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 some of the cheesiest moves that you’ll encounter in basketball video games.
We all want to see basketball games continue to get better, and eliminate cheesy moves and tactics as much as possible. Well, most of us do, at any rate. Judging by some of the 2K Pro-Am games that I’ve played in NBA 2K16 and NBA 2K17, a few gamers probably wouldn’t be happy if a few of the exploits and loopholes were taken care of! Nevertheless, I feel confident in saying it’s what a majority of basketball gamers want to see, and that it ultimately remains a goal of the development teams at both EA Sports and Visual Concepts. If you look back at basketball video games through the years, you can see improvement in that regard.
No game is going to be perfect though, and completely eliminating cheese is easier said than done. Gamers are always going to seek out the most effective tactics, and while these days that usually does mean playing smart basketball, there are still exploits to be found here and there. Throughout all the generations of basketball video games, there have been unstoppable moves and cheap tactics that gamers have discovered and exploited for easier wins. For this week’s Friday Five, I’ve compiled a list of what I feel are five of the most infamous gameplay exploits; indeed, the cheesiest moves you’ll come across in basketball video games.
1. Corner Three in Double Dribble
I mentioned this in my retrospective of Double Dribble, but long before that, it had been pointed out by sw1tched on YouTube, with the footage infamously appearing in an episode of Family Guy. As sw1tched’s video demonstrates, corner threes are practically a sure thing in Double Dribble, once you perfect the timing on the release. There are other high percentage hot spots, but the corner three is probably the best known of all the cheesy moves in the game. It is quite easy to step out of bounds when running to the corner however, so while the reward is great if you can pull off a well-timed release possession after possession, there is an element of risk.
It should be noted that while moves like this seem very cheap and cheesy now, they weren’t uncommon in early sports games. Without the variables of player ratings and tendencies, as well as more sophisticated AI, developing a winning strategy was more about learning which moves were unstoppable, as well as how and where you could reliably score from nine times out of ten (if not every time). Cheesy moves and strategies are obviously still around, but our expectations have changed as technology has improved, so we’re now more likely to call them out. As such, it’s an outdated approach to game design, but back then, that’s how the game was played.
2. Outside Scorer Layups in NBA Live 06
Freestyle Superstars is a concept I’ve covered before, and I’ll be talking about it again in some upcoming Wayback Wednesday and 20th Anniversary of NBA Live features as well. For those who are unfamiliar with it, Freestyle Superstars – FSS for short – granted special moves to players with high enough ratings. It was an early attempt to add signature abilities to the game, as well as make star players stand out from the pack, and for that, it deserves some credit. The idea had merit, but it ultimately added moves that were overpowered. I wouldn’t call it a full-blown arcade mechanic, but in retrospect, the results weren’t quite a sim as we would’ve liked.
The most powerful moveset belonged to Outside Scorers, although ironically, it was their interior moves that did the most damage. In terms of being an archetype, the Outside Scorer was more along the lines of a slasher with range. Therefore, the moveset included an array of elusive layups that were basically guaranteed buckets. Even if a player only just qualified for the Outside Scorer moveset, they could get to the hoop and finish with an acrobatic layup with relative ease. While it may have lacked realism and balance, it was very helpful when you desperately needed to score…and a good barometer for how much the comeback logic was cheating.
3. Acrobat Threes in NBA 2K13
Signatures Skills and Badges in NBA 2K have succeeded where Freestyle Superstars came up short in NBA Live. They aptly differentiate players by giving them certain boosts and abilities, according to their real life skills and playing style. Their effects can be unbalanced though, and gamers have found ways to exploit them. The most prominent example is probably the Acrobat Signature Skill in NBA 2K13. Although the Skill was intended to improve a player’s chances of making an adjusted shot in the paint, it was discovered that when it was used in conjunction with a Euro Step, it allowed players to knock down perimeter shots at will.
Needless to say, this became a common tactic of many online gamers who wanted to score consistently and without much effort. You can find quite a few videos on YouTube discussing the issue, as people were obviously annoyed at having to deal with such a cheesy exploit. In terms of the single player experience, it was handy to have such an effective weapon to employ against the CPU, but it was dirty pool as far as online play was concerned. One of the official roster updates did remove the Acrobat Signature Skill from players who had it equipped, but the mechanic itself remained in the game, and thus could still be utilised by a custom roster.
4. Spin Moves in Several Basketball Games
One of the most satisfying improvements to dribbling moves in basketball games has been the ability to break the ankles of a defender. We’ve gone from pressing a button that (sometimes) selects a contextually appropriate dribbling animation in order to (hopefully) blow by a defender – which would occur due to primitive physics and collision detection as much as anything else – to being able to chain together an array of moves that leave defenders stumbling and crumbling to the floor. In between that, we had another very effective, and very cheesy, technique that allowed us to elude defenders and get to the rim for a dunk or layup: spamming spin moves.
With the ground that they can cover and the way that they can throw a defender off balance with a quick change of direction, spin moves are obviously effective manoeuvres. However, no matter how fast an NBA player is, or how talented they are when it comes to handling the basketball, it’s highly unlikely that they could start spinning at halfcourt and make it all the way to the rim unimpeded. In more than a couple of video games, however, that’s been a viable tactic. Even when those games have offered other effective dribbling moves, leaving defenders in the dust almost always came down to spin, spin, spin, no matter what, what, what.
5. Taking Charges in NBA 2K17
We started this list with a very old basketball game, so let’s finish it with one of the newest. Again, no release is ever going to be perfect, and NBA 2K17 does have its issues, but it also showcases the benefits of having decades of experience developing basketball video games. For the most part, gameplay is now about solid basketball strategy, but there are still some cheesy moves that can be exploited. While a lot of gamers may focus on cheese at the offensive end, I’ve found that when it comes to NBA 2K17, and in particular 2K Pro-Am, it’s a defensive tactic that’s the most problematic. Charging calls can be incredibly cheap, and a lot of gamers know it.
Even though NBA 2K17 has received numerous official patches and tuning updates, this particular issue has remained unresolved. The ratio of blocking to charging calls is far too generous towards defenders, leading to some very cheap offensive fouls. It’s more noticeable in modes where the gameplay sliders can’t be adjusted, such as MyCAREER and 2K Pro-Am. It’s bad enough when the CPU gets away with it, but a lot of online players will try to draw charges while you’re still in the backcourt. It often happens without the defender even trying to draw a charge, so when you do actively try to milk the call, it becomes an extremely cheesy tactic on D.
Those are five cheesy moves that immediately came to mind for me, but the list definitely doesn’t end there. What are some of the cheesiest moves that you’ve used, or had someone use against you, in basketball video games? Have your say in the comments section below, and as always, feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum! That’s all for this week, so thanks for checking in, have a great weekend, and please join me again next Friday for another Five.