NBA 2K18 Review

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The storyline gets more ridiculous every year, but I think I love it.

Rating: 🏀🏀🏀🏀🏀🏀🏀🏀🏀

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Madden Needs to Come Out Earlier

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I play a lot of video games. Like, a lot. The majority of my free time is spent playing video games. Surprising, I know. And, considering my devotion in all things sports-related, it should go without saying that I play a ton of sports games. They’re what I spend most of my gaming energy on. Whenever a new non-sport game I want comes out, I just marathon it until I’m come as close to 100% completion as I deem realistically possible, then go right back to whatever sport is in season at the time. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember. So when I start to criticize the Madden franchise, one of the longtime pillars of my life and an important part of my personal development from child to older, larger child, I come to you from a place not just of experience and expertise, but also a place of deep passion and commitment.

Madden needs to come out way earlier. That’s just a fact. August 22nd is too late in the year for the only football game on the market to be released. It’s only been out for three weeks now, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that NBA 2K18 is coming out next week. NBA 2K is an objectively better game franchise than Madden. How am I supposed to pour hours upon hours of my life into Madden when I could be playing MyCareer? It’s an impossible thing to ask of someone, and, frankly, I’m sick of being put in that position.

It didn’t used to be this way. Long ago in the Age of Heroes, NCAA Football would come out at the beginning of July, then Madden in August. It was the perfect setup: give me a taste of football at the start of training camp then give me another bite right before the season. It felt like a natural progression, and it kept me more invested in the college game, which only fueled my love for the NFL. Now, you have to go cold turkey all throughout training camp and the start of the college season, unless you feel like playing last year’s game, which, so close to the release of a shiny new version, only makes the cravings worse (once a game becomes 5+ years old, though, then it gains new life as an entertaining look into the past). I don’t want to be blasted in the face with a full load of football in late August, I want to ease my way in at my own pace.

Another problem is, of course, the demise of the NCAA franchise. I’m not the first and won’t be the last one to say that the NCAA games were more fun than Madden. The play was faster paced, there were distinct differences in play styles, not just slight variations of the same playbook like in Madden, and the career and dynasty modes were both better than any game mode Madden has ever had. I was legitimately addicted to recruiting computer generated high-school football players. Although I would never trust the computer to execute my gameplan the right way, I would always at least think about simming every game just so I could do more recruiting. Starting off as a random MAC or WAC (RIP) school and building them up to an improbable national powerhouse was awesome, and getting that first five star recruit was a unique joy that I’ve yet to replicate (if you started a dynasty as a blue blood school you’re a coward). That pursuit of developing fictional young players is probably what drove me to Fifa in the years since the last NCAA. Creating the most stacked youth academy in the world in my manager careers is pretty much my new favorite pastime. Sure, Madden still has the draft, and I do love scouting and angling to get better picks and young stars, but it’s not the same. At some point, I’ll lose interest in my franchise, mostly because they refuse to add any new features to it. Once that happens, I’m pretty much out. I mean, NBA has MyCareer, MyGM, even MyTeam (which, to me, is much better than Madden Ultimate Team since it’s possible to build a decent team way easier), then I can go online when I’m feeling myself. Fifa’s career mode is way better and more in-depth, has a better Ultimate Team, and is far more enjoyable to play online. Have you ever played Madden online? It stinks! The games are too long, there’s too many glitches, and I’m just not as good as I used to be. Not fun!

Lastly, and this really isn’t Madden’s fault, but the real-life product on the field is just so bad now. Listen, I’m a football junkie. I’ll watch any game at any time if you put it in front of me. But I’m convinced that the Patriots are the only NFL team capable of playing entertaining games at this point. They got completely dominated on Thursday night, but if they gave that same performance against the other 30 teams in the league on Sunday, they’d still win at least 24 games. Every team stinks, there’s only ten quarterbacks worth anything, and 95% of coaches and front offices don’t have the first clue what they’re doing. It’s comical how bad the NFL is right now. Compare that to the NBA, which tips off next month, and it’s night and day. The NBA has never been better or more interesting. Almost every team is run by smart people who understand the direction the league is going. Sure, there’s super teams, but there’s also more great players currently in the league than there has been in a long time. Almost everyone plays a visually appealing style. Bengals-Texans on Thursday night isn’t going to leave me dying to run to my PS4 and recreate the scintillating action. Bucks-Suns on a random Wednesday might. In addition to having the better video game, the NBA just has a better product than the NFL has. When 2K comes out, all I’m going to want to do is play MyCareer, start up a franchise mode to earn VC and explore different play styles, play MyTeam for a week before losing interest, and play the odd online game. Then Fifa comes out the week after. Before you know it, I’ve gone three weeks without playing Madden. What about the NFL as it currently is would make me want to run back to it, other than a base need to play fictional football games? EA needs to take a look in the mirror and realize that it’s time for a change. NCAA may be dead and gone, and I know they can’t really do anything about it until the NCAA itself changes (fat chance), but at least borrow it’s release date. If you offered Madden to me at the beginning of July, I would pay whatever amount you asked for. The start of training camp is when my football fever is at its highest point, not late August when I’ve actually seen how bad most teams are in the preseason. You might have to work a little harder, but putting Madden out in July would make everything better. My football fix is satisfied in a slower, more fulfilling way. I get more out of a game I paid good money for. It feels like a natural progression from one game to the next, rather that a huge cluster of release after release. And maybe, just maybe, you can help the NFL gain some momentum back from the NBA. I just fixed the NFL and EA Sports. I don’t always give out advice for free, so next time your company needs help, I’ll expect some sort of payment.

