NBA 2K17: The Prelude – two hours well spent

2K has thrown a significant amount of cash at their NBA 2K series over the years, and the results are easy to see – the franchise has come leaps and bounds since last-gen, with 2K16 featuring a career mode created by Spike Lee. That alone was enough to make EA sit up and take note.

NBA 2K17 sees another franchise first – a free to download prelude, offering five full matches to play through. Set during an up-and-comers college years, it entails creating a character and picking a college to play for, with the final match giving the chance to play alongside Team USA.

Some surprisingly lengthy cut-scenes occur between matches, taking up roughly a quarter of the prelude’s two-hour (approx.) runtime. Pro tip: don’t try to skip them, because you’ll only end up back at the main menu.

This prelude quite obviously serves two purposes – to provide a taster of the full game by showing off this year’s new features, and to help introduce newcomers to the series. It succeeds at both, especially the latter. Although there is slight pressure to perform well – in order to gain plenty of upgrade tokens – there’s no major penalty for performing poorly. Your draft stock will dip, but you’re still able to play the next match on the agenda regardless.

There’s an exhaustive 10-minute tutorial as well, explaining the controls in a very relaxed manner while going up against some very lax competition. The fact that a lot of manoeuvres – including two and three-point throws – are mapped to the right analogue stick works far better than you may imagine.

The aforementioned upgrade tokens – used to boost attributes – carry over to the main game, thus providing a boost start. 2K obviously wants you to feel involved, possibly emotionally, with your handcrafted character in hope that you’ll open your wallet and pre-order. Only having a passing interest in the sport, we didn’t feel obliged to (NBA 2K16, last month’s PS Plus freebie, will suffice for us for now) but nevertheless NBA 2K17: The Prelude is a decent way to blow a couple of hours.

Still not sold? It has easy achievements. Really easy achievements.

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