 15 was a rough release in many respects, we had a good time revisiting it, and were able to produce a number of highlights! From Melo’s scoring outburst during a fourth quarter battle, to Blake Griffin emphatically finishing lobs, there were some genuinely exciting moments. There were also a number of defensive plays that felt satisfying and organic, despite some of the quirks with player movement and animations. Unfortunately NBA Live 15 doesn’t support co-op play, but it turned into a great competitive contest down the stretch. Check out the reel!

We also took a deep dive into NBA Live 15 in Episode #480 of the NLSC Podcast, which you can tune into here. As always, please subscribe to the NLSC YouTube channel for more basketball gaming content! Dee and I are also open to suggestions for games that you’d like to see us play, so feel free to hit us up.

Monday Tip-Off: Three Years Later, No Developments

Monday Tip-Off: Three Years Later, No Developments

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Join me as I begin the week here at the NLSC with my opinions and commentary on basketball gaming topics, as well as tales of the fun I’ve been having on the virtual hardwood. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on the lack of developments regarding NBA Live three years after EA Sports last addressed its future.

That’s right. It’s been three years since the official NBA Live Twitter posted an update on the series. The Tweet confirmed that there would be no NBA Live 20, while also stating that they were “excited by (their) progress”, having been “putting in reps on (their) console basketball games”. At the time, it sounded like they might be changing direction, or at least opting for a longer development cycle, after NBA Live 19 failed to move the needle as hoped. The series’ struggles were cause for scepticism, but the fact that they were addressing the future also invited some degree of optimism.

Three years later, with absolutely no further developments or announcements, it’s much harder to be optimistic. EA Sports’ message to NBA Live gamers three years ago acknowledged the need to get everything right and “earn (their) future”. It was an honest statement, though nothing we hadn’t heard before after previous games failed to live up to expectations. More to the point, there was also an explicit promise to provide regular updates, which obviously didn’t happen. Indeed, the only activity on the NBA Live Twitter since then has been to re-Tweet a tribute to Kobe Bryant from the main EA Sports account. So, three years later, what do we make of this?

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NBA 2K23 Patch 2.0 Out On All Platforms

NBA 2K23 Patch 2.0 Out On All Platforms

Patch 2.0 is out now for NBA 2K23 on all platforms! It should come through automatically as long as you’re online. If it doesn’t, try checking for updates manually, or restarting your console or Steam client.

Notably, Patch 2.0 is the first update for NBA 2K23 to feature any release notes. Previous updates were essentially hotfixes for various issues, with no changes to gameplay. Conversely, the new update addresses some gameplay issues in addition to fixing bugs, as well as adding likeness updates for several NBA, WNBA, and historical players.

You can find the full patch notes below, and I’ve also created pages in our Wiki to log the update history for Current Gen and Next Gen. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below, as well as join in the discussion here in our NBA 2K23 Forum!

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Wayback Wednesday: The Eco-Motion Engine

Wayback Wednesday: The Eco-Motion Engine

This is Wayback Wednesday, your midweek blast from the past! From retrospectives of basketball games and their interesting features, to republished articles and looking at NBA history through the lens of the virtual hardwood, Wednesdays at the NLSC are for going back in time. This week, I’m taking a look back at NBA 2K’s Eco-Motion Engine.

Over the years, we’ve become more aware of – and concerned with – the technology under the hood of video games. The announcement that a game will be running on a specific engine may excite gamers, or disappoint them. Sometimes, we assume too much here. After all, the same engines have powered good games and bad games alike. Time, resources, and design choices that harness the power of the engine, are paramount. In-house solutions can also offer an advantage over widely-used engines such as Unreal, since they’re custom-built for a title or series.

Perhaps the most famous basketball game engine is Eco-Motion. It debuted in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One version of NBA 2K14, facilitating a landmark release in basketball gaming. Many basketball gamers remember it fondly, and are wistful that it was replaced by tech that many say hasn’t felt nearly as good. What was it all about? Let’s take a look back…way back…

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