Visual Concepts has made some significant changes to NBA 2K14 for next-gen that help it distinguishes itself from its previous console edition. And while the on-court action in NBA 2K14 isn’t markedly different from the way the current generation versions play, the upgraded visuals enhance the overall experience. The user interface has been completely revamped and there are new types of game modes offered, but are they enough for you to cop if you already own it on PS3 or Xbox 360?
First thing you’re going to want to be aware of is, the game takes a little bit over a half hour to install. While it’s going through the installation process, you’ll only be able to play a quick match between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. The match will also be devoid of commentary until the game finishes installing.
If eye candy graphics are your thing, then NBA 2K14 is a must have. There isn’t another game on the market (we see you Live) that matches 2K14 in capturing player likeness quite like Visual Concepts has done with their roundball simulation. Players are more lifelike, they’ve got more personality, and they look more like themselves. They’ve got the signature moves and styles that let you identify them with ease. The facial animation adds depth to the players as they express an array of emotion for each appropriate moment. Small things like sweat glistening on their skin or the fabric’s intricate pattern contribute to the how excellent this game looks. Graphics however will only carry a game so far, so the important question is, does the game play hold up on next gen? If it’s not broke well you know the rest and 2K made the smart decision to ensure that it plays as well as it does on the PS3/360 consoles. While that may annoy the heads who were looking for a completely different gameplay experience, the new smart AI and NBA-accurate pacing complete with this year’s new Assist Pass and improved dribbling controls will quell any fears. The bottom line is it still holds the title of the best playing basketball game ever made.
For this edition, Visual Concept did away with the Association mode and replaced it with a career mode called MyGM. MyGM places you in the shoes of you guessed it, a team’s general manager. So the first thing I did was start a career (your GM will be the same likeness of your created my Player) with the NY Knicks and see if I could get my squad’s fortunes turned around. Before you start your actual career you have to choose what style of GM you want to be—a tactician, physician, evaluator, persuader, broker, entrepreneur, or psychologist—with each one offering a different type of upgrade reward. As the Knicks I chose psychologist which came with a discount on emotional intelligence upgrades. Each team has an owner with his own unique profile. In the case of the Knicks their owner Trent O’Brien is a wealthy business man with a strong personality who puts winning and team image above all else. He’s not interested in turning a profit just stacking championship rings. After you select your GM style, you’re interviewed by the owner who asks you a series of questions with the direction the conversation goes in dependent solely by the answers you give him. The entire setup is menu driven where you’ll be given options to choose your responses but you don’t hear any actual dialogue. In MyGM you have to acquire virtual currency (vc) to level up your GM so he can unlock tasks like adjusting team rotation minutes or changing the lineup. Overall MyGM is a fresh, considered take on the age-old franchise mode, though you won’t earn many GM-related unlocks (such as influence in contract negotiations) unless you go in and play the games yourself. Lebron James’ Path to Greatness did not make a return for the next-gen version but the MyCareer mode has a lot of content added transforming it into a mini RPG soap opera. If there was one downside to all of this, NBA 2K14 will always have to be connected online if you’re to enjoy all of the modes offered. If your console is not connected to the Internet, the MyCareer and MyGM modes are unavailable to you, as are any multiplayer modes, including “The Park”. Knowing how sketchy 2K’s servers are, this could lead to some frustrating moments for players who may want to continue their careers only to be thwarted by downed servers.
Overall, NBA 2K14 on next-gen is ambitious, and lays down a solid foundation for the series to continue to build on. While it plays almost identically to the game you may already own it’s also one of the few games that make a true next-generation leap in visual fidelity making it a worthwhile purchase.—written by DJRhude (@DJRhude)
XXL Rating: XL
NBA 2K14 was reviewed on a PS4 copy provided by 2k Sports.