The 2K Fix

 

With a release date over 4 months ago, roster updates to portray the rise of Giannis into a superstar, multiple patches to adjust playbooks, and address some of the bugs, NBA 2K17 has morphed into post All Star Break form. As has been the case for several years, a one game marketplace has supplied hoop junkies and general gamers with an excellent basketball simulation. However, lacking a true basketball competitor, the case can be made that certain aspects of 2K’s gameplay and graphics have slipped into the “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it” category.

The primary focus of the game has to appease the crowds playing the most popular modes: almost undoubtedly myPark and myTeam. Admittedly, I reject these modes in favor of offline myLeague, Playoffs and NBA Today. While I’ve played 2K faithfully for nearly a decade, and I have enjoyed plenty of new features (the rotation timeline, expanded and more detailed league and GM modes, Playoffs mode, a better in-game roster editing interface, and updated shoe colorways to name a few), the component that really makes me obsess over the game is having the ability to fix the things I don’t like about it.

One of the features promoted by 2K leading up to the ‘17 release was the implementation of diverse body types. For instance, Kevin Durant, the poster boy of unusual game-breaking bodies, has a much skinnier, lanky body than prior years replications. Problem is he is too skinny (and his neck is too long). Fortunately for computer players, they don’t have to play with Giraffe Durant, or Hulk Hogan CP3.

It will be a mainstay of Virtual Dimes features, but to perform an introduction to the site, 2K Mods are an essential enhancement of the game. From jerseys to courts, faces, bodies and hair, sounds to scoreboards.. most game files can be manipulated to create more desired replacements. If it isn’t blatant examples (I’ve given up hope that 2K’s visual team can properly see the blue color of the Knicks Away Jersey), there are loads of details (court sponsorships, tattoos, size and locations of jersey numbers and names) that don’t make it into the game either due to copyright issues (Melo’s Warner Bros. tattoo) or negligence (it’s a 60+ GB game). They may not matter, or even be noticeable to most passing players, but to junkies they stick out like Andrew Bynum’s change in hairstyle. Modders from the likes of NLSC and Moddingway have amazed me over the years, and I believe some have even been hired by 2K. Best of all, it comes at no additional cost to the already expensive price tag of the game (Unless you decide to donate because you’re still Alonzo Mourning’s #1 fan, and PeacemanNOT’s face mod, compete with an accurate goatee, allows you to live out your Mourning championship fantasies in proper detail).

After you’ve resolved the Knicks Away Uniform, you may want to make winning a road game as the Knicks more believably difficult (if you were excited about a potential Rubio trade, you probably don’t). The second-most challenging aspect (1st being everything about online myPark) of engineering gameplay for 2K has got to be designing both a game that is fun to pick up, learn quickly, and narrowly beat your friend a la NBA Jam, AND at the same time, unforgivably realistic, captivating the most sophisticated basketball mind (rest assured Karl Malone votes for Karl Malone). With controls committed to muscle memory, my preference is ultimate realism to the point that I may Enes Kanter a desk chair and be a confusingly rude person to be around for a couple hours after I lose a playoff game.

As another significant improvement, 2K17 added several new controls to their in-game adjustable Sliders. Sliders can drastically improve gameplay and create alternative experiences of the game. Last year was the first time I really started to tinker with them, before giving up when I stumbled onto a version I found on Operation Sports, posted by a user named EccentricMeat. Without a ‘17 version to rely on, I started doing my best to recreate Meat’s after I found a base I liked called “Real Sliders” posted by Dark One. After considerable testing and adjusting I have come up with a set I enjoy even more than Meats’ 2K16 Sliders (though I’m anxious to try what they come up for ‘17). Either as an emulation of Meat’s strengths, or what I consider my own slight achievements here are the best aspects of my slider set:

On Ball Defense

I’ve never been fond of the bumping perimeter defense 2K has relied on. It isn’t terrible, but doesn’t feel like the anti hand-checking, funneling defense enforced in the league. Over-playing on defense with inadequate speed should result in more blow-by’s than is present by default. That’s not to say it’s a free run to the hoop. If properly anticipated, the ball can be cut off and charges can be taken.