E3 Roundup

Just because I’m currently fighting against the Illuminati stronghold in Denver doesn’t mean I’ve been ignoring everything else. E3, otherwise known as the Video Game Trailer and Announcements Expo, just wrapped up, and, as usual, I’ve got the inside scoop about what you need to know/what you should be excited about/what you should ignore. Granted, if you aren’t a video game guy like myself, all this may not mean anything to you, but you already clicked on this, sooooooo, I don’t really care if you stop reading now. I’ve already got my pageviews.

The Good

Shadow of War- Covered here.

Assassin’s Creed Origins- Listen, I understand these games have gotten far fetched and, in the eyes of the less history-obsessed public, haven’t had a particularly strong showing the last two games, but I still love them. Maybe it’s just because I think it’s cool to explore some of my favorite time periods. Well, this looks amazing. Ancient Egypt is an awesome backdrop, and hopefully they hit this out of the park. Now, let’s just not talk about the movie.

Skull and Bones- So take the sea combat from Assassin’s Creed Black Flag and make it online and customizable? I’m in.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole- Stick of Truth was amazing. This looks better.

Wolfenstein II- I’m not a big FPS guy, but this looks sweet. Mostly just because you’re killing Nazis.

Call of Duty: WWII- See above.

God of War- Well, that was arousing. God of War shaped my youth. I’ve always been a bit of a Greek mythology expert, so that probably helped further my devotion. Norse mythology was always kind of my second favorite, so brutally murdering every major figure should be a blast.

Spider-Man- It’s literally the Batman Arkham Series with a Spider-Man skin, but I’m fine with that. Spider-Man games are always sweet.

Super Mario Odyssey- I’d hate to be the guy that tries playing this high.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy- I still don’t understand if this is just DLC or a full fledged game, but either way it looks sick.

Madden 18- I’ve got a serious hankering for football right about now.

Cuphead- I honestly thought this game came out years ago, but I guess it didn’t.

Vampyr- If I ever get arrested, this sentence may look bad, but the best part about the original Assassin’s Creed was that you could literally kill everyone you saw on the street with little to no consequence. This game says you can kill anyone you meet. So, yeah, I’m in.

Star Wars Battlefront II- I’m still pretty jaded by how much Battlefront sucked and how big of a rip off it was, but I’d be lying if I said I had no interest in slicing up hapless enemies with Darth Maul.

Kingdom Hearts 3- Finally, a new trailer! Wait, this was a trailer for the trailer? Seriously? This game is never coming out, is it? *sobs eternally*

The Bad/The Ugly

This was a trailer convention. Trailers are literally never bad. I bet a good percentage of these games will suck, but their trailers were great. If something has a bad trailer, odds are it’s never even going to make it to something like this.

Doctors have found a cure for Erectile Dysfunction, and it’s this new Shadow of War trailer

Well, I didn’t think Lord of the Rings would be the thing to put Viagra out of business, but here we are. For those who don’t know, E3, the annual video game expo, is going on as we speak. I’ll have a full roundup later, but this was too important not to address. I’m a huge Lord of the Rings guy. YYYUUUUUUUUUGGGGEEE. Aragorn is the greatest fictional king ever, IMO. So, needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to this game for a while. Shadow of Mordor was the first game I ever got for PS4, and it’s still easily one of the best  I’ve played for the system. Shadow of War could be a GOAT game. This looks awwweeeeeessssssoooooomeeee. The Nazgul are in it? *swoon* You come face to face with Sauron? *faint* There’s an armored Balrog? Someone get me some tissues. I’m so ready for this. I need to get a time machine ASAP and go to October 10th.

The Burning Questions Mailbag, pt. 2

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It’s been a little while, but we’re back with some more Burning Questions, straight from the People. The Burning Questions Mailbag was starting to get some serious buildup, so I had to give it some release. Plus, what better way to celebrate Memorial Day than answering other people’s important quandaries? Considering how heavily these Questions have been weighing on my readers’ minds, solving their problems kind of puts me in the same class of hero as the brave men and women we’re remembering today, right? I’ll keep telling myself that, at least. As with last time, we have to start with a question from the most important member of the #BurningQuestions community, myself.

