I really do find the way that NBA 2K has started doing the demos for their game interesting. The Prelude is an introduction to the MyCareer mode on the upcoming game NBA 2K18. It allows you to create your player and also get a taster of the storyline that he will follow throughout the game. This year’s iteration is known as ‘DJ’. Two years ago we had ‘Frequency Vibrations’ or ‘Freq’ and last year we had ‘The President of Basketball’, known to his friends simply as ‘Pres’. So 2K are clearly sticking it out with the cheesy nicknames for your player.
DJ is a former DJ (crazy right?) who gave up basketball for a while to do music and has now decided that he wants to be in the NBA and dedicate his whole life to basketball. He lives in a huge apartment with its own basketball court, so clearly he must have been a rather successful DJ, with a dreadfully annoying roommate whose name I can’t remember because I spent all of the cutscenes trying to blank her out. So, we pick up the prelude at The Proving Grounds where undrafted talent come to try and get seen by an agent or scout.
It all seemed pretty cool at first. You get to pick two archetypes, a primary and a secondary, compared to last year where you only got one. I wasn’t a fan of having my stats capped at what 2K believed was a suitable level for my position, archetype and heightm and fully believe that if we want to create a 7’4 center with a 99 contested three and 99 speed then that should be our prerogative. So I’m definitely a fan of dual archetypes; I went with a shot creating and passing and ball handling shooting guard. The Shot Creating archetype seems to be one of the best this year and can be even better when combined with some of the other archetypes. The badges were decent and I had a mid-range, three point shot, layups, dunks, and handles so I thought why not. I’ve generally always shied away from point guards because I like to get rebounds hence why I chose a 6’6 shooting guard. I’m hoping to be a triple-double machine/the new Kobe Bryant later on in my career. You then get to choose a jump shot and then straight into your first game.
At this point saying anything about the gameplay is quite difficult as you can’t upgrade any of your players stats in the prelude so you’re simply running around with what I assume is a somewhere in the 60s overall player. 2K have done away with timing layups and have introduced a new shot feedback system where the game tells you how good, or bad, the shots you are taking are. The dribbling feels okay and the passing might be better but I’m not sure yet. The movement definitely feels smoother. Other than that, there’s not much to say on the gameplay front until I’ve had more than a couple of pick up games and a few scrimmages with a rubbish player. The AI sucked but I assume that’s because they are bad players as well.
After your first game you get a card from an Agent. After the second game (which I lost) you get picked for the final game. I’m not sure if you can lose both games and still get picked but at this point I have a funny feeling that it doesn’t matter what you do in any of these games. After the final game, a scout bumps into you and whether you lie to him about having an agent or not you end up with a tryout for an NBA team. Just like that. At this point I was scratching my head a little bit.
Last year’s Prelude consisted of a handful of big college games where your draft stock increased or decreased depending on how well you played and it ended in you becoming a ‘one and done’ player who gets drafted into the NBA. This year there’s none of that. You simply pick your ‘favourite’ team at the start and that is the team that happens to have a scout at the proving grounds.
So you can be on any team you want. You can pick the Golden State Warriors and make yourself a 7’0 stretch five, which by the way seems OP as hell, and create the most insane team we have ever seen. You could also go ahead and create a player who would become the third superstar on some of the ‘nearly there’ teams like the Rockets or the Thunder. Which at first I thought was pretty cool, but then it got me thinking. Is there even a point to this prelude? It seems like whatever you do you end up at your NBA team of choice.
After you go to the workout at your team -mine was the Memphis Grizzlies because I like bears- you take part in two scrimmages against the reserves and against the first team. I played okay in these, putting up 9 and 8 points respectively with 3 assists and 3 rebounds in each game. I got a couple of steals and fouls in both with a turnover apiece. I didn’t exactly blow anyone away and I missed a bunch of layups. However, the assistant coach was impressed and later that day I got a call from my agent, and a scene that made me wonder if 2K has ever actually seen real human interaction, and just like that you are an NBA player. Then it ends.
There isn’t exactly much substance. And the main selling point of 2K18, in fact the very thing that they are claiming will make this year’s game a whole new ball game (ha), wasn’t even in the prelude. You don’t get any chance at all to even wander around the Neighbourhood and feel out how this new open world variable was going to work. 2K hit us with the hype and then kind of left us wanting a whole lot more at the end.
You also don’t really get any background into ‘DJ’ and who he is, barring a few tidbits from some interactions with other characters. I feel like it wouldn’t have been a hard thing for them to give us a cut scene at the beginning explaining a bit about him and how he has arrived at the proving grounds. Instead you get this cool intro/title scene where you walk through the neighbourhood with some headphones on looking awesome on the surface but there’s nothing to be found underneath. And I think that nicely sums up how I felt about The Prelude this year. It looked great and I’ve heard plenty of good things about what’s coming to 2K18, but this demo had nothing deeper than shallow water and you spend about 2 or 3 hours -I’m not actually sure how long it took me- paddling around and ending up at a shore which isn’t white sand but rocks and pebbles. Does that make sense? Does it even matter? Because neither does this prelude.
However, I’d like to state on record, right here, right now, that this by no means reflects on 2K18 the full game. I still think the game is going to be good this year and at the very least I’m still going to enjoy playing basketball with DJ as well as the MyTeam and MyGM modes and all that other good stuff. I just wish that at the very least 2K had let us sample The Neighbourhood. As, after all, that is what appears to be their main selling point this year.
NBA 2K18 is out on September 19th.
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