I suppose there are two ways of looking at NBA 2K17: The Prelude, a free, downloadable mini-preview of NBA 2K17. The first is obviously how it was intended to function: as a surprisingly in-depth way for players to build the athlete they will eventually take into the full game’s MyCareer mode; allowing them customisation options, and the joy of seeing their character progress through a college career as their draft fluctuates with good and bad performances. There’s a story, too, one bolstered by real-life players and analysts, who show up to add some legitimacy to the proceedings. Ever wondered what your player might do in his downtime at college? Ever wanted him to see him play video games with his roommate, or call his parents to let them know which prestigious college team he elected to join? This is the experience for you.
Here’s the other way of looking at it: I’m here for the achievements, and I don’t give a shit about any of this.
The problem, though, is that the game doesn’t give you much choice. You have to give a shit, because all the cutscenes are unskippable. The games take forever. The loading times are abysmal. It took me around an hour to unlock every achievement, but less than five minutes to open Netflix.
I know this isn’t how the game was intended to be played. But I’m doing a challenge, here. I’m on the clock. And there is never any excuse for unskippable cutscenes, no matter how much money you spent on them, or how many recognisable faces you roped in to lend a line or two. What’s more, the thing’s obnoxious. Most of the achievements are fine, but one of them (for purchasing a player upgrade) requires you to earn a certain amount of currency, and if you don’t (I did, but more on that in a minute) then you’re fucked. There’s no way to replay the matches that the demo offers. You’re stuck with a big, fat, uncompleted game on your profile.
Luckily I was aware of this going in, and ended up with plenty of cash. All the other achievements are a joke, so I wasn’t worried, even if I was profoundly irritated by the fact that the 10-minute tutorial took about twice that long because it kept throwing tooltips at me that I had to wait a few seconds to get rid of. But a casual Google search informed me of the best way to speed through the matches quickly, which is this: To intentionally foul the opposition a few times until the match is abandoned. You know what happens when you do this? You don’t earn any currency, thus making an achievement unobtainable.
A dilemma, dear readers. I wanted to get through the game quickly, but I needed that achievement. Luckily, there’s a way around it. You can download a companion app, and jam your stubby fingers against a few buttons, and bing, 500 coins are yours. Achievement unlocked, essentially. If you read my Assassin’s Creed Unity review way back in the day, you’ll know how I feel about companion apps, but I think this kind of experience might be the only time they’re acceptable. I imagine if I had any intention of playing NBA 2K17 – and I don’t – this might have been something really interesting. As it stands, it was a dull, annoying grind. Luckily, we have many of those left to look forward to.
Why did I sign up for this challenge again?