2K’s Team-Up Mode

Posted September 21st, 2008 at 8:09 am

With the move of the NHL franchise to Visual Concepts it provides the opportunity to look at some aspects of NHL 2K9 that will be similar in the upcoming NBA 2K9. One of those things is the new Team-Up online mode where you control a single player as opposed to the team along with other users controlling their own player.

I tested out the mode in NHL in order to find out what to expect when NBA comes out. 2K is in a position where they are attempting to catch up in the co-op area of online play (they unquestionably have the superior leagues) following the success that Live 08 had with OTP and the advances made there for 09. While they have taken a step in the right direction by providing Team-Up it doesn’t look as though it will reach the level of what EA is offering for this year.

One of the problems encountered with NHL 2K9 is simply that there aren’t enough people online playing the mode. That is unlikely to be the case with NBA 2K9 though. There is also a timer countdown of two minutes before the game automatically starts which right now is resulting in either the timer restarting because you’re the only person waiting or the game firing up with 1-on-1 or 2-on-1 type match-ups which pretty much defeats the purpose of the mode.

In ranked games you don’t get to choose the team you are on or the position you play. You can however choose those things in unranked games. I wonder whether this will encourage people to play through or whether some will drop if they don’t like the team they’re on or the position they are in control of. It’s one thing to lock users into positions to prevent fighting over particular players. But I don’t understand not being able to choose what team you’re on. If I got into a game and was placed on the Oklahoma City Thunder I would probably turn my system off. You do see the two teams when going into the lobby area but then I wonder if people will just go in and out of the lobby until they are happy with the two teams.

Something I liked was there being no traditional lobby room but rather putting you out on the ice while the users pile in. I hope that is the case with NBA as well essentially allowing you to warm up before the game begins. However they need to rethink the auto-start and timer length as mentioned earlier.

There is no Be a Pro type camera so you’re still working with the standard camera angle. I think that took me out of the experience a bit. When it comes to the NBA games though I feel as though the standard camera works well enough. A more first person perspective probably wouldn’t work that will in a basketball game. Live’s camera is only slightly altered to concentrate on the player being controlled (still relatively similar to the broadcast camera).

Actually you can’t even pause the game while playing. When you attempt to pause all that comes up is the list of gamertags involved. In some ways this is good because pausing the game interrupts the flow but at the same time there can be legit reason to pause it. I’m not sure whether unranked games can be paused.

The games played smoothly with no lag but with the lack of online activity I’m not sure that is a barometer of what to expect come NBA time when there will be a lot more people playing and involved in each Team-Up game. If it holds up well than the mode will certainly be enjoyable despite the areas it is lacking in.

There are still some important questions left to be answered. How are substitutions handled? Can you set picks? Will you be able to pause the game or change any options?

I’m still looking forward to getting time in with this mode in NBA 2K9. I think it is well suited for how the game plays. I can’t help but think though that it will feel a little empty after the EASHL experience and what Live 09 has in store this year with the Clubs. Regardless it should provide a unique experience that will be a lot of fun.