October 22, 2021

NBA 2K22 brings every arena’s real-life PA announcer into the game – Polygon

NBA 2K22’s audio presentation will feature all 30 of the NBA’s real-life arena public-address announcers — these are the folks who fire up the crowd with spotlight introductions of the starting lineup, ceremonies that have become as memorable as the superstars themselves.

Visual Concepts and 2K Sports announced the feature on Wednesday, naming mic men Matt Cord of the Philadelphia 76ers and Mike Walczewski of the New York Knicks among the 30 lending their voices to the game.

“After last year, I think we all have a renewed appreciation for the noise and cheers that fill an NBA arena each night,” Walczewski said in a statement. “With the style and enthusiasm of every team’s PA announcer now in the game, I truly feel that NBA 2K22 players will experience the thrill and the drama of stepping onto their home-court firsthand.”

These guys are doing more than the introductions, of course; they’re providing the usual break-ins for game events like timeouts, turnovers, 3-point baskets, and the like. As we see with Walczewski calling a John Starks (!!!) three, and Tommy Edwards crediting Michael Jordan with two points on a dunk, they’ll do it for players from the game’s roster of all-time greats, too.

And that raises an interesting question, where we’re left to read between the lines for the answer. Edwards was the PA announcer for Chicago Stadium from 1976 to 1990. He is not the guy who introduced Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, et al. to The Alan Parsons Project’s “Sirius.” That’s Ray Clay, whom the Bulls, uh, fired in 2002. Apparently, that acrimony still lingers. (For what it’s worth, Clay was heard in the introductory sequence of NBA 2K12, still a landmark work in sports video gaming).

But Lawrence Tanter, the Los Angeles Lakers’ voice going back to 1981 and the Great Western Forum, is here to present LeBron James (and, one assumes, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant, too). Portland’s Mark Mason bids you greetings to Rip City. And dig that emphatic fist from Minnesota’s Shawn Parker! He can’t help himself. Stick a mic in front of these guys and it is game time, whether that’s at the Target Center or in a recording booth in Novato, California.

What I want to know, and what I guess we won’t find out until NBA 2K22 launches — holy smokes, Sept. 10! Man, did that sneak up on me — I’m curious how the game will handle situations in which superstar players routinely show up for completely different teams, not to mention how created stars in the MyCareer mode will figure into the introductions. Did all of these PA announcers record all of the first and last names in the NBA 2K dialogue library? Did they do it twice — once with enthusiasm, and another time as if they were introducing an opposing player?

The statement Wednesday from 2K Sports didn’t get into that level of detail, but I absolutely would not put it past Visual Concepts to go that far. Little details and extra-mile steps like this are how that studio has kept NBA 2K’s broadcast presentation a cut above every other sports video game for well more than a decade. And it shows Visual Concepts’ peers that there still are eye-catching innovations and new inclusions to be found in a very mature, very iterative genre like licensed sports games.

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