Graev Buys a Sports Game: A Cautionary Tale

I know this must come as a shock to some people, but Keen and I aren’t really sports fans. At all. Well actually I take that back; we do enjoy baseball or perhaps the idea of baseball. I couldn’t tell you the last time either of us actually watched a game. So as you can imagine we usually steer clear of sports video games. The last one we actually bought and played was Madden 2000 back on the PS2 at launch.  Even then I remember both of us thinking that this was not nearly as good as NFL Blitz. I must not have learned my lesson because years later I broke down and repeated the same mistake.

I picked up a copy of NBA 2k14 because I kept hearing people rave about how good it was and how awesome it looked. At the time I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about basketball since I knew next to nothing about it. My only prior experience with the sport must have been in 6th grade. I was the fat kid who just stood under the hoop on our side of the court while everybody else ran around. Just in case you were curious. Still, I thought that I might like it so I gave it a try. I actually hadn’t been playing for very long at all before I experience a GOB moment.

ive made a huge mistake

When you know next to nothing about a sport it’s probably a bad idea to jump in and try playing it, even virtually. I had no idea what to do other than to try and put the ball in the basket. In my first game I kept fouling people and losing the ball and just generally screwing up. I think they must have had 80 points or something on me before halftime.  I quit out to try and find some kind of tutorial. The game does teach you how to handle the ball, shoot, etc. You use the stick to perform various moves and handling tricks. It’s all very confusing and easily the hardest controls I’ve ever experienced in my life.

After I ran through the tutorials several times, and came out remembering nothing, I hit the internet to learn more about the difference between a point guard, shooting guard, and everything else that made no sense to me. I dropped by a forum for the game and inquired about some basketball knowledge. Surprisingly the people there were more than helpful, but some of the things they told me were truly terrifying. For example, not every player is the same! That actually sounds really stupid when I say it like that but I mean that every single point guard or whatever is unique and has unique skills. This may be obvious in real life but I had no idea that it would be like this in a video game. Apparently some players are better at performing various basketball-related tasks than others and against different sized players, etc. The truly horrifying part is when you realize that there are like 30 teams with 15 or something players or more. You essentially have to have intimate knowledge of EVERYBODY to even begin understanding this game. That’s like trying to learn a new generation of pokemon except they are all the same type but have unique strengths and weaknesses against each other. Oh, and they are all just Pikachus with different names and faces. Good luck with that.

So I realized that this was all much more than my simple mind could put up with. I should mention that there is probably nothing wrong with NBA 2k14 and that it does indeed look REALLY good. It just turns out that the game is really not for me. Probably not for anybody who doesn’t already know a lot about Basketball and who hasn’t played any of the previous entries since they just toss you in the deep end. If there is one thing you should take away from my story it’s this:

DO NOT EVER try any new experiences and NEVER try to broaden your horizons.

  • Don’t worry Graev!

    Even as a huge sports fan (albeit only Baseball and College football) I can safely tell you that it was not you and that it was basketballs fault. Basketball is a dreadful game who no one truly enjoys.

    Much like fruit cake, many people lie and say they like fruit cake. But no one likes fruit cake.

    Basketball is the fruit cake of sports.

  • Try my player mode, you only have to worry about the player you create. I recommend a point guard as you will have more time with the ball.

  • Go for a baseball game next time. In my experience, baseball video games are heavier on the strategy, lighter on the reflex-testing, and generally more enjoyable than other sports games. Football games–particularly the NCAA ones–are a close-ish second.

  • Basketball and football are my two favorite sports both to play growing up and watch now, but I can’t get into either as a video game. I bought NBA 2K13 on a similar whim and tried my best to like it, but it just wasn’t fun.

  • In regards to all the playable characters in the game having different stats, I am reminded of a rant from some offensive lineman, Ethan Albright. His stats in the game basically made him out to be the absolute in the game. And in a game I suppose that somebody has to objectively be the worst, but his rant about it was rather funny, I cry laughing whenever I happen across it. I’ll include the link for your entertainment.

  • I would reccommend tweaking the gameplay sliders. You can turn the game into a very casual experience if you want. That’s what I did, I used the preset ‘casual’ after a few games of me owning the other teams with my own custom settings. You can turn the game into NBA Jams damn near if you want, ok maybe not that crazy but you can increase shot % and the ability to dunk or block/steal, basically tune it to be as overpowered as you want to be. Also create a few custom players and switch them onto the roster of the team you want for an added boost. A couple 99 skill players will help you get some wins. Switch off injuries and stamina and just play your starters the whole game, less people to remember. Once you start getting a feel for it you can even adjust the settings mid game and dial it back down some if you aren’t getting a challenge. For me that was a big part of finally enjoying the game, finding the settings sweet spot to give me a challenge but not frustrate me. Hope this helps.

  • FYI, Graev made me take the game to Best Buy and trade it in. They verified with me 5 times, “You know this game is brand new, right?” To which I replied, “Yes. We decided we don’t like Basketball.”

  • @Whorhay:

    Thanks for the big belly laugh!

    Excerpted from the reply email “Re: Being the worst rated player on Madden 07”:

    “It’s also pretty wonderful that my awareness rating was 59. You make it sound like I wake up in the morning, helplessly shit and piss myself, then lose three of my teeth before I discover that I am trying to eat a rock for breakfast. Fuck, John, I understand you saying that I am slow and lacking athleticism, but a rating like this pretty much labels me as retarded.”

    “If I take a night school class, could you bump me up to a 60?”

    “My agility rating on your game is 33. It makes it sound like I just topple over if I start walking too fast. Ted Washington is rated a 40 in agility. He is listed at 365 pounds. If Ted Washington tied a white lady up and made her wear a metal bikini, he’d look just like Jabba the Hut.”

    “I also noticed that my kick return rating was a 0. I was rated a fucking zero? So you feel that I shouldn’t even receive a 10, or even a 5? You are pretty much saying that I couldn’t even fall forward on a ball kicked in my direction. I would just stand there and let the ball bounce off of my fucking face. Fuck that, John, I returned an onside kick 6 yards in 2002. You should have just slapped a – 4 on me and had the EA staff ambush me with paintball guns.”

    Oh, I am still laughing as I post this…