Much like the FIFA series, one can start to expect that massive leaps of improvements begin to dwindle year on year as the games get to a point where slight gameplay tweaks can only do so much and the fundamentals of the game can’t be overhauled as to alienate fans.
You’d think this with the NBA 2K series too – a franchise which has a hit an impressive pinnacle in the last couple years, and one which begs to ask the question: what can they do next?
Somehow, developer Visual Concepts have managed to pull the rabbit out of the hat and deliver yet another stride forward in the sports genre with NBA 2K16, and here’s how they did it…
Gameplay wise, the game received a boost this year from a redesigned post play before shooting or passing that lets you back down players with a press of the left trigger, a feature which veteran NBA 2K gamers will be familiar with. Passing also received a makeover, giving you three face buttons for lobs, bounce passes, and the traditional toss. Double tapping these buttons gives you quick access to alley-oops and flashy passes as well. Having these options at your fingertips is great for specific situations, and help against the tough AI, which is some of the best we’ve seen in a sports game.
For the last few years the destination mode for NBA 2K games has been MyCareer, which puts you in the shoes of an up-and-coming baller breaking into the NBA. This year 2K handed the storytelling duties to famed director Spike Lee, who takes the experience in a decidedly cinematic direction. Users still create their own player, but Lee is the true director of this story.
It adds a lot of emotion, emphasis and focus around the process of the journey and the pressures your character feels on his way to the top, dealing with some hard realities of fame and fortune. It adds a nice dimension to NBA 2K16 and shows that the narrative route and sports games can, in fact, live in harmony.
More serious online ballers can try out the new 2K Pro-Am, which pits teams of five against each other. You can jump right into a pickup game, or create your own team (complete with customized logos, jerseys, and court). I generally had good luck connecting, though some have had problems getting into games.
And for those more managerially included, MyGM mode will be your home base. MyGM gives you say in all the organization’s day-to-day operations. From tweaking ticket prices and building the roster to managing staff personalities and training regiments, this is the deepest franchise mode in sports games. The many systems at play rival those of dedicated sim games; you can even relocate you team to another city, build a new arena, and design new jerseys.
NBA 2K16 is a triumph in the sports genre of this console generation. For newcomers, it may be slightly overwhelming given the gameplay depth and intricacies, but once you pass the initial learning curve, you’ll have one of the best and most rewarding experiences that not only a basketball game, but any sports game, can deliver.