by Adam Fleischer
I’m a 20-year-old college student that can be found constantly playing sports video games. Depending on the week, sports season, and maybe the amount of work I have to do, they consume a pretty hefty chunk of my time. Over the years, I’ve come to recognize and love this; there’s no shame in my game.
Historically, I’ve been loyal to EA Sports. Whether it’s Madden and NCAA on the football tip, March Madness and Live on the hardwood, or Tiger when I’m in search of a little change of pace, they put-out some great games. Last year, though, I made the switch to 2K Sports when trying to get my NBA fix. The gameplay in NBA 2K8 was fun and fast-paced, the graphics were on-point, and the various game modes provided a nice slate of options.
We all know basketball season is right around and the rookie class is gonna be a fun one to have at your virtual disposal; couple that with new features like Living Rosters that have been added to this year’s installment, and my anticipation for the release of this game should become pretty evident. So, when I found out about attending the launch for the game in New York City, being able to play the game before it dropped, and being around the man who recently brought a championship to my home city, a pretty big smile crossed my face.
Any questions I had about what feel the launch would have were put to rest pretty soon after my arrival. The lights were dim, music was bumping, and TVs with 2K9 for Xbox 360 ranged from wall to wall (there was even one entire wall that was covered by two ridiculously sized screens!). There were no more than twenty or so people at first, so I hopped on one of the consoles to feed my longstanding hunger to get my chance with the new version. Kevin Garnett and other unnamed celebrities were supposedly on their way, but when I got there only Andre Iguodala was in the house–posted up on the TV next to mine taking, on someone who seemed to be one of his boys.
My opponent picked the Cavs and LeBron, so I decided to counter with DWade and Miami. The graphics, predictably yet incredibly, were even elevated from the past, while the game itself still played like the winner that it is. LeBron, who can sometimes be frustratingly (although realistically) unstoppable in video games, was somewhat contained. As for the Heat, Wade was understandably shifty and explosive and Beasley was a treat to have on the inside, while Marion’s awkward release sometimes created difficulties when shooting from the outside (Kevin Martin always got me in 2K8).
In terms of the new features, the Signature Moves was a welcomed addition, allowing guys to act and move even more closely to their tendencies in real life. Another, more hyped extra, is called Living Rosters. At one point, Erick Boenisch, the Lead Feature Designer for NBA 2K9, got in front of the crowd and explained the concept, which is geared at making the virtual reality be as close to reality as possible. Throughout the season, players’ ratings and attributes in the game will be adjusted according to how they’re actually playing, making your team on screen as similar to your real squad as can be. For obvious reasons, I didn’t really get to experience this, but it certainly sounds awesome in theory.
By the time that we were introduced to Living Rosters, the house was packed. As I was enjoying the open bar and tasty as hell hors devours, athlete after athlete was walking in: KG and teammate Rajon Rondo (when they battled, Rondo as the Celts took down a KG-led Laker team in OT), Iguodala, Brook Lopez, a handful of Knicks including Danilo Gallinari, Nate Robinson, QRich, Patrick Ewing, Jr. (no Marbury, though), as well as Olympic Gold Medalist Usain Bolt and Stuart Scott of SportsCenter fame. The celebs were mostly sectioned off to the side with privacy, couches, countless reporters vying to get a word, and some friends.
If the one game under my belt and a night of launch festivities are any indication, NBA 2K9 just may surpass expectations. You’ll be able to find me at Best Buy on Oct. 7.
You can check a review of NBA Live 09 and its launch party here.