"Same Old, Same Old"
Well, it's that time again. The next yearly basketball game is here and it's the swan song for the franchise on current gen consoles. Normally, a game coming out in this portion of a consoles life would be well crafted, innovative and...well, significantly different from last years game. Unfortunately, NBA 2K14 is the same game some new tricks and a handful of bad tricks as well.
I’ve personally emphasized time and time again that graphics do not make a gameplay experience. However, the graphical quality of NBA 2K14 is identical to 2K13 from last year. In fact, I played both games back to back and I struggled to distinguish between the two once I disregarded the slightly adjusted HUD in 2K14. It’s a minor gripe, but we all know that the current consoles are more capable than repeating graphics year after year in what appears to be an act of sheer laziness. Everything still looks a little cardboard, although the crowd has a received a noticeable upgrade, although they spend more time in your peripheral vision while you’re focused on the core of the game.
Speaking of the core gameplay, it’s here that 2K14 received the greatest overhaul and some of it is good while other portions of it simply aren’t. First and foremost, the changes to the right stick seem completely unnecessary. Shooting and fancy dribbling have always been bound to the same stick but you could toggle them by holding down the left trigger and switching in between the two. This year, the left trigger activates flashy passing, making it easier to execute some bounce passes, behind the back passes and no look passes. All of these are very aesthetically pleasing, but they’re also unnecessary. It’s nice to know that I can pull a cool looking no look pass to a teammate, but giving up the precise control with my dribble moves wasn’t worth it. There are options to revert the controls back to the 2K13 configuration, but then you look the passing altogether which really makes it seem like an unnecessary addition.
Another change that’s been brought to 2K14 is the way players models handle collisions. It’s always been an uphill battle to simulate realistic player contacts, but it seems that 2K14 took a step back instead of forward. In the previous version of the game, when encountering a defender head on, your player would stop and be placed into a “locked up” animation where they begin protecting the ball. However you could also approach a defender from the right angle and blow past them with minimal effort. This is no longer the case in 2K14, not entirely. I found myself behind slowed to a complete halt just because a defender was nearby, when my player still had an open lane to the net. Because of this, points in the paint, layups and dunks can be a little tricky to achieve because you have to be wary of your player completely stopping even though there’s still a clear route past a defender.
Outside of the players locking up on one another, the defense in 2K14 is easily the greatest improvement. Almost to the point of frustration, really, but that’s a good thing because it’s realistic. The CPU in the this game will spend more time making logical defensive choices, and you as a player have to continue to adapt while pressing your offense, or you’ll find yourself completely locked down and shut up from the net. The CPU makes adjustments based on your play style so, if you prefer to drive the lane and play under the net, you’ll find yourself more strongly contested and eventually the opposing team will call double teams on you. It adds to the genuine feeling of the game when the CPU treats a player like a credible threat and locks them down with a double team because they’re on a hot streak.
The player of focus for 2K14 is Lebron James and because he holds the cover, there’s an entire game mode called Lebron: Path to Greatness, where you can choose to build a multi ring dynasty with the Heat, or finish the season and carry his legacy into free agency. It’s an interesting what if mode, but James’ inflated stats (not that they’re undeserved) really removes a large portion of the challenge. Because he received the coveted 99 rating, there aren’t many players who can check him so you can blow past entire teams whether you’re with the Heat or not.
Overall, NBA 2K14 is disappointing on the current generation of systems. Most of the changes that it brings to the table work against the experience rather than for it. The design approach on the current gen is definitely beginning to show its age and, hopefully, the next gen versions will bring a greater number of true improvements to the table.
GameDynamo's Score for NBA 2K14 (X360)
|Joey Blackwell II
Avid gamer who's more passionate about writing. Hopes to be a renowned writing voice in the world someday, while still being addicted to games.
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