All throughout my primary school years (elementary school for you North Americans) I had a very specific Saturday ritual.
First I would wake up early in the morning and get ready to go to basketball with my brother.
Basketball generally finished around lunchtime, this meant mum would take us straight to the fish and chip shop for you guessed it, fish and chips!
The final component to this ritual occurred while we would wait impatiently for our delicious battered fish to be made.
My brother and I had scoped out the corner shop down the road and found they sold all sorts of trading cards.
Everything from Pokemon to wrestling cards were sold there and my brother and I made it our goal to pester our mum every Saturday into buying us a brand new pack each.
Unfortunately, our pester power didn’t always work on our strong willed mother, but when it did we more often than not had our eyes set on the latest pack of football cards.
We were and still are huge sporting fanatics, which combined with the allure of the unknown, made these glossy packs of cards highly sought after.
We’d quickly pull them open with our stubby little fingers and go to work analysing each and every card we received. Agonising over getting yet another duplicate, or losing our young minds at the sight of a star player on a piece of cardboard.
This Saturday ritual is a big reason why today I am in love with NBA 2K15’s MyTeam mode and Madden’s Ultimate Team.
Falling in Love
I’m not entirely sure why it took my so long to get into these game modes.
I’m a frequent consumer of sports games, but through the many iterations of Fifa, NBA 2K and Madden I just always neglected it.
I found myself caught up in the more realistic career and season modes, until one day while playing NBA 2K14 it finally clicked.
I was fed up with the ultra repetitive MyCareer mode and had grown a little tired of The Association mode after my seventh season.
Curiosity finally got the better of me and I crossed the final frontier.
Immediately I was drawn in; the concept of buying packs of cards just appealed to me so much.
It appealed to so much so I immediately spent the thousands of VC I’d saved up on as many packs as possible.
You feel a strange amount of euphoria every time you go into the store, buy another pack and then flip over to see what five cards you’ve just received.
The excitement of seeing a brand new gold card, the frustration at getting yet another duplicate and the anger at getting your 50th post spin move attribute booster.
It’s exactly the same experience I had opening packs of cards when I was a kid.
It all adds up to the experience that is MyTeam.
Stack The Deck
The create your own super team aspect is also something I really love about MyTeam and Ultimate Team.
Going online to play teams combining Richard Sherman, John Elway and Calvin Johnson is a surreal experience, especially because you have a superstar arsenal of your own.
These superstar cards are the holy grail of this game mode and really do make for a fantastic goal to work towards when playing through countless challenges.
There’s nothing like playing someone head-to-head online and picking off an important pass with Richard Sherman because you’d saved enough coins to win a vicious battle in the auction house.
In 2K 14’s MyTeam, the teams you came up against were usually the same superstars which is a little disappointing.
With this years instalment they have continued to expand the game mode most notably through throwback cards which creates all sorts of different opportunities for new cards, and will hopefully increase the game’s diversity.
Variety Is The Spice of Life
What I love most of all about these game modes however, is there is so much to do which keeps me from ever getting bored with them.
In 2K15’s MyTeam mode there are five sets of challenges to complete, with weekly challenges also added in.
It also features a domination made which see’s you facing off against every NBA team, both All-Star teams and a special MyTeam team to go against.
To top it off their is the online based Road to the Playoffs mode which has you matching up against other players and their stacked teams.
Looking at Madden’s Ultimate Team, there is a plethora of content.
There are season challenges of multiple difficulties for each team, weekly Team of the Week challenges and special Coin Up challenges which give you a coin with a special condition which can be cashed in if it comes true.
If that isn’t enough for you, there is Head to Head Seasons which is similar to 2K’s Road to the Playoffs.
All of this content means I can jump from one thing to another if I ever get bored, a huge benefit over a MyCareer mode which simply can’t offer any real variation.
These card collecting modes are a juggernaut in today’s sport video game market, with Fifa, 2K and Madden all featuring pre-order bonus focused around these modes.
And you know what? I am ecstatic these game modes have had a meteoric rise to prominence.