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NBA 2K14 Review (PS4/Xbox One)

With the new-generation of consoles rolling around, it was very, very easy for players of sports games to be extremely sceptical of the first offerings on the new consoles. The scepticism is only present due to the debacle that was the last next-generation 7/8 years ago, when the build up to release showed so much promise from the sport games and ultimately led to one of the biggest deceits and disappointing release offerings to date, where the older generation games were better, more refined (and more complete) than those on the newer consoles.

In the build up to this release, publishers 2K Sports and developers Visual Concepts pulled out all the stops to deter the thoughts from circa 2005/2006 and have provided what seems to be a newly built game especially designed for the Xbox One and PS4. It could have been an easy move for them to port over the 360/PS3 version, give it some nicer looking graphics and then sell it at a higher price point, *cough* Madden NFL 25 *cough*. Instead, they have stripped back everything; game modes, gameplay, graphics, presentation…..I mean everything! Stripped them back to the core mechanics and rebuilt them to provide a wonderful and unique offering for the first iteration of next-gen 2K basketball.

The two big additions/changes to game modes this year is ‘MyGM’ and ‘MyCAREER’, formally known as The Association and ‘MyPlayer’ respectively. ‘MyGM’ takes the backbone of The Association mode and broadens the experience of being a General Manager in the NBA. As well as the usual responsibilities that we’ve seen in previous versions such as signing/trading/drafting players, setting rotations and player roles, hiring/firing staff (and playing the games, obviously), ‘MyGM’ has included a whole host of new responsibilities, actions and items to deal with. You now control almost all aspects of the day-to-day running of your organisation; setting ticket, merchandise and in-stadium stall prices, managing the owner’s expectations, dealing with player/staff opinions and matters, upgrading facilities, setting staff instructions, etc. (I could go on for ages listing the new features). I know that doesn’t sound all too fun and different but it’s the way that you complete these tasks that really brings this mode into its own and sets itself apart from anything before it. Almost all of the tasks are completed through a conversation engine that incorporates cut-scenes and in-engine footage of yourself and other players/staff members/general managers/etc. You have to be careful with what you say to certain people as responses to questions posed to you can have either a positive or negative trust/morale effect for those people in question. Choose to blame the owner over you recent poor run of form? Expect to be called in for a meeting, reprimanded and given less creative control. With this being only the first year of ‘MyGM’, the possibilities are endless when you think of the additions and changes that 2K can make for the years to come.

As for ‘MyCAREER’, it is still everything that you knew and loved from ‘MyPlayer’, and is arguably one the best features in any basketball……well, any sports game to date. The team at Visual Concepts have taken ‘MyPlayer’ and incorporated a story to it as well, making you live the life of an NBA player as well as playing in one of the biggest leagues in the world. Starting from a rookie taking part in the ‘Rookie Showcase’ at Madison Square Garden in New York City, to entering the 2014 NBA Draft and embarking on your career, the mode does a fantastic job of setting the scene and the mood by using cut scenes, scenarios and conversation opportunities similar to those in ‘MyGM’ mode. 

Throughout your ‘MyCAREER’, one name that you’ll learn to hate is Jackson Ellis. Right from the off he is pitted as your long-time rival, a guy who has roughly the same draft stock as you, plays the same position as you and has the same ambitions as you. You’ll encounter him throughout your career and it’s entirely up to you how you deal with him, as well as the rest of your team and the league. Just remember, whatever you say in conversation opportunities has an effect of everybody’s feelings towards you, so don’t go abusing your teammates to some press reporters and then expect to be passed the ball all too often for your next few games.

Other game modes that are returning are your standard ‘Play Now’, ‘Head-to-head’ and ‘MyTEAM’ (2K’s version of EA’s Ultimate Team), as well a new blacktop style mode known as ‘The Park’, which features street ball and pick-up games in 2v2, 3v3 and 5v5 formats, although I’ve really struggled to get this to work correctly but don’t worry, there is a patch incoming as I write this.

