Thunderbolt logo

Playing NBA 2K16 For The Story

Over the years I’ve come to understand my preferred selection of genres. I play the games where I shoot bad guys with bullets, preferably in slow motion. Platform games are great, Mario games even better. Is there a fun story? Grand. Is there a well written story that’ll draw me in, get me to want to play through the game just to find out what happens? That is the best.

I’ve tried alternate genres and over time I’ve found myself blacklisting certain types of games from my field of interest. These things no longer ping on my radar. If a game describes itself as a ‘procedurally generated rogue-like’ – I’ve lost interest. I don’t do sports or racing games because I watch neither. I poke at fighting games, but never play much of them. I’ve dabbled in strategy, but it’s a genre I seldom look at, let alone actually play.

Fast forward to a friend of mine telling me that NBA 2K16 will feature a single player mode written and directed by Spike Lee.

Suddenly I’m talking about a sports game. Not just any sports game, a basketball game at that. The last basketball game I’ve played was NBA Jam. The only one I’ve ever been good at was Bulls Versus Blazers And The NBA Playoffs for the Genesis. It’s been a long time since I’d even looked at this sort of thing that this strange piece of news came and went with me none the wiser.

There are a lot of questions about this. Will it actually be entertaining? Will the story be interesting enough to keep my attention, even if I’m not entirely interested in the core experience? It’s Spike Lee. I’ve only seen a few of his films, but they were all great. He’s even written and directed a basketball movie. And then there’s the protagonist, a Mr. Frequency Vibrations. That name is ridiculous, but considering Jesus Shuttleworth of He Got Game, it’s not too far off from Spike’s writing style.

How will the game actually play? Am I going to be playing full games, or will it be more like in MLB The Show and I’ll only be participating for a couple shots per game? Or will it instead just have me Telltale my way through the sport?

No matter what, if the story is good enough I’m fine playing a game I usually wouldn’t. There is precedent here. I don’t play fighting games, but I was excited to play Mortal Kombat X because the story looked like it would be cool. I don’t play snowboarding games, but the story of Amped 3 is so ridiculous I needed to play through it.

There’s very little news past the announcement. There’s a live action trailer where Spike Lee describes the basketball experience. The career mode of NBA 2K16 lives entirely on buzz and promise, but what was revealed alone makes it strangely interesting. And while this hasn’t been the first sports game to come with a unique story mode to play through, it will definitely be one of the few to be published with a celebrity involved creatively.

All this said, the videogame industry is no stranger to releases that are built upon the people that form their foundations. Daikatana is probably the single greatest example of a terrible game that was supposed to be great because of the legend involved with its creation. These days we require a little more than names dropped on the table. Even Kickstarter requires proof of concept in the interest of a successful campaign.

And it is here that 2K sports seems to be dropping the ball. After browsing about the internet, the there’s little more than the live action trailer of Spike Lee. 2K’s own web site doesn’t even have screen shots, rather they just have the trailer. The worst part about that is the game is expected to come out September 25th, which is not much time at all.

Do they plan on a last minute marketing campaign to pull through and slam it in right before the buzzer? Or are they putting a glossy finish on their secret garbage pile? The ball’s in their court for now.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2011.

Gentle persuasion

You should check out our podcast.