A Spike Lee Joint: NBA 2K16 Dunked Onto Steam

“Boom shakalaka!” begins this post, indicating how out of touch I am with basketball. My American sport of choice was baseball, really. But I know enough about slamming a fierce jam and high dunking a score off the top turnbuckle to tell you that NBA 2K16 [official site] has arrived. What’s new about this year’s release? Oh, you know, the usual – it’s a Spike Lee Joint.

Yes, the filmmaker behind films including Malcolm X and Do the Right Thing has written and directed NBA 2K16’s singleplayer campaign. Livin’ Da Dream will see you guide a player from high school to picking a college team and on to glory, split between games and life. How curious! Have a peek at it in this trailer:

What’s new with the ball-bouncing and man-running? 2K say, “A new motion engine generates smarter, hyper-realistic movement plus new ball & rim physics and player collisions, leading to a more intense and authentic on-court experience.” Then it expands custom leagues and online a new mode and new parks and… it’s the latest annualised sequel in a long-running series, you know what to expect.

One unpleasant turn-up is that I’ve seen lots of folks grumbling about poor performance, crashes, a lack of keyboard support (oh my gosh, please get a controller if you can afford one), and undelivered pre-order bonuses. Boo! Maybe hold off on this one to see if patches help much – especially as Steam is selling it for £40.


  1. Da5e says:

    I look forward to Michel Gondry’s WWE 2K18.

    • Johnny Lizard says:

      John Madden has had an American Football game for years.

      • pepperfez says:

        I hear they were going to replace him with Guillermo del Toro before the whole “No more games” thing.

    • pepperfez says:

      Werner Herzog’s Beach Volleyball
      MLB 2K17 with Judd Apatow
      Masters of Horseracing featuring Takashi Miike
      Quentin Tarantino Presents: FIFA 2015

      • damnsalvation says:

        I’m waiting for M. Night Shamilan’s Madden 2017. I hear that at the end of the season you wake up as an insane Madden trapped in an airplane bathroom.

  2. Skeletor68 says:

    Look up Spike Lee v Reggie Miller 1994 on YouTube.

  3. Syt says:

    I’ve watched some gameplay videos of NBA 2k16, and though I have not much of an interest in the NBA, it looks absolutely amazing.

    Then I look at FIFA 16, its wooden players and abrupt animation transitions and wonder why EA’s title looks so badly aged by comparison.

    • king0zymandias says:

      I think it’s the FIFA guys at EA who are simply not that good, or they spend way too much time implementing micro-transaction or something. I mean if you look at the other yearly sports title EA releases it’s clear how much better they look and feel compared to FIFA. It’s 2015 and they still can’t implement even a pseudo cloth simulation for their players. They just do that weird normal map blending that looks horrible.

  4. JamesTheNumberless says:

    Always thought it was inspirational how the Americans took the classic squad based real-time strategy game NBA Jam, and turned it into a real sport. Not a proper sport of course but still impressive.

  5. Renton says:

    Man, I would love to try this game and play through the whole Spike Lee joint, because I’m really into career modes that sort of have narratives and I’m really interested in how this one turned out. However, I am SO BAD at these NBA games to the point where my win/loss ratio against the normal difficulty AI is around 1/8 or something, I’m pretty sure the whole thing will be horribly unenjoyable for me, unless Spike Lee has some superb storylines about players who are consistently really bad at their jobs.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      It’s also not much welcoming to new players when it comes to tutorials and such, it definitely needs a deep understanding to be enjoyed to it’s fullest.

      Then again, when things start to work…

      • mackemforever says:

        It’s a strange one. I’ve only ever played on NBA 2K game before, I can’t remember which version but I have a feeling it was NBA 2K13, and I distinctly remember it having a whole playable tutorial. I still sucked at the game but when I completely forgot how to do something I could refer back to the tutorial.

        Why exactly they’ve dropped that in favour of three very short tutorial videos I don’t know!

        Anyway, back on topic, I couldn’t care less about basketball, I’ve never played it in real life, never watched a game in real life, but I’m strangely hooked to this game, and that is praise enough from me!

    • Daemoroth says:

      I had the same experience when I bought NBA 2k14 (?). It was my first NBA game and I was absolutely useless and had no fun at all, losing constantly, watching the AI do (As it looked to me) the exact same thing successfully that I fail at multiple times in a row.

      What helped was dialing back the AI, giving myself a sizable boost in shot accuracy and all those settings, then playing the game (Constantly tweaking those settings to have close games).

      Started winning, started understanding why I used to lose or why certain things didn’t seem to work when I tried them and slowly got better.

      I’ve managed to dial back all my boosted stats to match the AI, and am beating it consistently on normal. And obviously having a lot more fun.

      Try it, it might help.

  6. TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

    The biggest performance for me was caused by V-sync, things started stuttering in very specific scenarios only and that was fixed by going borderless fullscreen.

    Now everything is butter smooth in every single circumstance, with no exception, at 1440p, 4x AA and everything maxed in a downclocked 980ti, so i’d wager a juicy version of a 970 would be more than enough and 1080p could be served by a 150£ card at it’s full glory.

