There are two bigs reasons why 2K Sports could get away with being lazy with their NBA franchise. Their last few installments were extremely well received, and there hasn’t been any competition from the NBA Live front either. Because of this, we took the courts with the 2K14 edition curious to see if we were in for more than just an annual update. Luckily, we were…
As we discussed in our preview, NBA 2K14 features “LeBron’s path to greatness” as a new career-oriented mode that is similar in nature to what 2K did with Michael Jordan a few years ago. Using a currently active player like LeBron James gives 2K the chance to explore all kinds of hypotheticals in this mode, and it’s fun to see how his career might play out based on different scenarios. James might stay with the Heat and build a legacy there like Kobe Bryant did with the Lakers, or he might opt for a lucrative transfer at the end of his contract. This makes for all kinds of possible matchups we haven’t yet seen, and 2K’s execution makes sure it’s all delivered with style.
The game’s presentation, from the graphics right down to the little crowd noises and sound effects, is top notch. Even in the hypothetical situations described above, the commentary changes to fit the occasion. A worthy swan song to the current generation of basketball games, 2K seems to have managed to squeeze every last drop of potential out of the game in this regard. The changes are in the details, but 2K has used new compression techiques to allow then to include tons of new animations into the game while still fitting with the space limitations of the X360.
Gameplay mechanics have undergone subtle changes as well, mainly in terms of ball handling. Using the “Assist Pass”, you can pull off the type of no-look passes that we remember from Larry Bird’s highlight reels. It allows you to break the flow of an attack in unexpected ways, bringing an element of surprise to your buildup or fast break that is noticeable and refreshing. In addition to this, the shot stick has also evolved to allow for more moves and control than it did in the past, giving you the option to pull off a ton of dribble moves using the right thumb stick.
We pointed out in our preview that NBA 2K14 also features several top European teams as well as the corresponding set of FIBA rules, but this mode takes a back seat to the NBA action. As it should of course, but now that more and more players from those leagues are making the jump to the NBA, it would have been nice to explore that as a career mode as well – adapting to a change in pace and play styles along the way. The inclusion of national teams would also have been a great addition, with players being out of their element as their play with rules and court sizes they’re not used to.
Still, these are minor shortcomings in what is otherwise a great basketball game. 2K Sports have definitely gotten the fundamentals right and it will be extremely interesting to see where they will take the franchise in the upcoming years as the next generation of consoles appears on the horizon. If you’re sticking with your current gen hardware for a while and enjoy basketball – get this. Plain and simple.