NBA 2K14’s bread-and-butter are its graphics. Quite frankly, they’re amazing. Whether it’s the player models, the courts, the lighting, the crowd, I mean hell, even the way the jerseys moved around on the player’s bodies looked so real that I was stunned. Honestly, it’s hard to put into words just how fantastic it looks. In full speed, someone who glanced at your screen could be forgiven for thinking that it was a live NBA game you were watching, not in fact a video game. Some of the players look so real, I feel like I could reach out and actually touch James Harden’s beard……but then again, that would be kind of weird. I know some of the other launch titles such as Ryse and Forza are probably considered the more graphically profound of the launch games, but seriously, my vote goes for NBA 2K14.

The on-court mechanics and gameplay play extremely similar to the 360/PS3 version, left-stick control player movement and the right-stick controlling the ball movement. I am a bit bemused though at the choice to remove the shot modifier from the left trigger (it had to be held down in order to make a shot with the right thumb stick as that stick also controls ball movement/skill moves) and replace it with the control to make ‘Flash Passes’ e.g. No-look passes, behind the back passes. Now when making skill moves, if you hold down the right stick for a fraction too long, the player will enter the shooting motion instead of, say, doing a spin or a crossover. It’s a bit frustrating at times and does take a lot of getting used to. The players on the court feel different to previous versions thanks to the new EcoMotion feature, giving a more realistic flow to the games. The AI is better than ever. It’s clever and quick to adapt to your strategies on offence and defence in order to find a way through, unless of course you’re playing against the Utah Jazz…….yeah, they suck really, really bad. 

There are still one or two frustrations with the gameplay, with my biggest peeve being the other players on your team. They often don’t set screens properly in a pick-and-roll, sometimes forcing you to reset two or three times until they eventually get it right, and as for defence, well, sometimes it’s great and other times it makes Amar’e Stoudemire’s defence look like the best in the world. (If you don’t get that reference than just google his name + defence and it should be the first YouTube video that comes up vs. the Detroit Pistons, sit back, relax and enjoy).

The presentation hasn’t really changed all that much from last year. It’s still the same commentary team that we all love, but if anything, they seem to repeat themselves even more this year. Whether that’s just a bug or not, I’m not sure. One great addition to the presentation are the on-court interviews. These often take place either at half-time or after the final buzzer and usually include either a star player or the coach of one of the teams. The amazing thing about it is that the audio you hear coming from the player/coach is real-life recorded audio from interviews that they actually gave on court during last year’s NBA season. They sound great and fit in seamlessly; it’s another little addition that brings the game to the brink of reality.

All-in-all, NBA 2K14 is the finest basketball game that I’ve ever laid my hands on. Already I’ve spent hours playing it and the fun and enjoyment that it provides doesn’t look to ever dwindle. After the last next-generation launch fiasco, it’s nice to be able to proudly show off a launch-day sports title that is possibly leading the way, not just in the sports game genre, but in all games, thanks to its visuals and gameplay. It’s a fantastic start on a fresh new series of consoles and it’ll be interesting to see where 2K take it from here. Oh, and by the way, if you’re thinking of picking up EA Sports’ NBA Live 14 over this…..don’t. Trust me, just don’t.

Words by James Grantham.
@JamesGrantham26 | PSN/Xbox LIVE: Redskins2336

(Version Tested: PS4/Xbox One)


+ Looks amazing
+ EcoMotion brings better on court action
+ Bigger and better MyGM/MyCAREER modes


- Teammate AI is still a bit patchy at times

Edited On 29 Nov, 2013

( 2 )
Anonymous user's avatar
MIKAEL 3 years ago
NBA live sucks !! Even compare to NBA 2k 13 on Xbox 360....
Dead's avatar
Dead 3 years ago
I'm beginning to think turniphead works for EA, would explain a lot.

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