    I encountered some bugs and stuff that needed to reset games, all in all i can’t say it’s as perfectly polished as 2K15, and the camera shakes during free throws, for some reason.

    Worth also pointing out that the story is a little over the top, rather enjoyable but incredibly linear and will absolutely feel disjointed to the less skilled folks if they don’t match the superstar status that’s being thrown at the protagonist.

    If you’re averaging more turnovers than points in your games things will start to look very weird when you receive your custom Jordan shoes.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Oh, the whole Spike Lee thing will end at some point and you’ll be free to continue your career.

    • mackemforever says:

      I think the camera shake is meant to be showing the pressure of the situation, or some bollocks like that!

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Yeah, my bad, i was reading about it just now and well… I don’t know how they passed that as a feature but it can be disabled as far as i understand it.

    • Slazer says:

      The camera shaking during free throws existes for years, but until now it was only used by players and not by the AI.

      When the guest team attempts free-throws, the home team can use the shoulder buttons to shake the screen. Some kind of homecourt andvantage gimmick

  7. Arehandoro says:

    I’d buy it right away if there was a linux version. I have all versions from 2K10 to 2K15 so far and every year, with its flaws, gets better and better.

    Unfortunately, since I completely moved to Linux it seems I’ll have to wait to play it again. Probably good for my free time and wallet.

  8. trjp says:

    Does this mean I have to choose a slave name?

    I kinda enjoyed Spike Lee’s work until he started to rave about this shit – it kinda grates because he his ancestor’s hadn’t been slaves he’d not be a multi-millionaire film-director – you’d think he of all people might realise that every cloud…

    • CannedLizard says:


    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      You have a black twin sister regardless of your skin color and a Harlem background for your family and best friend, plus you’re all brotherhood and family and stuff with no options to choose how to behave.

      Either play by their rules or just do the opposite and make a like i did and give no shits about it.

    • rabbit says:

      “SLAVERY: Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining” — a trjp joint

      • trjp says:

        I was being trite but the guy is a stuck record on the topic – way I see it, there’s plenty to be upset about RIGHT NOW without being hung-up on shit which happened to your ancestors.

        He did a ‘Who do you think you are’ and I was kinda hoping he’d turn-out to be utterly unrelated to slavery but they dug and dug until they found something – no “Alastair McGowan” style revelations there, sadly…

        • rabbit says:

          Am not entirely in disagreement with you with regards to Spike Lee but it was a very poorly articulated argument & the follow up comment either was implicitly denying or just not making any attempt at addressing the fact that regardless of slavery’s abolition, the west (and in particular the USA) is still as racially fucked as ever & showing no particular signs of changing.

        • rabbit says:

          post script : unless that’s what you meant by problems we are suffering from RIGHT NOW – which I’d agree with though say that it’s difficult if not impossible to separate the present from the past in that respect.

          • trjp says:

            err – yeah – I was suggesting we deal with the issues of the here-and-now.

            History of great – everyone needs to learn from it – but some people seem to think we all have to take responsibility for it which is bonkers.

            I do genuinely wonder what the Germans must think of our endless obsession with WW2 – celebrating every possible event etc. etc. They’ve moved on having lost – we won and we’ve really gone nowhere.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            It isn’t quite as simple as that in Germany, or even here in Austria. There is a national day of mourning but there aren’t direct commemorations for WWII because it raises the difficult issue of who died fighting for the war criminals, and who died fighting for his family. To say that Germany has completely moved on is to over-simplify, there’s still plenty of guilt and shame around and Germany’s foreign policy is still shaped by the consequences of the 20th century.

            If you ask me about the US and its problems with the idea of race I think segregation, both overt and covert, and much more recent history (arguably still going strong in some forms) has done more damage than slavery. If the freedmen had been given what they were promised, the 40 acres would have been on the grounds of a sewage factory and the mule would have had arthritis.

          • Stellar Duck says:

            I don’t know if you’re from the US but considering the people who insist that waving the battle flag of the ANV, I think it’s fair to say that certain segments of the racist population have not let go of the past.

            Segregation was also a thing until very recently. Nobody is saying you’re (as in you, personally) are responsible, but like it or not, the societies we live it do have a collective responsibility that reached back in the past. Because the consequences of the past reach into the future. Closing your eyes and shouting that it’s all in the past does not make the consequences of Jim Crow go away.

            Just as in Germany they still deal with the past and constantly grapple with it. They haven’t moved on. They just have a different task than the rest of us.

            And just to make clear, my own country has a past that has some consequences that still are relevant. So I hold that we need to keep dealing with that and facing it head on, even if I’m not personally responsible, I accept that my country as a whole is.

    • pepperfez says:

      This is a totally amazing set of comments. It’s perfect. I love it.

  9. FreudianTrip says:

    I think I finished Spike Lee’s film? I say think because the whole thing is so confusing and batshit crazy.

