For several years, Visual Concept’s NBA 2K series has been leading the charge for basketball games. With EA’s NBA Live series no where to be seen for the last few years, the folks at 2K have seized the opportunity with both hands. Last year’s NBA 2K13 was one of the best basketball games ever made and set a new landmark in sports video games. Its successor NBA 2K14 features many improvements; however, much of its content is recycled from last year’s installment which may put off veteran players.
The core mechanics of basketball are tight as ever in NBA 2K14 and with the addition of ‘Shot Stick’, it becomes even better. With the flick of the right analog stick along with the correct direction and combination, you open up new possibilities for shots. This makes sure that the core gameplay has no major faults with fast breaks, play calling, dribbling and defense feeling fluid and fun when executed correctly.
Players who have played and are well versed with last year’s installment should feel right at home but newcomers to the series may have a hard time in NBA 2K14. There is no doubt that there is a bit of a tough learning curve to be found in the game and some players may struggle with the controls, at least initially. To add insult to injury, the game’s inbuilt tutorial does not really do a modest job. Some players may find some moves pretty difficult to execute and it goes without saying you need ten odd matches or so to get a hang of it.
" The player animations, A.I. and movements are more refined compared to NBA 2K13."
The newest addition to this year’s installment is the ‘LeBron Path To Greatness’ mode wherein you take control of Miami Heat. This mode further gives the player the option to either go through the career of James LeBron or take a dive into his fictional future. Both of these modes pit the player against certain objectives which are intriguing enough. Certain objectives will put you in situations wherein one of your best player in the team may be down due to injury and it is up to LeBron to score those crucial baskets whereas others will put you in a dicey scenario where you need to become the player of the match.
During the course of your playthrough you will be awarded with stars, which are an indication of how well you have performed in a particular scenario. Both the modes have the same objective of winning five more NBA titles and surpassing the great Michael Jordan. You can also view your score on the online leaderboards which will help judge yourself on how good you are in taking control of the world’s most popular basketball player of today.
Unfortunately, apart from ‘LeBron Path To Greatness’, Visual Concepts have not added anything different compared to NBA 2K13. MyPlayer and MyCareer returns once again and for the most part they are pretty much similar. The lack of Jordan Challenge, Dream Teams and Legends is a bit baffling. The Association mode from last year also remains the same. I agree that the developer sort of made up for the lack of Dream Team by replacing them with the Euroleague teams but they could have included something better, say the USA Olympic Teams for instance.
"There is no doubt that there is a bit of a tough learning curve to be found in the game and some players may struggle with the controls, at least initially."
NBA 2K14 does a tremendous job of representing the game in the most realistic manner as current gen console technology could allow. There are in depth previews of upcoming matches backed by some of the best professional commentary from the trio of Kevin Harlan, Clark Kellogg and Steve Kerr. Also add in Doris Burke as a sideline reporter and you have the most authentic commentary team in video games. Unlike other sports games which have static commentary, Visual Concepts have upped the ante by adding a sense of dynamism. Featuring over 50 hours of recorded commentary, it never fails to call the action.
The graphics of the game remains largely the same. The player animations, A.I. and movements are more refined compared to NBA 2K13. Add to that the excellent soundtrack by the likes of John Legend ft. Rick Ross and Jay Z and an engaging on-court experience, and NBA 2K14 is able to fire all cylinders in bringing that original basketball game to your TV. However there are few niggles that I found to be bothersome. The menu and the user interface look pretty cluttered and I often found myself meddling with menus and sub-menus. Bringing up the main menu using the right analog stick is pretty annoying and I am not really sure why Visual Concepts opted for such a layout.
If you can ignore these minor annoyances, then NBA 2K14 is well worth your time. The on-court experience is second to none and if you are a newcomer to the series and are the patient type, then there is a lot of gameplay on offer here. Overall, NBA 2K14 is an amazing recreation of the sport and even though some might call it a missed opportunity, it does justice to the game. Given that EA’s NBA Live 14 isn’t releasing anytime soon, NBA 2K14 might be your only choice for an authentic basketball experience; and thankfully, it’s a good one.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
LeBron James’ ‘Path To Greatness’ scenarios are intriguing. One of the best soundtracks in the series and excellent commentary. Core gamelay mechanics feel tight.
Tough learning curve. Awkward UI and menus. A lot of content recycled from last year.