NBA 2K14 Review (PS4)
Next-gen basketball is here, to (mostly) good results.
It’s tough to have any expectations coming into this new generation of consoles. Seven years ago we all had high expectations, and for sports gamers, it turned out to be arguably the biggest let down in the history of sports gaming. But this time it truly is different.
NBA 2K14, with its flaws, is ushering in a new generation of sports games.
But even more importantly, a sports game – yes, a sports game – is ushering the entire generation with graphics that can truly be considered next-gen. But a game isn’t defined by only what you see, as NBA 2K14 is also quick to let you know.
Gameplay is still very high end on next-gen consoles.
On the surface level, NBA 2K14 plays a lot like it did on PS3 and Xbox 360, so if you’ve played the series in the past few years you should be golden in terms of figuring your way around the court.
That’s not to say it’s identical. The new EcoMotion engine gives the game a more free-flow feel than it has had in the past, and makes the on-court action more realistic than ever before.
Momentum can be felt as you barrel your player into the paint, making it more of a commitment to drive the lane. It opens up your mind to develop a real strategy on how to beat your opponent, and depending on who and where you play, that strategy will need to be different and constantly changing.
Everything has become contested it seems, and gives you the feeling the same shot doesn’t happen twice. Pulling up for a quick jumper will have different animations and follow throughs depending on the defense and the release point of the jumper. Also, passing at the peak of the shot isn’t as lethal as it once was. If you get crazy with the ball, you’re going to turn it over and frustration will ensue.
Just remember, this is NBA 2K not NBA Jam. Even using the god-like LeBron “too much” will result in him losing control. I had a few flashbacks of Game 6 last season with LeBron’s back-to-back turnovers late in the game. I wasn’t the happiest gamer, but the fact that the game reminded me of a real-life situation in a past game says plenty of good about this game.
Some legacy bugs are back in the game.
I mentioned some minor bugs and glitches in my extended impressions two days ago but I’ll touch up on them again here, just for a moment.
The 2K bugs have returned, unfortunately. Morphing and clipping happens enough to make it noticeable, especially when you’re working some on-ball defense. AI teammates will stand in the wrong place at the wrong time, including out of bounds (this is my biggest gripe so far and is something that needs to be fixed as soon as possible).
It should also be noted that 2K is already working on the game’s second patch (the first was a day-one release). Whether or not the issues should have been ready to go out of the box, well that’s a different argument.
You'll sit around for a few minutes waiting for your name to be called in MyCareer.
MyCAREER is the new My Player, but with an added twist. Not only do you have everything you loved from the original My Player mode, you now have a full-fledged story to go along with it. 2K took this game mode and created a simulation of not just playing in the NBA, but living the NBA.
Cutscenes have been added, and in my opinion are the sole purpose that the mode feels like a storybook mode now. They keep you intrigued, guessing and excited. The best part of all, you forget the cutscenes are even there until one pops up. And when one does, you’ll put your controller down and lean back with a smirk as you watch your life in the NBA unfold.
The cutscenes may be a bit much for some people, and unfortunately 2K has omitted the ability to skip through them -- so if you want to pick up and play basketball this mode might leave you frustrated at times as you wait for cutscenes to finish.
Jackson Ellis is a name that you won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Ellis is your rival, someone you butt heads with starting at the Rookie Showcase. Your hatred of him will blossom much quick than you believe. I outplayed him in the showcase, but he was still drafted higher than me which made my personal temper flare a small bit. You will also have special goals when you meet him in a game. I lost a bet in our first NBA matchup: whoever scores less points has to give props to the winner on Twitter. Yeah, that was embarrassing.
From a gameplay standpoint, MyCAREER feels very much the same as My Player on the PS3 and 360. But with the god-like graphics of next-gen gaming (can we call it current gen yet?), it almost feels like you’re really playing a game of basketball. This mode is truly where the character models shine. Your mind will play a few tricks on you.
MyGM is a good mode, but does it truly replace association mode?
I’ve kept my hype tempered for My GM ever since 2K published its Developer Diary. In that diary, the closing paragraph said things like “we quickly realized that it’s going to take a number of years to fully realize everything we want to do in this mode” and “this is the start of something big.”
