It seems every generation brings that one game that showcases what the hardware is really capable of. Last time around, Fight Night delivered some of the most realistic player models I had ever seen. Now, with these new consoles, a sports game is once again showcasing the power of Xbox One and PlayStation 4. NBA 2K14 is a technical marvel that can be used to show friends just how much they want a new console, but it doesn’t stop there. For those that love basketball, this is also a really well constructed experience.
I reviewed the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game already. If you want to read that, feel free to check it out here. This review will focus on what is new (and removed) from this particular version.
The most important thing to note is that these versions play just as well as their counterparts. The right stick analog controls for shooting and ball moves are still super effective once I got over the learning curve. The AI is also top-tier featuring realistic reactions from players, and some truly challenging defense. Of course if you are like me and have very little knowledge of the game, sliders can adjust to make it more competitive (i.e. easier). The most important thing is I never felt like the game was being cheap. When I was down by ten points, it was usually because of my want to take constant shots from three-point land.
While the game play remains intact, some of the features are mysteriously omitted. Probably the most glaring is the removal of the story mode, which focused on LeBron James. Sure it was vain and a bit unsettling, but it was also unlike anything else. Its removal is a weird design choice. Some other modes have also been overhauled, making this feel almost like a half-step in the generational leap. Usually we only get solid visuals or entire feature sets. Here it is a little bit of both.
The biggest addition to this version has to be the MyPlayer mode. Essentially taking precedence over the story mode, this allows players to create a custom baller, and then guide them through their NBA career. For this outing 2K has added a ton of diversity including branching story paths and in-game challenges. It is easily the best mode available. I loved how in-depth it was, even featuring a rivalry that spans the entire career as well as being able to choose what kind of player to be. I could let the success go to my head and only focus on myself, or choose to be a leader and team player.
The storyline doesn’t exactly rival Hoosiers or anything, but it gets the job done. This is where I spent the bulk of my time with NBA 2K14.
MyGM also received some upgrades, making it feel more like an experience than a math problem. Players can now feel more connected to their virtual mogul by interacting with other managers and even the owner. Of course, the bulk of my time was spent doing inane tasks such as managing contracts and dealing with players, but that is the life of a GM. If that sounds even remotely appealing to you, 2K has done a nice job of streamlining the experience; even more so than in the original version.
Of course, I can’t talk about NBA 2K14 without mentioning its visuals. This game is gorgeous. 2K has gone and scanned a large portion of the NBA player’s facial models to make for the most realistic expressions and likeness. Seeing some of these players up close is eerie at times. They also animate almost flawlessly. Watching players interact with one another is easy to mistake for the real thing at times. It is that pretty. Presentation is equally stellar with the same solid commentary and crowd noise is deafening. This is the game I want to show friends when they ask about next-gen.
For those that already dipped into the 2K14 sauce, this upgrade feels a bit stripped down in some areas. Still it has that next generation look and feel that is impossible to ignore. For those that haven’t already jumped in, it is a no-brainer. This game is a must-have for fans of the NBA, and even for some that are not. It gets me really excited to see where all these teams are next year with their engines, and it showcases a bright spot for the future of the genre.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.