NBA 2K14 – Game Analysis and Review
By Dan Maurer
Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Sports
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Release Dates: October 1, 2013 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows), November 15, 2013 (PlayStation 4), November 22, 2013 (Xbox One)
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
Visual Concepts has done a great job upon improving the 2K basketball games year after year. However, this year sees its first year of competition in quite a long time with the return of EA’s NBA series, so Visual Concepts felt the need to go big this year to “one-up” the competition. The big gamble paid off for them this year as NBA 2K14 is by far the best basketball game I have ever played. From top to bottom this title is loaded with content that will keep you hungry and keep you coming back for more.
To be the best you need to have the best, and at the front of NBA 2K14 is LeBron James, arguably the best active player in the NBA. Aside from just being on the cover, the major new mode this year just so happens to be “LeBron: Path to Greatness.” Seeing as LeBron is just entering the peak of his career, 2K and Visual Concepts has opted for an approach that’s quite the opposite from what we saw in NBA 2K12’s Jordan Challenge. Rather than relive King James’ biggest career moments as we did with Jordan, Path to Greatness lets you play out what could have been. The mode gives the option of staying with the Miami Heat and building a dynasty (the path he took when he made the infamous decision) or testing free-agent waters.
Opting for the latter results in LeBron signing with various teams and playing out your fantasy scenario. Both options result in some fantastic would-be scenarios. While it’s not as iconic as reliving some of Jordan’s greatest moments, it’s a fun look at what could have been. The majority of features in this years game are improvements to the core systems. While the lack of new modes is a bit of a letdown, Visual Concepts’ focus on polishing already stellar gameplay is much welcome. The result is one of the best basketball games you will ever play. Defense has been fine tuned, and your players now swarm the ball. No longer are fast breaks exploitable, and playing the ball doesn’t result in nearly as many fouls as before.
Blocking the ball from behind is also a great addition. Offensive related, new controls allow for some new features which include no-look and cross-court passes with Path Assist. By holding LT(360) or R2 (PS3) and tapping the right stick in the direction you want to pass, you can pull off highlight-worthy plays. Just be warned, as ill-advised pass attempts can easily become turnovers. Once again however the controls have been altered so now shooting is handled with the right stick and the left stick dictates where you pass. While frustrating at first to once again have to learn a new control scheme, the new changes are welcome and refreshing.
It goes without saying that this year’s game is the best looking one yet. This is coming from a play through of the current generation version so I can only imagine how gorgeous the next gen versions will be later this year. The crowd is more detailed and lively this year, which creates for a better overall experience. Player models are detailed and almost perfect (right up to even having LeBron’s receding hairline intact). There’s not much more that can be said about the graphics of this title besides it is by far the best looking one yet on the current generation consoles, those looking for the maximum graphics package will have to wait until the next gen versions arrive next month for PS4 and Xbox One.
The commentary team for this year’s game is top notch. Everything sounds crisp and the team does a wonderful job of conveying the experience of what is going on in the game to you. The online portion of NBA 2K14 is also top notch and a great experience. Playing with human players online is much more fun than playing with the computer just simply for the fact that the human player is more often the one to make mistakes, thus creating a more realistic experience. The online lobbies are lag-free for the most part and games are aplenty to be found online. Out of the multiple games I played online, not one was ever an issue. Overall again, Visual Concepts and 2K have done an excellent job of putting together a complete package and experience online and offline.
If you had to get one basketball game this year, please make it NBA 2K14 if you can. While the returning basketball series from EA will pose a threat eventually to the throne of 2K’s juggernaut, its safe to say this will be the best basketball game you will play for quite some time.
PunchDrunkGamer Score: 9.5 out of 10
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