NBA 2K16 Review

So, another year of the sporting calendar comes by and along with it our annual release of sports games. To some gamers sports games are a non-event. However, to those gamers that love sports, the feeling of victory and the ability to live out their dreams that are unachievable in reality, this is a very important time of year! The greatest problem with a yearly release schedule is that some titles new releases resemble a roster update more than a new experience, not nearly worth a premium price tag. The NBA 2k series has always tried its best to bring something new, along with improvements on what has been a solid series. The question is, can NBA 2K16 evolve the game far enough to warrant a full price purchase?

The main game modes return in all their glory. I have to hand it to the 2K team, there are more modes here than Lebron flops in playoffs! My Team, My Career, My GM, My League and My Park modes all return with much growth within each. There is also a new mode in Play Now Online which makes single PvP games become more significant than ever before. There are ten different league tiers, win and you progress toward the next tier, lose and you regress. Before a game you are presented with a scouting report which informs you of your opponent’s strengths, weaknesses and tendencies. The teams are also divided into three tiers and winning against a higher tier team gives you more progression points. Progress through to the higher leagues and the teams change from current rosters to the greatest teams throughout history, this is well worth your time investment and an awesome reward. There is also a new mode titled Pro Am. This is designed to create a team with four friends. There are also walk on games, however as I played this game before official release and my PSN buddies did not have it, I have not tried the mode. I did attempt a random walk on but we the match maker only found eight of the required ten ballers.

My Career sees a dramatic change with you taking part in a Spike Lee directed fictional documentary staring your player as he rises from the poverty of Harlem, chooses a high school (one of three), moves on to his choice of college (one of eleven) and moving into the NBA draft and its riches. The story is short though with three games of high school, four games of college and eight rookie year games in the NBA being involved. The story is a little predictable and gives you the feeling of choices being given to you, then taken away resulting in a linear affair that showed some promise but failed. There is the situation of sitting with an agent and family in a discussion of choice to nominate for the draft or stay in college. I would have stayed for another year as I was predicted to hit late lottery, however there is no choice, the story leads you by the hand. Also there seems to be no way in winning rookie of the year this time, with eight games and little court time on offer. It felt light and perhaps should have been an option other than career mode instead of wasting a year of your career.

The My Team, My League and My GM modes are great this year. They give you complete control of your team including relocating cities, new team names, emblems and uniforms. You can upload any picture (that passes a screening) to use as your logo and on your uniforms and court. The depth of customisation is immense. In My Team a new game mode is introduced in Gauntlet. Here you choose a player form your collection and he is partnered with two randomly selected players. A three on three game follows and if victorious you take a pick from a board of cards, these choices are your prize. It is similar to the card based app ran over the last few years on Apple and Android, and is quite an addictive mode, the more wins you string together the greater the prizes.

Overall the game looks shinier, prettier, and smoother than last year’s outing. The cut scenes in the story/career mode though are very average. Sound is great with the usual rnb and rap style tracks beating away, although the players shouting “ball, ball, ball” continuously grates. The gameplay is improved in the best way possible. Finally, we see hand check steals return, our player no longer lunges half way across the screen to try and steal a ball 20cms away from him. This has been a hate of mine since NBA 2K12 and I am super pleased to see it finally fixed. In fact, the defence is much, much better all-round this year. No longer do you simply run in circles to get an open shot, attempt and expect a steal. The AI seems much smarter, and it feels like it adapts to your style making a much greater challenge. My hat is off to 2K, they seem to have fixed my major gripes of last year! One thing that I didn’t like, but now love is a few tweaks to the controls and switching of buttons. Triangle which previously posted up your player, back to the rim, now is the alleyoop button. L2 Now posts and when released your player’s spins back to a face up position, this is much better, except for my first 30 alleyoops that went nowhere from trying to post.

Last year I felt that NBA 2k15 fell a little flat, much like my injury ravaged Pacers in the real world. The game play seemed to show little improvement, the servers were again horrendous and overall improvements on the quite excellent NBA 2K14 seemed minimal. It was rather disappointing. NBA Live made great in bounds (although NBA Live 14 was horrendous) leaving me thinking that this year may see 2K’s hold as king of the court slip. How wrong I was! The improvements and additions this year are as vast as they are wonderful! This is possibly the most complete sports sim ever produced. It is still not perfection but it is the closest the series has come to it. Now excuse me while I go and posterize some playaz that think they got skillz.

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