2K Sports' 'NBA 2K14' for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC.
2K Sports' 'NBA 2K14' for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.
2K Sports has been in a rather fortunate place the last few years. Ever since rival EA Sports axed its NBA LIVE/Elite franchise, 2K has had nil in terms of competition. Thankfully, the company has put out one great pro-basketball game after another and payed tribute to Michael Jordan and others along the way. This year the competition returns, so 2K turns to LeBron James to front NBA 2K14. King James, it seems, has the Midas touch because nearly everything about this game is gold.
The NBA 2K games have, over the years, become some of the highest-quality sports video games annually available. Every year it seems like 2K comes up with new play modes and tweaks to existing ones to keep the franchise from seeming like little more than obligatory roster updates. With Miami superstar LeBron James being the focal point for this year's game comes a clever new play mode that charts the forward's path to greatness and beyond, giving players the choice of keeping James a Heat for life and building a dynasty for the ages or leaving for free agency to build his legacy elsewhere. Either way, the goal is the same: win as many championship rings as possible.
As for the rest of NBA 2K14's play modes, they're the standard fare that those familiar with the series (and, really, sports games in general) would expect. Single game and franchise modes return with seemingly minimal modifications. Similar can be said about online play. And, of course, there's My Player where gamers create their own NBA prospect and try to make a name for themselves starting with the draft with the Hall of Fame being the end goal. All of these play modes are just as entertaining this year as they have been in years past.
Gameplay is largely the same, though the franchise's staple Pro Stick controls have gone through a bit of a sea change. Used for dribbling and shooting, the right analog stick allows players to transition from on-the-floor maneuvers such as crossovers to shooting in theoretically smooth motions. This year's refinement of the control mechanic allows players to simply tap the stick for dribble moves then holding it in the preferred direction to take a shot. While it works well, it's an inexact science and players can expect to miss-shoot from time to time when they're trying to fake out a defender. For those who have issues with it or simply don't like it, there's always the 'X' button.
Visually, NBA players, coaches, and venues look just as true to life as ever. LeBron looks like LeBron, DeMarcus looks like DeMarcus, and so on. Fans in the stands, however, while improved overall appear haphazardly designed and lack that touch of visual quality that the players and coaches enjoy.
Audio is spot-on and 2K yet again provides for an excellent broadcast-like experience complete with play-by-play and accurate bantering between Clark Kellog and Steve Kerr. They even went as far as talking about the fight to keep the Sacramento Kings from moving to Seattle in detail during the Kings' in-game season opener - something quite unexpected yet rather appreciated to listen to during play.
Yet again, the folks at 2K Sports have outdone themselves and have delivered yet another solid entry into the NBA 2K pro-basketball video game franchise. NBA 2K14 is a solid hoops title that should be able to hold its own against the upcoming NBA LIVE 14 title from rival company EA Sports.
Version tested: Xbox 360 (also available on PS3, PC)
(2K Sports supplied a copy of this game for review.)
This review written in conjunction with USA Today's Brett Molina.
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