LOS ANGELES (AP) — “NBA 2K16″ will be a Spike Lee joint.
2K Games announced Thursday that it recruited the acclaimed filmmaker — and die-hard New York Knicks fan — to write and direct the single-player campaign for the interactive basketball franchise’s next edition.
What did it take for the creator of such landmark films as “Do the Right Thing” and “He Got Game” to sign on to produce a video game?
“They asked me,” Lee matter-of-factly noted during a recent phone interview from Chicago, where he’s in production on his next project, “Chiraq.”
Lee said the game’s story centers on a basketball player named Frequency Vibrations, whose personal exploits off the court are just as chaotic as the game on it.
“It’s about the trials and tribulations of life on a big stage with the money, fame, temptations, family members, the press, fans, all that stuff,” said Lee.
While the game is a basketball simulation at its heart, “NBA 2K” developer Visual Concepts has integrated cinematic elements into the single-player mode over the past five years. For the latest round, the gamemakers passed that task to Lee in hopes of achieving a slam dunk with gamers.
“It wasn’t a hard sell,” said Jeff Thomas, vice president of sports development at Visual Concepts. “Spike was really receptive when I first met with him. He actually said to us, ‘It’s about time I worked with 2K.’ He loves basketball, and this is a new frontier for him.”
The “Malcom X” and “She Hate Me” filmmaker focused on drawing out realistic performances from actors, whose voices and movements were all digitally recorded. Lee, whose teenage son Jackson is an avid gamer, said he actually felt liberated working on a motion-capture stage for the first time in his career.
“I didn’t really realize how quick it was going to be,” said Lee. “We didn’t have to do costumes, makeup or hair. We didn’t have to move props around. We didn’t have to move from location to location. Everything was just there.”
Despite the writer-director’s penchant for gritty storytelling, “NBA 2K16″ won’t