Review: NBA 2K16
Considered the messiahs of Basketball videogames, NBA 2K are also above all other sports simulations for the past several years. With an attention to details, now pushed even further to enrich your experience and make it as authentic as possible. There’s a sense of perfectionism as the Visual Concept team feed our eyes with rich graphics, but also amazing gameplay and technical precision.
So how do you stay on top when you’ve been established for so many years? Ask Michael Jordan, whose legendary spirit of competition incited him, to constantly push the limits. Rob Jones, producer of the NBA 2K saga, was clearly inspired by “His Majesty” to give keep on making this game better with time. Where other sports simulations are more focused in marketing, advertising innovations and pompous concepts, the guys at Visual Concepts take into account the pleas of demanding players to offer them an increasingly realistic experience. An initiative all the more commendable considering that the series had almost no competitors to force out of its comfort zone.
It’s really hard to imagine, once the product is out in the market, controller in your hand, of all the work done by the designers. Yet sometimes I forget, in the heat of the moment, that this is a video game aiming to render the likes of a real TV coverage. These few flashes, these “key moments”, were added to a maximum amount n their race to photorealism graphics, which sometimes turns into a sort of fetishism.
The first reworked area relates to the visual environment and the way in which players move in the field. Each athlete is identifiable for its style on the court, in an even better way than before. An astronomical amount of animations has been added to the palette of professional ballers such as LeBron’s signature dribble jab move and other credible gestures. The developers have even gone to the length to scan their entire bodies, including performing very detailed work on their joints and wrists and calculating the impact point of the heel and toes on the ground so that the slightest movement oozes legitimacy.
The studio has also redesigned gameplay to offer even more thrills than before. The assist and passing system has been enriched with the possibility to choose between three options (Normal, lobed, bounced), and the redesigned defensive system allow players to adapt to the characteristics and signature moves of their opponents as simple but as complex as a game of rock, paper and scissors. The list of improvements, but all you need to know mainly is that all parts of the gameplay has been improved, to bring more fun in the long run.
As much as graphics and gameplay settings have been improved, it’s on the artificial intelligence that Rob Jones’ team seem to have devoted their main attention. Real life professional basketball nowadays has become more tactical than ever with the a new generation of coaches and star ballers, and 2K Games had made sure to adapt to this evolution. Their mission was accomplished with distinctive player behavior adjustments according to their present abilities, game situations, and philosophies advocated by their mentors. The AI smartly calls for a screen, a pass, or switches strategies to counter your flaws in the game, almost like its learning and analyzing your action throughout the game. It’s fluid, smooth and makes every game you play different and full of surprises.
The MyCareer scenario holds up, even if it doesn’t escape the traditional clichés of a sports saga
Like all typical american made games, NBA 2K is no exception to the trend of turning a game into an interactive movie or show. Something that made the reputation of the series, Visual Concepts deepened its great narrative “story” by adding reporter interviews during matches, or even pre-game shows provided by Earnie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith. On top of all, the production team has put a great emphasis on the “My Career” mode which was kind of of lacking dynamism and soul in NBA 2K15, by bringing Spike Lee on board, a talented director and Knicks fan, to give a cinematic immersion to our virtual NBA career. It’s a great contribution that makes your created avatar at the heart of a Basketball soap opera, full with drama, jealousy, dedication and hard decisions to make. The MyCareer scenario holds up, even if it doesn’t escape the traditional clichés of a sports saga, but yet stays true to its launch slogan “BeTheStory”.
On the topic of music, something never really neglected in previous title (NBA 2K15 was curated by Pharrell Williams), NBA 2K16 has numerous tracks produced and picked leading music icons DJ Khaled, DJ Musard and DJ Premier. It remains varied enough not to get bored of and sticks to the spirit of openness desired by developers, and is not as focused to hip hop as it used to be.
The “MyGM” mode hasn’t been left on the substitution bench. This mode, which allows you to embody a club owner, has also undergone a facelift with appropriate interesting initiatives such as the possibility of relocating the franchise or “scout” for future rookies at the 2K Hoop Summit. Once you are ready, and skilled in the game, it will be time to test the new online mode, “Pro-Am”, which will offer you the opportunity to join or create a team from A to Z, with players from around the world, and play NBA 2K16’s answer to Ultimate Team: “MyTeam”, now with added innovations, such as a series of small challenges more or less convoluted, legendary teams matches, inclusion of the Euroleague for the second year, and even the incorporation of college teams. In short, you got plenty to do on the court.
Through NBA 2K16, basketball takes a new dimension, remove comfortable exploits from the past and redefines the franchise. It’s by far the best basketball game ever made, if not even say, if I dare so myself, the best sport simulation of the gaming world till now.
NBA 2K16 was reviewed using an Xbox One retail copy of the game provided by 2K Games. The game is also available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PC in both retail and online store releases. The review was done after the release of the day one patch. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
• A realism pushed to the max.
• An much more rigorous AI.
• Spike Lee's directoral work.
• Really great looking game visually.
• The most accurate basketball gameplay.
• The MyCareer and numerous other modes.
• A rather crude interface.
• Stats of players feel outdated.
• Those loading time during the game are just too much.
• The voice acting of your player in MyCareer