Contesting Shots

Facing up in the mid-post, or getting off a 3 over a closeout just didn’t feel right. There wasn’t enough of an urgency or challenge to get a good contest. Players falling for pump fakes were almost non-existent. Every defender was Shane Battier. With my sliders you can properly make guarding Lamarcus Aldridge in the mid-post a nightmare. You’ll see players accidentally hack jump-shooters when fighting to get through a screen. You’ll see bad shot makers and players with a height-advantage make shots over good defense. The only thing left to do is cue up Mark Jackson.

Dribbling

2K put forth an effort to remove game-breaking dribbling for online modes. I do like the ball-handling system and controls as an improvement from last year, but felt the restrictive measures were a little too much. It was far too difficult to execute moves that elite dribblers pull off on a regular basis. The likes of Harden and Westbrook are much more fun to play with attacking the rim, weaving through traffic. I know there are folks out there with nicer stick skills than myself; in which case these might make it too easy to shake defenders.

Shooting Ability and Consistency

Here’s where the arcade vs. realism dynamic is magnified. Shooting, by far the most contentious of all 2K attributes, is reliably juiced year to year. Streaky shooters are marginal, instead of properly being widespread. Open shots are made buckets. Not only do the sliders nerf 3-point percentages, they do it in a way that depict the inconsistency of jump shots. The game feels less computer calculated, and consequently, more life-like.

Help Defense

Computer defenses can be all too predictable when the on-ball defender can’t contain the ball on default settings. I did my best to restructure defenses into funnel and help strategies using the Defensive Awareness and Help Defense ratings. You’ll see defenses help off the correct man more and waste less time before changing PNR coverages that are being exploited.

As pleased as I am with my set there are still big things in the game that piss me off, and also minor things that I’m curious about experimenting with. I’m not committed to calling them finished, but only expect subtle improvements, and welcome feedback.

They are available on the Steam version of 2K Share as:

Name: dreamshake real nba

Username: TD47

Or can be entered into console copies with the list below. It’s worth noting I play with Game Speed set at 51, Box Out Assist at 65, and Defensive Assist at 35

CPU/USER

Inside Shot Success: 34/35

Close Shot Success: 33/34

Mid-Range Shot Success: 37

3PT Success: 38/39

Layup Success: 46

Dunk in Traffic Frequency: 68/60

Dunk Traffic Success: 65

Pass Accuracy: 55

Alley-Oop Success: 55

Contact Shot Success: 37

Ball Security: 35/46

Body-Up Sensitivity: 12/11

Driving Contact Shot Frequency: 21

Inside Contact Shot Frequency: 23

Layup Defense Strength (Takeoff): 53

Layup Defense Strength (Release): 62

Jump Shot Defense Strength (Gather): 32

Jump Shot Defense Strength (Release): 37

Help Defense Strength: 76

Steal Success: 49/52

Acceleration: 62/65

Vertical: 50

Strength: 68

Stamina: 48

Speed: 29/32

Durability: 50

Hustle: 66/71

Ball Handling: 68/75

Hands: 37/43

Dunking Ability: 50

On-Ball Defense: 31/37

Stealing: 45/47

Blocking: 40/41

Offensive Awareness: 55/58

Defensive Awareness: 71/72

Offensive Rebounding: 37/39

Defensive Rebounding: 40/42

Offensive Consistency: 30/31

Defensive Consistency: 36

Fatigue Rate: 35

Lateral Quickness: 49/54

Take Inside Shots: 40

Take Close Shots: 39/40

Take Mid-Range Shots: 40

Take 3PT Shots: 50

Post Shots: 60

Attack the Basket: 65

Look for Post Players: 60

Throw Alley-Oops: 90

Attempt Dunks: 70

Attempt Putbacks: 60

Play Passing Lanes: 30

Go for On-Ball Steals: 42

Contest Shots: 65

Backdoor Cuts: 15

Over the Back Foul Frequency: 75

Charging Foul Frequency: 65/63

Blocking Foul Frequency: 96/92

Reaching Foul Frequency: 68/63

Shooting Foul Frequency: 65

Loose Ball Foul Frequency: 78


Tommy Driscoll

@drizmasterflash

tommy@dimetheoryhoops.com

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