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NBA 2K14 Review

NBA 2K14

Release: 01/10/2013
Publisher: 2K Sports
Developer: Visual Concepts
Genre: Sport
PEGI: E
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8.0 - Gameplay
          
 
8.0 - Video
          
 
9.0 - Audio
          
 

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NBA 2K14 Review – Introduction

While EA has cornered the market on NFL games (by default, really), 2K has appeared to do the same with NBA sports simulations. While publisher Take-Two Interactive has been accused of just releasing roster updates with these annual releases, their series has been known to take risks and tweak major gameplay elements on occasion. NBA 2K14 continues this tradition to a degree, but it’s not as crafted and accessible as it should be.

(Slightly) More Than a Roster Update

Veterans of the series will instantly notice the revamped controls. This may be disheartening to some that they’ll have to relearn them, but in the end I think the game is better for it, more or less. The different kinds of shots, like floaters and step-backs, are easier to pull off, not to mention signature skills, cross-overs and off-ball movement.

Old fans have the advantage here, so newcomers should expect to do a lot of practicing

Naturally, stats play a role in just how well these moves can be pulled off, so don’t expect to pull off acrobatic stunts easily with players that have a low rating. The AI is better this time around, too, which means the defense clogs the paint more often, goes for more steals by hovering in the passing lanes, and is just more aggressive in almost every way.

All of this is made even better with the latest animations and touched-up visuals. They’re not going to max-out graphics cards, but the textures appear to be smoother, and player motions are a little more life-like. However, faces are still a little dopey looking, and the crowd jitters awkwardly and isn’t that lively.

Not For Rookies

There are some issues with these new mechanics, however. The 2K games have never been good at tutorializing, and here it’s no different. The Training Camp option teaches the basics of the Xs and Os, but it skips on details that could be more beneficial, especially when it comes to running plays. Old fans have the advantage here, so newcomers should expect to do a lot of practicing.

Despite the fact the AI defense has been improved and isn’t as easily exploited, problems from prior entries can still be found, though they’re not as bad. CPU teammates don’t always help out when they should, and sometimes they clump together, or get in the way when chasing after the ball-handler. It’s still tricky to get in position to take a charge (humorously, the “flopping” ability introduced in 2K13 makes a return), and timing jumps for blocks and rebounds has a slight delay that takes some getting used to.

 

I’ve noticed a lot more scrambling for loose balls, players tipping rebounds, and better collision detection in 2K14, which greatly adds to the realism and makes the action appear more like an actual NBA game. However, controlling the player is a touch too weighted, and it’s relatively easy to stumble around while changing direction, or even fall flat by tripping over someone’s foot.

King James Version

The longtime developers of the 2K franchise, Visual Concepts, are keen to introduce a new gameplay mode with each release. This time, it’s LeBron James that gets the love with “Path to Greatness”. Here, it’s possible to select from two different roads that determine Lebron’s future with the Miami Heat, playing in key games that require various goals to be met. As a big-time NBA junkie, I found this to be fairly engaging, since just like most fans I’m curious if LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will stick together.

The overall presentation is still fascinating

Other than this journey with LeBron, pretty much all the other game modes, like MyCareer and The Association, are still present, though disappointingly not much has changed. Association is still a rote management sim with a confusing mess of menus, and MyCareer is still the same character-creation basketball RPG that’s only fun when playing as point-guard, since they can rack up the most skill points by running the offense.

Multiplayer Madness

Online is still the fun albeit laggy experience it has always been. Matchmaking can be a little slow, but I was able to play for a few hours (surprisingly, a decent amount of folks play on PC), and I was only dropped from a couple of matches. There are some hiccups in framerate to go along with the moderate server lag, but it’s completely playable and still one of the game’s best features. Crews have made a return, as well, which should please those that missed them the past two years.

The overall presentation is still fascinating, and gets the job done in terms of recreating an NBA TV broadcast. The commentators offer some great banter and insight, and most everything that occurs during a game gets a mention. These reactions aren’t perfect, though, and sometimes what they’re saying isn’t reflected; it’s rather funny to hear them remark that “the fans are heading for the exits” during a blow-out when everyone in the stands is clearly visible.

Conclusion

2K14 is essentially what’s to be expected out of a new sports game, for better : new lineups, new modes, and some alterations here and there to keep things fresh. That being said, some more spit-shining and tighter controls would have been appreciated, and better takes on old gameplay options that by now have grown stale. This is a good game, and the series continues to be tops in basketball sims, but I don’t think fans should give up their copy of 2K13 just yet.

Positives

  • Mostly better controls
  • Path to Greatness is an interesting concept
  • Decent multiplayer
  • New animations are a treat to watch

Negatives

  • Another new set of controls to learn
  • AI still needs work
  • Nothing truly new, just tweaks or subtle changes
  • Insufficient tutorials
 

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