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What’s in Your Box: Living The Dream

/ Aug 6th, 2016 No Comments

NBA 2K16

Each week, we here at Gaming Illustrated are always playing a number of different video games. However, we may not be talking about them in reviews or editorials. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth talking about, but for any number of reasons an avenue to speak on them doesn’t come up. To remedy the issue, we’re going to ask our staff (and you, honestly) what’s in your box?

What’s in Greg’s Box

Hey boxers! (Boxsters? Boxi?) Time for another week of finding out what I’m up to outside of reviews and shockingly it’s not Banjo-Kazooie or Paper Mario!

The Yooka-Laylee Toybox has taken a lot of my time as I explore all the nooks and crannies. I also continue to live in a pitched fever-dream as I wait for it to come out early next year.

My friends and I continue to make Azeroth our perverbial tavern-wench in World of Warcraft. For anyone unititated I would highly recommend buying Legion and giving it a whirl, especially considering all new players will get a month free with their account. Legion will also players to instantly jump to level 100 with the new Demon Hunter class.

Rocket League Giveaway

Rocket League is such a fresh experience.

Rocket League has also taken some of my time, with the new updates it’s a fresh experience jumping back in. This title has quickly taken off to unexpected heights and serves as one of the more engaging titles with a control scheme I cannot applaud enough.

What’s in Kalvin’s Box

It is another week, which means my box has been putting in some work besides reviewing stuff. For some reason, I decided to try out the MyCareer mode in NBA 2K16, and I have some final thoughts on Pokémon Go.

What’s the Scenario?

One of the big features of NBA 2K16 was the story mode handled by Spike Lee. It was a bats*** crazy idea when it was first announced, but exciting to see a sports game try something different instead of simply rehashing the previous year’s version with slight updates. Despite its novelty, “Livin’ Da Dream” has some serious execution problems (probably a result of Spike Lee’s own recent wave of cinematic misses).

In “Livin’ Da Dream”, you take on the role of Frequency Vibrations, a promising high school basketball star from Harlem. His parents are blue collar workers, both work at the Post Office to provide for him and his twin sister, Cee Cee. Freq has a ne’er–do–well friend, Vic. Vic seems to be hanging onto Freq simply for his big pay day once he becomes a big time NBA star, which is definitely in the cards.

NBA 2K16

Meet Frequency Vibrations.

The story mode begins with Freq playing three final high school basketball games culminating in the big state championship. After each game, more and more big name college recruiters start pitching Freq in an odd single close-up to make you actually feel like you’re Frequency Vibrations. Everything feels very cliché with these recruiters giving the hoo-rah school spirit bulls*** without ever having a twist.

You’d think there would be a scene in this part of Freq’s story where he’d have to deal with bribes and make a choice on what type of man he is. All the pitches end with a letter offering a full scholarship to Freq if he chooses their school. Also, it seems like Freq’s performances in these games doesn’t affect his college offers like it is all a foregone conclusion. It speaks to the inflexibility of the story mode, which is one of the major problems.

NBA 2K16

The story Spike Lee wants to tell is very clear, but the nature of a custom, personal “MyCareer” is at odds with it.

When you begin the story mode you’re treated to a behind-the-scenes feature of the mo cap actors and actress acting out a scene for the game, which ends with Spike Lee stepping out and introducing the story mode turning into a terrifying CG Lee with granny glasses. It becomes obvious the type of story “Livin’ Da Dream” is trying to tell, and it is great in that respect.

A story about an inner city POC character trying to better himself through basketball, while it may not pack a punch in originality (even for Lee), it is a good story to tell within the context of the NBA 2K series. When you begin the game you are immediately dropped into the “create a character” screen. This becomes the character playing Frequency Vibrations in “Livin’ Da Dream”.

NBA 2K16

Your character can clearly undercut any realism or seriousness inherent in “Livin’ Da Dream”.

There is a wide variety of options when creating a character and if you happen to create a pale, white monster with receding pink hair, it seems at odds with the character of Freq. It takes you out immediately out of the story. Even though it is hilarious to see, it undermines the weight of the story. “Livin’ Da Dream” would have been better served with a fixed character or a few pre-made selections.

A Closing Sentiment

It is sad to say, well maybe not that sad, I am done with Pokémon Go. The three week run where it transfixed me and made me want to play it obsessively is more than any free-to-play game can boast, especially when the app is feature poor. Something happened this week where I felt like I had gotten everything I was going to get out of it as it exists.

Maybe when a new update that adds stuff to the game comes out, I’ll give it another run. However, as it is the struggle to up levels after 20 is too grindy even for a grind heavy game. It certainly rewards new players with more novelty and more enticing rewards for progress.

Now I’m going to have to figure out what to do on the train.

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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