I can’t even begin to overstate how impressed I am with the Xbox One. It’s exceeded my expectations and then some, from the quick power up from the standby to its sleek and quick user interface to the “Xbox, snap” feature that allows you to run an app while playing a video game, it’s incredible.

Taken with the shoddy camera from my phone. I was playing in MyGM mode with the Boston Celtics against the Orlando Magic on NBA 2K14 while watching (listening to) NFL Network in the top right corner. Notice the Bears/Rams graphical overlay in the background on NFL Network (again in the top right corner). Nice.
Click to enlarge: Taken with the shoddy camera from my phone. I was playing in MyGM mode with the Boston Celtics against the Orlando Magic on NBA 2K14 while watching (listening to) NFL Network in the top right corner. Notice the Bears/Rams graphical overlay in the background on NFL Network (again in the top right corner; Rams won 42-21 today, by the way). Nice.

I don’t know where to begin. This is not a review; these are just a series of unorganized thoughts on the gaming console. I also picked up Dead Rising 3, Ryse: Son of Rome, COD: Ghosts and Madden 25 but haven’t even popped them in to play (asides from Ghosts and Madden). My time has been consumed by what is an extremely impressive version of a video game basketball series that’s on top of the mountain where sports games are concerned. NBA 2K14 is not just a “simple port” from its last-gen (360/PS3) predecessors; it’s practically a whole new game with its “eco-motion” engine where players emit genuine facial expressions when they react to certain events in a game, and the environment feels as real as if you are there in person. The player models are better defined, the animations run smoother (than the 360/PS3 versions) and the court spacing is improved (more realistic). The TD Garden court looks amazing. The action replays and television-esque ‘cuts’ after baskets are a monumental addition to the aura of what the game presents. The soundtrack is also catchy as hell.

I’ve barely scratched the surface with NBA 2K14, having not even delved into MyCareer. I played a game of MyTeam (similar to Madden NFL’s Ultimate Team format), but I have nothing to add in regards to said mode. MyGM is tremendous, although the menu interface is fucking annoying, trying to find what you want. I liked NBA 2K13’s setup a bit better. Despite my, uh, record of 2-6 with the Celtics in MyGM (hey, I’m playing on All-Star), I’m having a blast. I started off the season 0-4; in that fourth game, I led the Memphis Grizzlies by 8 with about 33 seconds to go when Mike Conley drilled two consecutive 3s (while I missed a few free throws in the process). I was sloppy with an inbound pass and Tony Allen stole it and quickly hit a layup (and was fouled in the process; resulting in an and-1 and a Memphis lead). Ensuingly I attempted to hit a game winning bucket with Jeff Green to no avail.

One of my qualms (so far) with the gameplay is the annoying inevitability of turnovers. It’s as if the CPU/AI has the awareness of someone strung out on adderall and SPIKE Energy. I mean, shit, not only that, but it’s like all of your adversaries have the reach of Jon Jones. Rajon Rondo is one of the better passers (understatement) in the NBA and yet the virtual Rondo’s ability to ‘thread the needle’ so to speak, to, say, Brandon Bass in the paint or a cutting Jeff Green, is often a failed pursuit because the opponents’ frontcourt is always hungry enough to deflect any and everything. It’s fucking irritating. I’m sure some tweaking of the sliders can cut down on these issues, but sliders won’t help anything when I’m trying to run an isolation with Jeff Green and the ball brushes up against a teammate or hit a defender’s leg and all control is lost.

Oh, and by the way, everyone who knows me understands that I’m an excessive expletive user by nature without any realistic intention to change something that is innocuous, but I’ll have to modify such behavior of yours truly because on NBA 2K14, with the Xbox One’s Kinect hooked up, I’m called for a technical foul a couple of times a game because I might emit a word to describe male cow excrement.

I wasn’t looking forward to using the Xbox One’s Kinect. Not at all. Originally I thought it was a waste of an add-on. Now? I love it. First thing I did on Friday evening was go to Bing and I said, “Xbox, search for Bryan Cranston” and out came a slew of Cranston-related things like Breaking Bad and Malcom in the Middle. Solid, right? Even more, on Saturday morning when I woke up, I turned on my TV and said, “Xbox, on”. When I stood up, the Kinect sensor recognized me and up popped on the screen, “Hello, Troy!” I love being able to switch between a game, app and/or TV all in one fell swoop. Fucking amazing.

As much as I’ve raved about the Xbox One’s user interface, I dislike how you can’t send someone on your friends list a voice message, not to mention the inability to incur friend request notifications (they are only added to your “followers” list without being told; nowhere to change this setting). Checking achievements and seeing what your friends are doing is a bit off the beaten path, but that’s alright, because I’m sure future updates/patches will be issued out by Microsoft.

Setting up my DirecTV receiver with the Xbox One was a fucking breeze. In about a minute, it was all setup and ready to roll. No complaints here.

Back in early July, I contemplated between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but I chose the Xbox One over the PlayStation 4 for a couple of reasons…

1.) Controller. The Xbox controller feels more natural in my hands than the PlayStation’s. The placement of the thumbsticks are perfect for shooters and the triggers are right up my ally. I have long fingers, and the Xbox One’s controller seems to be a better fit for people with hands like mine. I’ve just always preferred it to PlayStation’s.

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2.) Xbox Live and friends. I’ve known some of the people I have on my friends list since 2003-2004. These people didn’t even delete me off their friends list despite my inactivity these last 5-6 years of largely not giving a shit about gaming. I have history with these people, and I’m pretty damn inept with the core ability of letting go of people. I knew I just couldn’t sacrifice that.

3.) Halo. Ah, PlayStation? No Halo over there. Halo 2 (2004) is the greatest shooter ever made. Hands down. Halo 4 was a letdown overall (might have just been my lack of time or care to even bother playing it), but the series has always been a staple.

I don’t regret my choice at all.

(NOTE: I just wish the Xbox had a formidable baseball series like PlayStation has in MLB The Show. While MLB 2K used to be a solid franchise, it’s now pretty damn piss poor.)

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One thought on “The Xbox One, NBA 2K14 and the “MyGM” Mode with the Boston Celtics

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