Ever since I read that full diary, I knew I couldn’t get my hopes up. I’m glad I didn’t.
In My GM you control everything throughout the organization. You set prices, sign players, upgrade facilities, etc. You do it all, even have the coach come ask you to set the rotation (Seems a bit overkill, but it’s still a video game!).
But those options aren’t what makes this mode exciting; it’s the conversation engine.
When you interact with players, owners, coaches, scouts, you will have to watch what you say to keep up your relationship with them. You don’t want to make your owner mad, or you won’t be allowed to have as much freedom within the team.
Also, you need to make choices that will have both positive and negative effects on the people you care about. Ricky Rubio and JJ Barea with both injured in my Minnesota campaign, so I needed to do something to add a reliable ball handler at point. Next thing I knew, Kevin Love showed up in my office telling me not to bring in anybody new, or it would screw up team chemistry. I bit the bullet and took losses instead of a new guard to appease Love. I don’t want him bolting for Los Angeles, though I know a producer would love it.
My GM is exactly what 2K says it is. A foundation of something big. Right now the mode isn’t anything to die for, but you get the sense of what it can be. Either way, this mode is worth your time considering it’s the only option for a multi-season Association.
Our experiences with online haven't been great, your mileage will vary.
The 2K servers are at it again, or it might be Sony and its PlayStation 4. When I’m not consistently connected to a very high-speed Internet (which has been my life the last few days), I can’t play much of anything in 2K. I can’t access MyCAREER or My GM because the 2K servers time out. That leaves you with nothing but Quick Game against the CPU, which has also been reported to not work well offline.
One feature that I was never able to access was The Park. The Park allows you to take your My Player to a giant playground with up to another 99 My Players. Here, you get to have pick-up games by choosing “who’s got next?” I’m not sure how much time I will spend here, because I’m curious to see if there is going to be any lasting appeal. It’s in wait-and-see mode.
I applaud 2K for building from the ground up with NBA 2K14. It was, and is, a smart move. But they left a lot of content from the PS3/360 version out of the new console’s versions.
There’s a lack of nearly everything, from hairstyles to tattoos to faces. Even smaller items such as the ability to change contracts has been removed, or at least not added in. It’s the small things like this that really confused me. I don’t understand why these things couldn’t be added in right away. It took them a few years to finally get the customization down perfect, but once they did it was awesome. Whenever you wanted to do something, you could do it.
Now, you’ll just hit a dead end a be like “whoa.”
NBA 2K14 is a great game on next-gen consoles.
NBA 2K14 is really missing something when it comes to customization. With a lack of that, the game modes take a big hit as well. 2K has always known for its fantastic Association Mode, and while MyGM is good, it doesn't adequately replace that mode just yet. It’s disappointing more so than gut-wrenching.
However, there are two things that make NBA 2K14 a great game: gameplay and graphics.
These graphics really add to the realism of NBA 2K14. It helps that the main gameplay features real people rather than fictional characters; it gives you a sense of watching TV. But seeing the players move so lifelike, and knowing it’s because of you is a feeling you should all experience. This game is beautiful.
The gameplay, despite those darned glitches, is what we’ve come to expect out of 2K: nothing but the best. These guys know exactly what they’re doing, and have set that foundation they talked about. This game is far from perfect, but it’s also the first next-gen iteration. This is a must-buy game for any sports gamer, and a must-buy for any true gamer.
Anyone who appreciates video games will appreciate NBA 2K14, even if they base it solely on those graphics.
Graphics: This is the best looking video game I have ever seen. Presentation is solid as well.
Audio: The commentary is what you expect from 2K.
Controls: Thanks to the EcoMotion, there’s a small learning curve for longtime 2Kers. If you’ve never played before, this game has a decent learning curve that really does take a little practice.
Online: I’ll wake up when the servers do the same.
SCORE: 8.5 (Great)
Scoring Note: An 8.5 (or great), is a score which signifies a game as largely a must-buy despite a few minor flaws. While the game isn't an all-time classic, the good far outweighs the bad. We debated a 9.0 for this game, but ultimately the lack of customization, the legacy gameplay issues, and the game modes all kept this game from being an all-timer. However, the foundation has been laid for greatness.