    Remember when you played NBA2K and didn’t have a twelve minute monologue about your best friends parents dying from AIDS and killing himself?

    I don’t. Not anymore.

    • FreudianTrip says:

      I’m not even sure he killed himself. He was reading from a notepad like it was a suicide but I’m pretty sure they said he died in a car chase?

      Oh and Spike Lee breaks the fourth wall more times than your average Monkey Island experience.

      ‘Shazam’ as he says.

  10. Wowbagger says:

    I liked NBA Street, from when EA were on their ‘turn everything up to 11′ streak. Triple alle’ oops you say? yes indeedy.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Yeah, that kind of worked when they embraced the absolute highest level of bat-shit crazy stuff, especially great when played with others.

      Well, before you start trading punches and insults that is.

  11. anHorse says:

    I’ve kinda had enough of nba2k (I don’t follow the sport so any non-mechanical changes don’t bother me) but the idea of a crazy story ala the PS2 WWE games is appealing

    • Skeletor68 says:

      Yes, Smackdown 2 story mode forever! It even had a co-op career mode!

  12. Octane says:

    [Warning: Mild spoilers for MyCareer and rant incoming]
    I wasn’t a big fan of last year’s scripted events in MyCareer mode, but at least it was about basketball. This year’s Spike Lee “experience” is just horrible. The story itself is utter crap, a clichéd plot with every character a collection of stereotypes and some of the most heavyhanded, unsubtle writing I’ve ever seen. It’s like someone took every Spike Lee movie, distilled it down and adapted the result for six year olds. What’s even worse is that it’s completely disconnected from playing basketball itself. I was coming off the bench, playing decently, but the cutscenes insist that I’m the league’s newest megastar. The game also constantly dangles choices in front of the player, but doesn’t allow them to make any of them. I got to pick which college to play for, but that’s it. There are looong cutscenes in which my player debates whether to declare for the draft or stay in college with overbearing control freak sister, gold-digger girlfriend and sleazy agent, and it looks like I get to make that choice. Exciting! Cutscene ends, NBA draft begins. There are several more moments like this.

    Last year’s story wasn’t very good either, but you got to make a few choices and influence the way your player behaved. It also involved your coach and teammates, and was strongly influenced by your on-court performance.

    MyCareer is pretty much the only mode of NBA2K I play, and Spike Lee has taken most of the fun out of the first 10 hours or so. I want to be able to create my own player and shape their career through the way I play on the court. Now, no matter how I play, who I want my player to be or how he looks, he’ll always have a black twin, come from Harlem, have the same stupid nickname and make nonsensical choices in cutscenes.

    Additionally, thanks to the Spike Lee treatment, you no longer get to play your full rookie season, it’s reduced to 8 games. And it doesn’t really matter how well you perform in them, the cutscenes still make you out as a star and you have no way to access the standings or stats to see how your team is doing. None of the cutscenes feature your coach or the other players, so you don’t ever feel as a part of the team. The games are meaningless, you just have to play them so you can watch the next cutscene, in order to be able to play the next game etc., hoping the whole thing will end soon. You don’t get told who won the championship in 2016 or if you won any awards. Apparently I got voted on the all-rookie team, but I had to dig through menus to find that out.

    This is all pretty bad, but I guess fairly easy to ignore – just sim your first season’s games and skip the cutscenes. After that, the cutscenes end and you can continue with “regular” MyCareer mode. What really soured me on the whole thing though, is that, due to your rookie season being largely simmed you don’t get the chance to go up against the current teams. As a NBA fan, this is a dealbreaker for me. By the start of the 2016-17 season a lot of players have moved teams or retired – I haven’t played a ton of games yet, but there’s a good chance that I won’t get to play against Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan or Dirk Nowitzki.

    It’s a shame, because I actually like the changes they made to MyCareer mode after the Spike Lee joint and the gameplay feels a lot better than last year (although I haven’t quite got used to the changed controls yet). I also like that you get to play a few highschool and college games before you enter the NBA. I really wish they’d introduce the option of starting the game in the 2015-16 season and skipping the whole Spike Lee thing. The way it’s now I feel like I’m playing someone else’s career, not MyCareer.

    TL;DR: If you’re thinking about buying the game for the Spike Lee joint, don’t.

    • Slazer says:

      I hate the Spike Lee stuff and much preferred the story in the last two years.

      Bad thing is you cannot even skip the high school games, and they give you no VC points at all. I wanted to start a second MyCareer and had to start the games and do something else while “Frequency Vibrations” was just standing around.

      I really hope they add a way to skip this crap

  13. xyzzy frobozz says:

    Surely I can’t be the only person who reads “A Spike Lee joint” and wonders when the word “joint” became a noun?

    A Spike Lee joint.

    A Spike Lee joint what?


    • Stellar Duck says:

      I thought it was about his weed, somehow. Though I did think that was a bit brazen for a hoop ball game.

    • pepperfez says:

      His knee. Blew it out playing high school ball; that’s why he had to switch his focus to film making instead of going to college on athletic scholarship. He mentions it in all his movies as a reminder of his struggle.