Brian asks: Why do some people put toothpaste on their toothbrush before running it under water?

There are of a lot of great mysteries out there. Who was Jack the Ripper? What is the Meaning of Life? What happened to Jimmy Hoffa? What’s up with the Bermuda Triangle? Even the Mysteries of the Rosary. But for my money, absolutely nothing beats this. Why the hell do people put toothpaste on first? The order is wet toothbrush, put on toothpaste, brush teeth, wash toothbrush. It’s not exactly rocket surgery. There’s four steps and people somehow still mess it up. You don’t put milk in the bowl before the cereal, you don’t put socks on before underwear, and you don’t put toothpaste on before running it under water. Not to take a shot at the fine parents across this great nation, but if you allow your kids to do this, you’ve failed to produce a contributing member of society.

pestooneverything asks: Does Sean Paul make songs better or worse?

I don’t know, you tell me:

Infinitely better. Next.

xboxguy asks: As the streaming industry takes off (this year there will be more time spent watching games than playing them) and services like Mixer offer a more interactive viewing experience (crowd can vote on key decisions and impact the gameplay), will we see a shift in the way games are designed?

Well, I didn’t really expect to get into a discussion about the fate of the video game industry, but here we are. This may get a little nerdy, so bare with me. As far as Mixer is concerned, while it is assuredly the most advanced and efficient version of this type of populist streaming, it’s not the first time we’ve seen it. Consider the tale of Lord Helix, the central deity from Twitch Plays Pokemon, a bizarre experiment that asked the question “what if every decision in a Pokemon game, down to the direction the main character walked, was made by an internet comment section in real time?” Needless to say, they made a complete mockery of the game. But, by introducing complete chaos into the relatively straightforward story, an entirely unique experience was created. It was so popular, they did it more than 10 more times. Now, Pokemon games are handheld games with simple mechanics and rudimentary decision-making. It’s relatively easy to subjugate them to the whims of the masses. If things like Mixer can effectively bring a similar experience to current-gen console games, then it’s almost guaranteed to change the way games are developed. Considering the popularity of streaming (I’m not really a streaming guy, but, for some games, I understand the benefits of watching someone else play. Now, if you’re going to sit there and watch someone else play, and then make all the key decisions and impact the gameplay? Just play the game yourself), games who focus on streaming will undoubtedly add features to encourage audience participation. I suspect, soon enough, almost every game will introduce some kind of peanut-gallery-friendly mechanics. The gaming industry has never been one to stand in the way of progress, and I fully expect this to be a massive hit.

BlacktopLebron asks: Couple NBA questions- is the lottery rigged, and who are your top ten NBA players right now, based purely on talent (not age, contract, success, etc.)

Rigged? The NBA Draft Lottery? It can’t be. Not the same lottery the Celtics just won by pure chance and of their own merits? Never! (But, in all seriousness, yes, of course it’s rigged. You think the Lakers kept their top-3 protected pick by chance? You think the still-NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets won the lottery because of luck? Or that the Cavs won a million straight lotteries despite having astronomical odds after LeBron left town? Or the Bulls somehow winning the Derrick Rose lottery? Please. Russian elections think the NBA Draft Lottery has a dubious history)

As for my top ten, it looks something like this:

  1. LeBron James
  2. Kevin Durant
  3. Kawhi Leonard
  4. Russell Westbrook
  5. Anthony Davis
  6. Steph Curry
  7. James Harden
  8. Giannis Antetokounmpo
  9. John Wall
  10. Karl-Anthony Towns

JoeyGSp0t asks: What’s the most degrading thing you’d do for money? Would you ever do porn?

Well, I’m flattered that you would consider asking if I’d ever do porn. Truth be told, though, I’d do pretty much anything for money. Now, if I did ever delve into the adult entertainment world, I’d probably have to create an entirely new life for myself, because you can’t be a part of the regular world and the porn world at the same time. I’d need new friends, new family, most likely a new identity (besides my stage name Rodrigo Waters, obviously). I might even need to fake my own death. That’s a lot of work. Too much work, you might say. So, I probably won’t do porn, mostly because of the inconvenience it would cause me. Not the shame. I abandoned all shame long ago.

WhiteKong asks: What’s the best specialty sandwich?

Excellent question as always, WhiteKong. Not many things in this world better than a good sandwich. I’m assuming by specialty sandwich, you mean anything more complex than a basic deli meat sandwich. Don’t get me wrong, good deli meat is excellent. But sometimes, your body needs a something more than just turkey and condiments. Now, to avoid the more annoying, trapped-in-2015 sections of the internet mob, I’m drawing some guidelines here: this only counts regular sandwiches. Meat between two or more separate pieces of bread. Anything served in a hot dog bun doesn’t count. Also, no specific fast food items, either. Only things you can either make at home or get at any good sandwich place, not one specific restaurant.

