Review: NBA 2K14
Title: NBA 2K14
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, PSP (reviewed on Xbox 360/PC)
Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Sports
Price: $59.99 ($29.99 on PC) / £39.99
Release Date: October 1st, 2013
Tagline: Once again, the champ of basketball games returns to claim its throne, complete with King James in tow
Family Friendly: Click here for more information.
Verdict: Buy it Already
When it comes to an annual franchise, it can become a challenge to be different or improved from year to year. Worse still is when you have no competition, you are not pushed by others to make your game better with each entry in the series. Even with those two pressures, the NBA 2K series continues to impress each year, and is handsomely rewarded with huge sales. NBA 2K14 is no different, as it is a solid representation of on the court basketball. But does it push the entry to new points?
This year, Visual Concepts have worked hard to change the main criticisms of the previous games when it has come to gameplay. Gone are the easy layups up the middle or running around the edge using multiple picks as the game’s Ai plays good, solid defence. Now, it is more about playing the passing game and working players around to gain traction to the basket. It is not a major change from the last year to the current, but subtle changes that make big changes in the way you play the game on the offensive side of the ball.
These changes go into my favorite mode of the game which is MyCareer where you create a single player and migrate is play from the Rising Stars game, through the Draft and on to a full NBA career. With this you must earn your way into making the main lineup, answer tough questions from the media and more, with all of these playing into a percentage score of how your teammates, national fans and local fans think of you. Last year, a social media element was added to the game and this year they added social media challenges where an opposing player might make a challenge to you via Twitter. These challenges are not difficult, but could alter the way you play, like trying to get several boards, or hit so many shots. Make it and you get some bragging rights, but miss the mark and you will be the laughing stock of social media.
Other modes that can be found have been here before like the Association mode, both online and in solo play, along with online leagues, NBA Today games that can be jumped into and the second edition of the MyTeam mode. My Team mode is similar to the Ultimate Team mode that you might be familiar with when it comes to the EA Sports titles. You get a set of cards that unlock some lower tiered players and then you work your way to new players and cards to improve your team.
While the game is strong and the mechanics are solid, there are still a few anomalies that haunt the game, including things like AI players using flourish passes far too often, or throwing passes out of bounds when they clearly should not. Same things for goes for players stepping out of bounds. While I expect this to happen once or twice, it seems to come up at least a half dozen times, which is unheard of in a professional game. Granted, these are small issues, but they are issues that have persisted throughout the series, and it is a bit upsetting to see them in the game several years in after they first became a problem.
Another hole in the game is the lack of the Legends mode that started with the Jordan challenge in NBA 2K11. Instead of having all of these legends and all the cool presentation options that came with them, we instead get a two option career path for LeBron James called the Path to Greatness. Here you get the choice of either growing a dynasty in Miami or choosing to seek free agency where you end up in some crazy fantasy scenarios and talented players. It is an interesting look at the realistic choice LeBron has coming up here at the end of the 2013-14 season, but it is a bit lacking when compared to playing as Julius Erving, Jerry West or the great one, Michael Jordan. One has to assume younger fans relate to LeBron more than those old players, so that is probably where the change comes into play.
The series is also starting to show its age in the graphical department. While some players look very sharp, like the aforementioned LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and others, they do not have the crisp looking lines and realism that was found in the series a few years ago. Of course, a lot has been said about the next gen versions having new graphical engines for NBA 2K14, so it is likely that we just got the last gasps of breath out of the current engine for this generation. It is not that it looks bad, but it just feels a bit similar to previous versions.
As a whole though, NBA 2K14 does so much right that it is easy to recommend coming into this year from the previous entry in the series. It innovates with adding new mechanics and refining old ones while making the on the court game as fun as possible. Sure, it is starting to show its age a bit, but there really is no substitute for the greatness found in NBA 2K!4.
- Much improved defense, which makes scoring more tactical this year
- New control options add more finesse to passing and midrange jumpers
- The MyCareer mode continues to be the star of the show
- LeBron Path To Greatness Mode not as cool as the Legends Mode from previous titles
- Out of bounds and other procedural issues seem to happen to frequently
- Graphics engine starting to get a little long in the tooth
As with most sports games, NBA 2K14 is an easy one to recommend to gamers of all ages. The fact that the game will also teach you about the fundamentals of basketball which is great for those that are just learning the ropes of the game. Add this one to the list of family safe games.