Many gamers will remember the iconic opening scene of NBA 2K11, a scene which — because of its epic nature — gave me chills. You had Michael Jordan walking out of the player’s tunnel, right before the Bulls versus Lakers 1991 first playoff game, turning and asking “Are you ready?”
Fast forward to NBA 2K13 trying to recreate that magic, but this time with a Jay-Z twist, as the game opens up to the rap icon performing Public Service Announcement and the opening line being “Allow me to re-introduce myself….” It’s a statement that helps describe exactly what he has done to the franchise.
NBA 2K14‘s intro, as well as the game itself, falls a bit short with LeBron James.
Is the NBA 2K14 a bad game? Simple answer is no. Is it a great game? This is more of a complex answer. It depends. I say it depends because at its core NBA 2K14 looks and feels the same as NBA 2K13. It is almost impossible to say that the titles are not the same from a gameplay perspective — heck even some of the displays and details are the same still. Visually the game makes no discernible offering of visual upgrades and when looking at shots of the next generation versions of the same title we can see that there is a very clear jump into the next generation graphically compared to this generation’s version.
The game did receive a proper roster update so you will now have an updated Nets team with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce as well as updated commentary that flows with the game. Those things aside, the gameplay changes that were implemented feel like such minor tweaks that a player could easily think nothing was done. If a player owns an older version roster updates can be easily downloaded and updated manually, making NBA 2K14 kind of irrelevant.
Music has become a big part of the NBA 2K franchises and this time around 2K let LeBron James pick the tracks. There’s nothing really outstanding to hear here. The game’s soundtrack features some new hits like Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines, while trying to mix in some classics such as Phil Collins’s In The Air Tonight (which for some reason now makes me want to shoot hoops). Also back is the ability to customize your sneakers via Nike or the Jordan brand and even make your own Nike ID shoes that you can then order online in real life.
Jay-Z is gone from the franchise and with him he took the Dream Team, Celeb Team and Team USA. So no more playing with Pauly D and Justin Bieber against Sir Charles and Michael Jordan, but you can play with fourteen international teams in their place. The addition of LeBron James being plastered all over the game must be great for Miami Heat fans but for a Brooklyn Nets fan like myself I couldn’t care less to have LeBron: Path to Greatness as a feature. You pretty much control LeBron and the Miami Heat through various games in his career in order to make him a champion, and I remain unimpressed.
This was the only mode added to the game; everything else is still there but feels the same, such as MyCareer and The Association modes. I was also blown away from the fact that even the trophies are the same from last year, with the exception of the Path to Greatness trophy being added. It just seems like a cut and paste job at times, which really is a shame.
If you are a hardcore fan of the NBA 2K franchise do not expect dramatic changes in this edition for this generation of consoles. You can feel that some tweaks were made to defense as passes are intercepted more frequently, blocks seem to be easier to get and there were some changes made to the “Pro Stick” (which just means you have to re-learn controls for a third year in a row), but it just isn’t enough to warrant a brand new purchase if you have last year’s edition.
As a note, if you avoid the “Pro Stick” controls you can jump right into a game and start playing with no tutorials necessary. Offense feels a bit tweaked as it isn’t as easy to drain threes from beyond the arch, but once you get the feel of it offense will become second nature again.
The game is still a great basketball sim, but it feels lazy and incomplete, almost as if they spent all their energy getting ready for the next generation of NBA 2K titles (and I say this after watching this OMG trailer).
Bottom line is if you have NBA2K13 you will not see much of a difference moving over to NBA 2K14 other than roster updates. If you have never played a NBA 2K game then NBA 2K14 is a good pick up, but if you are looking to move to the next generation of consoles hold off and get it for the PS4 or Xbox One. Watch that OMG trailer again if you have a doubt.