I am not a fan of basketball. When it comes to sports, it is on the bottom of my list of things I enjoy to watch. Still I have always been a fan of the games, much like how I love a good baseball game. When I got tasked with reviewing this year’s NBA 2K entry I had no idea what to expect. The games have always played extremely well, but I was always intimidated by their realism and bevy of options. Even as a novice to the series, NBA 2K14 delivers one of the most exciting and fun-to-play games out there. It makes me yearn for this team to get back in the NFL game.
This year’s game focuses heavily on Lebron James; in fact it even has a dedicated mode called Lebron: Path to Greatness. This sort of career mode allows players to step into the shoes of James, and decide whether to pursue a dynasty in Miami, or test free agency waters. The latter is much more exciting as it took me on a series of trades with other teams, eventually leading me back to Cleveland, where Lebron began his career.
This mode is a lot of fun, and really interesting if you are a fan of James. While it isn’t as exciting as past entries, like allowing me to jump into the shoes of Jordan during his pinnacle moments, what is weird is how focused it is. It almost feels awkward, especially to someone like me. As if there is once again only one player that matters in the NBA. One strange note, I couldn’t save mid-game during this mode unlike the rest of the game, which just seems odd.
The first thing that jumps out at me with NBA 2K14 is its presentation. From the opening ceremony, to signature player shooting, it nails the look and feel of the NBA. Player faces are uncanny, and the real-time promotions for upcoming games featuring in-game assets are impressive. This carries over to every single aspect. The commentary is the best I have heard in years in a sports game. Their detail to the on-court action is amazing. Nothing about the way the game is presented disappoints. It may be cliché to talk about being hard to decipher between watching a broadcast and playing a game, but this one nearly nailed it.
The visuals are equally impressive. I have seen the next gen versions of 2K14, and they look amazing, but this entry is no slouch. For a franchise that is pounding away on its eighth iteration on this hardware cycle, the team at Visual Concepts is still managing to squeeze out a lot of detail from these machines. Sure there are still awkward moments where the camera showcases a stiff model, or a flat crowd, but for the most part, this game looks simply amazing considering the hardware.
The on-court action is just as smooth as the visuals. 2K has returned to the stick controls this time around. Being able to perform all moves from the stick takes some getting used to, but once I nailed it down, I didn’t want to use the buttons anymore. Some actions can be done with the buttons, but they are limited. I am also a fan of the play-calling. Simply tapping the d-pad allows me to change offense and defense on-the-fly. There is so much depth to the action, yet it all feels so intuitive, which makes learning how to play that much more enjoyable.
Jumping into a game was easy. Once I booted up the disc I was presented with a quick match option to just play. Once I opened the menus I had access to all the features and modes. I am still not a fan of the menu system. It feels overly clunky and confusing until I learned where everything was.
Online modes also return including the popular Association mode. Sadly all of these features are relatively unchanged from last year. In fact the only difference is the removal of Dream Team, which from what I have heard was pretty interesting. Sadly this is one area where it feels like things were left out due to having to focus on bringing the series to next generation consoles.
There is so much to see and do in NBA 2K14 it can feel overwhelming for someone like me who isn’t a huge fan of the sport. The sheer attention to detail and ease of use though really drew me into the experience. The Lebron story mode is a novel idea, and the presentation is simply awe-inspiring. I can only hope that this series continues to evolve and thrive down the line, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next gen versions when they hit this November. It may be the only game in town (right now), but NBA 2K14 is head and shoulders above just about any other sports game on the market.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.