DAR Gaming Roundtable: The NBA 2K Series

Once upon a time, the most popular NBA series was NBA Live. It wasn't even close. NBA Live was pretty much the cornerstone of video gaming for basketball, but there were some other choices. One of these other choices, the NBA 2K Series, would seemingly begin to overtake the Live series, as EA Sports got lazier with their games and 2K became much more inventive and put forth what became known as greatness. Today, we gathered everybody up to discuss this series and the impact it holds.

I only started playing 2K in 2010 with 2K10. Before that, I had only played Live 08 on PC because I didn't have a console and basketball video games were hard to come by in South Africa. 2K12 was the first edition I really enjoyed, and it had a great soundtrack featuring Aceyalone and Freddie Gibbs among others. I think that 2K's soundtracks are always good and this is something 2K always gets right. 2K's biggest selling point to me has to be MyCareer, and while I've never actually gotten to that 38,388th point, each year the game mode keeps you interested, at least until the next game is released. I don't have too much of an interest in the other modes besides online and Blacktop mode, however. 2K is of course seen generally as THE basketball video game series to play, and I share this view. While I struggle each year to actually get a copy of the new game, it's always worth the effort. They REALLY need to improve how the dunk contest works though, but I love this series.

2K. One of the most historic sports video games franchises ever. The game has definitely grown and developed into the best sports video game there is.

MyCareer, which started off as MyPlayer, has became a fan favorite mode of the 2K franchise. It's a mode where you get to create your own player and make history with the team you're drafted by or whatever team you get traded to, etc. It came along in 2K10, and it instantly became my favorite mode to play without a doubt. The game play was a lot of fun and I enjoyed doing the draft combine. 2K11 is my favorite 2K of all time, 2K5 following. NBA 2K15 MyCareer might have been the most enjoyable due to the story it came with. However, even though I love it, 2K16 wasn't as enjoyable. Spike Lee decided to create a short film and kind of screwed up my rookie season, as we can only play 8 games and there's your rookie season. Too many dramatic scenes, not enough playing, not enough high school/college games, it was a mess. I hope it never happens again.

The online game play is fun and addictive, especially if you're good. Beating teams like the Cavaliers, Warriors, etc with teams like the Bucks, Knicks, etc makes you feel good because I know I'm not the only one that hates it when people choose those teams, like how in Madden everyone chooses either the Seahawks or Patriots, while I play with scrubs like the Raiders or Titans. Anyways, I like how 2K16 added a ranking system where you start from I believe high school JV (can't really remember) and work your way up towards College, NBA, and the #1 class tier, GREATEST OF ALL TIME. Historic teams are also added, such as the '99'-'00 Raptors, 96' Bulls, etc.

Overall, 2K has seen some very legendary games and some very sorry games. 2K10, 2K11, and 2K5 are all great 2K's IMO. I hated the earlier 2K games, as at the time I was an NBA Live dude, since it was better. It's sad NBA live is trash now.

My favorites were
NBA 2K11
NBA 2K12
NBA 2K13

The game was always a staple for me as far as sports games. We were in middle school when 2k started and even then on Dreamcast, the graphics were ahead of its time. And what better athlete to grace the cover than Allen Iverson? He was the biggest star in the league then and he embodied the rebel of the modern athlete. The funny thing was it just looked more real than Live and the first live I got was NBA Live 96 on Genesis. I was a fan then, but that's because EA was very dominant. But the realism and game play stood out then and got better each year.

As I mentioned in my Dreamcast review, the 2K series was, to be honest, the only competition to the EA franchises that meant something outside of being able to Rock Bottom your opponent (hi NFL Blitz). Graphically, it matched EA and gameplay-wise, it was right there. Somewhere in the mid-2000s, the NBA 2K franchise began to pull away from its competition. Ironically, it seemed this happened just as 2K Sports lost their ESPN license.

NBA 2K6 was, for me, the tipping point in the battle between 2K and EA's NBA Live series. For starters, 2K6 felts more like a real basketball game, with its cutaways, crowd shots--hell, they even showed people buying concessions. Honestly, I'd take that over charging people for their concessions (seriously, EA. Update the franchise modes in your games aside from just adding the ability to play as a legendary coach/player). Gameplay-wise, 2K, again, felt more like a real game versus just "hey, let's score a million points and break records in one game." The simulation aspect was, thankfully, balanced out by the fact that it was still fun to play.

Oh, and there was this little thing called "playability." 2K6 didn't just screw around and glitch out every time I tried to play it seriously. The engine was just great to use and easy to play with. In fact, the 2K6 engine was so impressive that, in some ways, I feel they've pulled an EA and have just fine-tuned the living crap out of the game engine for years after its release. However, as seen in 2K16, they actually took what made the game great and evolved it for the next gen. I can't say the same about its competition.

Meanwhile Live, all it had was graphics, music (EA was usually on top of their music game), and an ESPN-like presentation which felt a lot more stilted than the 2K presentation. While 2K focused on evolving and fine-tuning its gameplay, Live was left in the dust--even if its graphics were, sometimes, miles better than 2K's. But, I'd take a game that's fun and actually playable over something that just looks pretty. It's like sex versus getting a air lapdance. You want to touch and play around with what's being presented, not just look at it.

...ok, that analogy didn't work so well, but 2K reigns supreme.

I was admittedly a fan of NBA Live to the core. I would play NBA Live 98 religiously when it dropped and for years after that. However, I remember seeing 2K on Dreamcast and deciding to check it out. My two favorite players after Jordan retired were always Kobe and Iverson, so it was definitely easy to draw me in with A.I. on the cover. I remember enjoying playing 2K, but still being slightly partial to Live. I remember when NBA 2K5 came out, I was excited to play it, much in the same way I was excited for NFL 2K5. It was the turning point for me, as Live began to get boring and repetitive, and while graphics were good, 2K was starting to improve in that category over Live.

When I first played NBA 2K6, if I'm not mistaken, 2K was always a bit cheaper than Live to purchase. That was a big deal for me at the time and I was truly impressed by 2K6. The realism was off the charts, and the game was top notch all around. While I was a bit disappointed with 2K7 and 2K8, 2K9 was the one that truly solidified the game of choice for me regarding the NBA. 2K9 was amazing, though I'll be honest, it definitely had a few glitches here and there, as did 2K10, but it was worth it. I would be on 2K10 for hours at a time, and the fact that the cover featured Kobe was a selling point definitely.

When 2K11 arrived however, I don't think I have ever been more excited for a game in history. This isn't even a joke. I'm dead serious. When I saw Jordan as the cover athlete and that he had his own mode, I was completely sold on it and went right to Gamestop to pick it up the day it came out. I still enjoy playing that game to this very day honestly. It is the greatest NBA game to me hands down. One of the greatest sports games ever period. 2K12 was fun, as was 2K13, and it seems every year 2K manages to deliver. 2K16 is a bit different, as it delivers overall as a gaming experience, but the Spike Lee story and enlisting Khaled and the other guys to handle music was a bit misguided. I think they just got too out of the box, but 2K17 should be able to right those wrongs as 2K tends to listen to their fans when creating the game usually.

After taking the no. 1 spot from Live and holding the crown for so many years, all that 2K needs to do is remain consistent and keep killing the game with classics. Do you have an opinion on the 2K series? Post it here in the comments section below.



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