NBA 2K has been arguably the most successful basketball video game series ever made. developed by Visual Concepts and published by 2K Sports the teams that have worked on these video games have worked long and hard to bring fans a realistic, fun and intuitive experience to play with up to four friends locally and online. This year they have delivered once again with NBA 2K14 for current and next-gen consoles.
Unlike most sport games NBA 2K14 has layer of narrative, much surpassing its predecessors, in the MyCareer mode. This is where you get to design a player from scratch and take him and your team to the NBA playoffs with a chance to win it all. For basketball fans this allows you to live your wildest dreams of being in the NBA and dealing with situations as you yourself would handle them giving a dynamic experience throughout what seemingly could be a repetitive sport simulator.
MyCareer isn’t then only source of narrative, My GM (General Manger) mode has replaced the loved by all association mode where the player gets to play as their favourite NBA team and take them all the way to the finals while making realistic trades and managing players happiness on the team. In 2K14 this has been taken to the next level, now not only do you play as the team and control the roster, now you control ticket prices and are given goals by the owners of your team to meet every week making this experience all the more daunting and exciting. The developers of 2K14 have done an amazing job keeping what has always made these games fun and adding more serious elements for the hardcore, number crunching squares.
The gameplay mechanics of NBA 2K games get better every year without fail and now with power of Xbox One this has allowed for an experience never had before on a sports game. Every movement a player makes has been captured by hundreds of cameras and motion capture allowing each players unique styles to really come through in the game. This gives a real sense of reality spread across the screen when the ball goes up for the tip off. No more do you find your self slowly sliding of the court because your player is in the process of completing an animation. Everything from the referee to the players on the bench, the bodies of players and the ball all interact seamlessly together. Being a true fan, one of the first things I noticed was the shooting-styles of each player have really been mastered, they look and feel amazing, note that now defence plays a huge part on the offence of the opponent shooting mechanics and styles can be changed and strained with good hard defence rewarding players for putting those long hours in practicing defence.
The most noticeable change from any basketball game I’ve ever played is the graphics, thanks to the Xbox One’s amazing hardware this game looks fantastic! Every hair and every bead of sweat is visible in such high quality that when I first saw it I nearly burst into tears. The muscle definition and facial expressions are second to none of any game I have ever played. It is so exciting to see your favourite player and recognise him and his teammates straight away on appearance alone and in some cases even have their real voices play a part in some different modes within the game which has NEVER been done before in a 2K basketball game. This simply helps set this game apart from any competition in my mind. I’ve always felt simulation graphics are great when done well, but often they just aren’t up to par but 2K14 offers one of the best, visually pleasing experiences I’ve had since the “internet” has been available. In all seriousness this may be one of the best looking games on the console so far.
Interestingly enough Lebron James, Miami Heat small forward and arguably the best basketball player in the world right now has been allowed to select the sound track for this game, featuring artists such as; Eminem, Imagine Dragons, Gorillaz, Jay Z, Daft Punk and Phill Collins. It isn’t only the music that makes your ears tickle a little bit in this game, the crowd, the players even the feet squeaking on the hard floor all combines with music and the brilliant commentary by NBA legends Steve Kerr, Clark Kellogg and Kevin Harlan. The sound around the stadium has such depth when played on a good surround sound system you really do feel as if you were at the game which helps immerse you into the world of NBA. While your playing being able to hear the players calling out plays and names adds a whole level of realism that was never apparent in other 2K games quite as well as this one has. This gives you the feeling of real exclusivity like you can hear things that ordinary fans can’t which is a great additional element to the experience. And last but not least the way the players interact with the ball and the ball interacting with the hoop and net has never sounded so amazing I can’t help but screw my face up like I’ve just bitten into a ripe lemon when I hear Lebron slapping the ball into the stands after sprinting the length of the court to attack the ball with a chase down block and then pulling up for a jump-shot two feet from the three-point line as the buzzer sounds just to hear the net Swish.
There are plenty of key features that make this game great but for me with all games it’s the little things that matter. The fact that while navigating the quick game menu real life highlights that have happened throughout the week or even that day are being streamed to your console directly so you never miss a piece of the real life action whilst being busy with your own NBA career. 2K Real Voice needs another mention as star players and coaches have had the recordings from real life games pulled and imported into the game to put the proverbial “cherry” on the proverbial “top’ this really gives this title polish. Living rosters and dynamic stats have given NBA 2K14 a leg up in the competition since 2K11 but now players, teams, rosters even uniforms are updated as changes are made in real time meaning this game will never go out of date throughout the NBA season giving so much more replay value than other sports games.
To wrap up, as you have probably gathered I rate this game so very highly as, to me, it is the bench mark other sport franchises are trying to meet. NBA 2K14 will push the boundaries of a sport simulator like never before and leave you breathless when you witness the visual and playable differences from any other game you have played ever, in your whole life. Since sliced bread this game takes the cake… I need to stop using food analogies. I like food, but not as much as I love this game, whether you are a sports fan or not go and experience this game, the visuals alone will make you wonder how we’ve survived this long with out this beautiful piece of hardware called the Xbox One. Usually in this world you can’t have your cake and eat it, damn, but 2K14 is an exception. Blurring great visuals and amazing gameplay and even a great story I cannot give this game any lower than nine out of ten, what would have brought this game up to a ten for me would be if they had changed the MyCareers created players seemingly upperclass forced down to “straight-baller-bro” voice out and put in a few different options to choose from. However this is a minor detail that does not take a single cookie form the jar, here we go again, that is the overall experience 2k14 gives us. I know for an absolute fact if I could take one game to a desert island to play on a conveniently left console hooked up to a conveniently placed generator that emitted amazingly convenient and strong Wi-Fi signals, I would take NBA 2K14 for the Xbox One.