Basketball sim is still good, but has frustrating “flops”
NBA 2K14 is much of the same old stuff that we’ve played the last few years, except with new lineups, new player clothing, and new accessories. Taking control of your favorite NBA super stars, managing your hometown team, or leading your own created player through a career can still be fun… albeit some annoying frustrations.
On the hardwood, NBA 2K14 looks gorgeous. If someone watching you play the game didn’t know any better, they could easily mistake it for a real NBA match-up. The presentation, chants of the crowd, the sound of the basketball bounce, player grunts, and even the shoe squeaks all add to the experience. I especially appreciate the situational commentary with Steve Kerr, Clark Kellog, and Kevin Harlin. Despite the repetitiveness, the reactions to rim-shattering dunks and crisp passes feels realistic. They’ll comment on a player’s performance, poor shot selections, team stats, and will even discuss the player’s post-conference interview from the previous game.
On the defensive side of the ball, there has been some improvements and you can defend the ball-handler more effectively. Well-timed swipes will result in more steals and blocking shots as a trailing defender is super satisfying. The battles in the paint feel natural, featuring some cool animations. Smaller players will generate contact with a larger defender and then fall to the ground, or can utilize a smooth euro step to sneak around the big man.
However, 2K Sports has decided to change the player controls for a third time—the right thumb stick now handles shooting and dribble moves with no modifier button. This can be difficult to learn as a quick flick of the stick will perform a fancy dribble, but holding it in one direction for too long will result in unwanted half-court shots. I’ve heard Steve Kerr say, “What was he thinking?” way too many times.
If you’ve played NBA 2K13 or 2K12, it will take a while to get used to the new controls. When you finally do, it becomes easier to break a defender’s ankles with a skilled ball-handler, but make sure there’s a good deal of space between you and the owner of said ankles. Attempting to spin too closely to a defender will cause you to clumsily bump into him and lose the ball. Try to crossover or stutter step too close and the CPU will quickly swipe it away. Surprise! Another turnover.
Probably one of the more frustrating aspects of the game is how easy it is to miss wide open shots. 2K Sports is said to have altered the game sliders significantly to account for more realistic shooting percentages. While that’s all well and good, it’s hard to enjoy a game when a player with a clear lane to the hoop botches the layup OR bricks a 10ft jumper, all while having a maxed out inside and mid-range shooting rating. In some instances, you may even encounter a player that appears to have super human speed. Just when you think you have a fast break, he covers ridiculous distances in a flash, and will challenge your shot despite your head start.
Now after getting used to the new mechanics and a feel for how the offense/defensive develops, it got a whole lot better. I mostly play the My Player mode and quickly learned that you have to play WITHIN the offense. Sure, sometimes you have to take control of the game like any good superstar can, but you can’t always create your own opportunities to score. Having the coach call plays and running them successfully feels natural. If you’re a good ball handler that likes to drive to the basket, you’ll get isolation plays called for you. Boom, that’s your time to shine. Prefer a pull-up jumper or to catch-and-shoot? You’ll get plenty of opportunities to run around screens for open looks.
**Major Bug** – If you get to play in any of the All-Star weekend events (e.g. – 3 Point Contest, Dunk Contest, Rookie/Sophmore Game, or the All Star Game), you’ll lose the rest of the season and jump straight to playoffs. This has been confirmed for Association and My Player modes. As of 11/15/2014, there is still no patch to update. Maybe they’re more concerned with the next-gen versions.
Verdict – Rental
NBA 2K14 is arguably the best basketball simulation on the market, but that’s without any direct competition at the moment. NBA Live is apparently slated to make a comeback and it couldn’t come at a better time. With NBA 2K14 being the sole basketball sim, it’s gotten lazy and hasn’t offered much more to the hooping experience with each passing year.
Have you seen the screen comparisons of current-gen versus next-gen?
They’ve added a bunch of new features to add to the experience, including samples of real players’ interviews.