Now that the 08-09 versions of NBA Live, NBA 09, and NBA 2k are out, many gamers are wondering which game gives a more authentic and realistic experience. Most gamers have usually given NBA 2k the realism crown with NBA Live in second, and NBA 09 picking up the rear. Still, isn’t realism a personal opinion as compared to an actual fact? What’s more, what is video game reality?
What is realism in terms of a basketball videogame? Is realism being able to play as an entire team, in the style of that team, as seen on television a week before? Is realism playing as one player the entire game, and doing only what you, as a single player, could do?
To many hard-core basketball gamers realism is having your team play offensive and defensive basketball schemes the way he or she may have seen them run on television. These same hard-core basketball gamers like to use the press box or television visual presentation style. This camera option gives them the same view that they would have from the stands or from a television set. These same hard-core gamers will play as the entire team; mimicking the actions that they have seen over the course of a basketball season, but not mimicking the actions that the actual NBA players, themselves, may have seen or had.
Is this realism?
In my estimation, no. Neither of these gamer tendencies are realistic in any sense of the word. Basketball, in reality, is played by individuals that come together to form a team. For example, in reality, when I have the basketball in my possession, I am able to pass, shoot , or dribble. There are a few other actions that I may have at my disposal, but for this purpose we will just worry about the basic three.
My vision of the basketball court is limited to a three dimensional perspective that is very similar to the behind the back view of a traditional basketball video game. Now, in reality I cannot see my entire body as I play , but this view is the closest that we have to really being inside a basketball game as a player. Also, this perspective covers the visual aesthetic, and it mimics the actual playing visual that a normal person would have.
Game play wise:
In reality, I can only do for myself. I cannot tap my elbow and make the center on my team set me a pick. I cannot press my navel and make my point guard shoot the basketbball. You see, in our reality, we can only control ourselves. We can only do what we do. We can only control what we control. We can try to influence others through words or gestures, but we do not have a direct control over them or their actions. Which is why player lock is a must.
Player lock is when you, the gamer, control only one player. For years I have lobbied for player lock to be given more emphasis during game play. This year NBA Live 09 has a new mode called “Be a player.” This mode allows you to lock onto one player for the duration of the game. You are graded by your ability to play your position and do the things that an individual player would do in a real basketball game.
Still, the question remains: Is this reality? If so, why have players and gaming companies been so slow to react? Why is it that while popular with many hardcore gamers, this mode has been absent from many recent releases, including NBA 09 for PS3, PS2, and PSP?
If not, what is reality? What is realism?