Top Five Sandwiches

  1. Cuban
  2. PB & J
  3. Cheeseburger
  4. Bacon (or sausage), egg, and cheese
  5. French Dip

XtothaG asks: Will Andre 3000 ever come out with a solo album?

If I knew the answer to that, I’d be doing something better with my life than writing this blog.

dpower asks: What’s the best pickup line on Tinder?

Easy. “Hey, do you read briansden69.com? Wow, me too.” Hope you’re ready for what comes your way.

KingRichard1911 asks: What would be the best period of history to live in?

I assume you mean besides “right now.” Quality of life in anything before 1950 is going to be pretty lousy, so I’ve got to pick a time where my modern-day knowledge would make me a king, but where it’s not so much greater than what the people have that I’m considered a witch. And, in the likely event that I’m killed, I’d prefer it to be something quick like a gun, not a dull bone knife. That’s a pretty small window. I’m thinking anywhere from the late 1600s through the 1700s or so would be good for me. If I went back there with a set of modern maps, I could easily become the greatest pirate ever. All I’d have to do is not get caught. Avoiding the law in any time before the Civil Rights Movement should have been the easiest thing ever, so I’m good there. Or, since I’d be the biggest, strongest, and smartest person there, maybe I could lead the Continental Army against the British. I’d be the first president, not George Washington. And, since I lack his honor and foresight, I’d just stay president until I die, creating the exact same system of government that I just spent many years fighting to avoid. Or I could just be a taller, smarter Napoleon who doesn’t do stupid shit like invade Russia or get into pointless wars with Spain. Really, the possibilities are endless for anyone who just isn’t an idiot. That’s the only pre-requisite for world domination.

WhiteKong also asks: What’s the most overrated food?

Last time I discovered that cantaloupe was the most underrated fruit, so I guess it’ll now become tradition to debate which foods are properly rated. Not that I’m complaining, or anything. My food takes are rock solid, so it’s an honor that many people come to me looking for guidance. Now, there are tons of overrated foods. Off the top of my head there’s things like Taylor Ham, Sriracha, quinoa, kale, wasabi, the list goes on. But, I keep coming back to avocado, but I actually don’t think it’s the true answer. Let’s get it out of the way, though: avocados suck. I know I have to renounce my status as a millennial for saying it, but someone has to. I’m sick of being held hostage by this stupid fruit. Avocados don’t taste good. They don’t even really have a taste. They’re just mush. Hey, Chipotle, I’ll keep my $20 for a small cup of guacamole, thank you, because guacamole stinks. But, as I said, avocados aren’t the most overrated food. You know what is? The term superfood. It’s the entire reason avocados became popular in the first place. They’re the original superfood. People are completely obsessed with the concept of superfood. What, do you think an avocado is going to do your taxes or something? Rescue your cat from a tree? What happened to something just being healthy? Now it’s got to be a superfood. And they’re all so in-your-face, too. People trying to get my to eat açai berries or something. Please. And everything’s a superfood, now, too. “Blueberries found to be newest superfood.” Just because it tastes good and is healthy doesn’t mean it has to be called a superfood. Pretty much everything outside Chili Cheese Fritos is a superfood these days. Literally every fruit. Pretty much every nut. Most fish. People saying wine is a superfood. If everything is a superfood, how can anything be a superfood? It’s so stupid. Avocados are healthy. That’s good to know. Calling it a superfood doesn’t make me want to eat it. It doesn’t make me want avocado-flavored stuff. It doesn’t make me want avocado-themed clothing. It doesn’t make me want to name my first ten children Avocado. It’s like the insufferable bacon craze that finally died down. There’s always the It food that everyone thinks everyone else loves and wants to jam it down the public’s throat 24/7. And right now, it’s Superfood.

DeerHit45 asks: As medical sciences continue to push towards reversing the effects of aging, humans are quickly becoming immortal. Will this make life lose all meaning?

Had to end with a feel-good question. I mean, yeah, if everyone was immortal I don’t think everyone would care about anything anymore. What would be the point? The skydiving industry would love it. Casinos would be thrilled. Amusement parks would be on the rise. People would just spend their infinite lives searching for thrills, for anything that made them feel alive. Or feel anything at all. There wouldn’t be some great progress or new utopian society. That’s just not how humans are wired. If our lives had no end, all meaning would be sapped from it. Why should I ever go to work? Why should I leave the house? Whatever it is I was going to do, I can do it tomorrow. After all, I have all the tomorrows in the world. If you think humans are lazy now, just wait until we’re immortal.