Let’s take a look back into one of my favorite video game features within the past few years. It was when I first bought my Play Station 4, the first game I ever had on the console was NBA 2k15. I originally bought the game as a friend in my college class hyped me up to the career mode. He had a really good created MyPlayer and said that game mode was really fun once you got up to a 90 overall. I got into that mode a bit, however, for me, I prefer to simulate games rather than doing the same thing over and over. I preferred to not play through a season with a MyPlayer. I’d rather simulate through the season and play 4-5 games to avoid repetitiveness. However, when you are starting MyPlayer, you must play a lot. Eventually, I got into the routine of taking a shot every time I touched the ball as I believe I got up to around a 90 overall. I was scoring 30-40 every time I played, but it was boring. Each game felt the same, and each game I was getting tired of my teammates. I found myself sneaking off to play Dynasty mode too often.
I still had that urge to play though. There’s a reason we get video games, to feel like the players we watch on TV. Oh, I see James Harden dropping 50, I bet I could do that in a game if I had his athleticism. So I’m going to on my video game console. I found this urge-to-play desire satisfied with a little known featured titled “NBA Blacktop.”
This game is found in quick-start mode and can be chosen 1v1, 2v2, all the way up to 5v5. Up until 3v3, you play half court “streetball” games to 21. When it’s 4v4 and 5v5, you play up to 21, same “streetball” rules, but it’s a full court game. Picking teams is a shit show. You can really pick anyone from any team. You can even go into historical teams or (bringing this article full circle), your MyPlayer. Once each team has 5 players chosen, the game organizes the players by height into their respective positions. For example, a tall point guard will most likely be slotted into shooting guard as long as he’s taller than another player. The game has some recognition with some players, as Kevin Durant won’t automatically be put at center just because he’s 7 feet tall.
Have I made the game sound boring enough? I haven’t? Amazing. This game was much better than playing an actual game for a few reasons. 1) Freedom to pick your own team. You get to pair up whoever you want and see how they’d fit together. My brother and I always did random things like picking only Big 10 alumni. Or, the players are organized on the team by rating so we would choose someone who’s the best, second best and all the way up until 5th best on their respective teams. 2) Players were oddly more skilled on the blacktop. Someone who was a 30% 3-point shooter on the actual court, may be up to a 40% during the blacktop game. Players had more skills which led to unlikely heroes. (I’ll get to that in my all-NBA 2k15 Blacktop team article). This led to an interesting twist – watch out Andrew Bogut is knocking down 15 feet shot regularly. Players also caught on fire easier in the game. 3) The games felt more authentic. It goes for the same way that playing backyard streetball with your buddies can be more fun than playing an actual game in a rec league. You’re no longer relying on refs and subs and coaches plays, you’re going out there and trying to win, nothing else. 4) The games were quicker, but you didn’t feel like you were getting shorted on gameplay capabilities. Playing to 21 points felt like an adequate number. The equivalent in an actual game may be playing 3 minute quarters. But then you run into timeouts, players getting tired and even fouls that put you at the free throw line.
There’s a reason for every game mode, and blacktop doesn’t solve all of my playing NBA 2k needs. However, it was a huge part of my 2k gaming experience. My brother and I could play sometimes up to 10 games in a row. I remember games where we wouldn’t be able to choose any of the top 5 players on any team, yet the skill level would still be there. Blacktop did what it needed to do, provided very simple gameplay. I hope when you turn on your console next and go to play 2k, you think of what was when NBA 2k15 released NBA blacktop for the first time.