Enough is enough.
For too long, playing against NBA superstars in NBA2K video games has been among the most arduous tasks an average gamer can even begin to contemplate. It's the sporting equivalent to fighting off an impossibly unbeatable "boss" at the end of a level.
You can fire 10 missiles at them, but they always have this really great armor that just gets marginally scuffed now and again.
NBA2K13's most elite players might not fair so well against repeated missile attack, but that doesn't mean they're to be taken lightly.
It's not true of every superstar either. It's always easier to contain shorter guards, and some stars just don't get much love from the programmers. There are a few, however, who immediately remind you that you're playing a video game–reality isn't this unkind.
Here are five superstars you'll definitely want to double-team when NBA2K13 comes out this October.
All I can say is that I'm really glad there's no way in the NBA2K franchise for Dwight Howard to do cheeky impersonations or talk about how happy he is to be in Los Angeles. If I had to deal with that after he just dunked on me 10 times and blocked 50,000 shots, I'd lose my mind.
The only saving grace in the past is that playing against Howard usually meant you were just playing against the Orlando Magic. Of course, Jason Richardson would improbably make eight threes or something, but it was still a pretty beatable team.
That will change for us all soon enough.
As much as Howard's trade to the Lakers changed the balance of power in the NBA, it's effect on the delicate competitive balance between video gamer and artificial intelligence will be felt for generations to come. Or anyway, it's a big deal.
Just don't be surprised when a lot of people click "Sim Game" when the Lakers come up on the schedule. That's assuming, of course, that a few of us actually hold out and abstain from making the Lakers our team.
That will probably be the first thing most people do after unwrapping the game. Who needs cheat codes when you can just play as the Lakers?
Yes, we all know Kevin Durant can score 50 points.
But why does he always seem to do it when playing against my team? I find myself stopping other big-time scorers like Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony, but I can forget about stopping Durant. If I hold him to a mediocre quarter, self-congratulations are in order.
It's almost as if he's programmed to miss three or four shots in a quarter just so you'll believe what's happening is realistic.
Then the impossible will happen, and nothing he shoots misses. KD is symptomatic of something we see a lot of in these games—the great shooters are really great shooters. They don't have off games or so-so games. They have amazing games over and over again.
It's not really humbling. It's just depressing. After witnessing someone like Durant effortlessly drop 50, you'll want to avoid all manner of video game frustration for a good week or so (which probably isn't a bad thing for all ye addicts out there).
It's hard enough as it is to keep your man from getting to the basket, but it's virtually impossible when LeBron James has the ball.
In some sense, sure, that's the way it is in real life too—but, come on!
The way James darts and explodes to the rim leaves me waiting for a streak of fire to appear behind him in homage to the absurd abilities depicted in everyone's arcade favorite, NBA Jam. LeBron does whatever he wants in this game, to the extent we should really think about banning any player ratings over 95.
And then there's the traveling.
Now maybe the programmers are making the point that, well, players like James get away with traveling in real life, so the game should be no different. But all I know is that there's step upon step of injustice when these guys get the ball in the paint and forget such a thing as dribbling even exists.
I know Dirk Nowitzki is a spectacular shooter and all, but the things he'll do in NBA2K13 will demand some kind of investigation.
He'll make every jump shot he takes, and he'll take a ton of them. Then, in another stroke of age-defying surrealism, Vince Carter will dunk on you from the free-throw line. This season won't be quite as frustrating as last year's game, because at least we won't have to watch Jason Kidd play like he's 30 years old again.
Yes, these old guys are better than we tend to give them credit for. Decreased production doesn't always mean anything—sometimes it's just a consequence of reduced minutes.
Nevertheless, Dirk is at the intersection of two especially troubled NBA2K tendencies: great shooters never missing and aging veterans playing the best ball of their lives.
The next time you play against Dirk, just count the times you find yourself muttering, "he wishes...," "it's not 2005 anymore...," "in Cuban's dreams," or perhaps something less G-rated.
Here's the thing about virtual Blake Griffin.
You could have three guys between him and the basket, all outside the restricted area, and he will jump right over them. You could put the San Francisco 49ers' defensive line between virtual Blake Griffin and the basket—all outside the restricted area, mind you—and he wouldn't even notice they were there. You could rebuild the Great Wall of China...
Well, you get the point.
Sure, the man has dunked over cars before, but let's be honest, it was a pretty small car.
And sure, even in real life, Griffin is implicitly granted permission to just push players in the face and climb over them as a means to his dunk.
But the things virtual Blake Griffin can do are unspeakable crimes against virtual humanity. You'll get to watch an impressively rendered animated dunk when it's all said and done, but then you'll feel really bad about yourself and question whether you're really meant for this whole video game thing after all.