Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: NBA 2K14

The launch of NBA 2K14 on brand new consoles is most certainly welcome, though the videogame doesn’t have the same free reign as it did on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 last month. Here it has to go head-to-head with EA SPORTS’ NBA Live 14, […]
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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Electronic Theatre ImageThe launch of NBA 2K14 on brand new consoles is most certainly welcome, though the videogame doesn’t have the same free reign as it did on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 last month. Here it has to go head-to-head with EA SPORTS’ NBA Live 14, the eagerly anticipated return of the popular virtual basketball brand. However, while many had high hopes for NBA Live 14 it arguably hasn’t performed to expectation; NBA 2K14 however, has set a high bar for future basketball videogames on the new current-generation machines.

For all intents and purposes, NBA 2K14 is essentially the same videogame on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as it was on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. This is no bad thing however, as on previous-generation systems NBA 2K14 pushed Electronic Theatre Imageagainst expectations even if it fell short of astounding in the same fashion as its predecessors. NBA 2K14 is undoubtedly one of the best basketball simulation videogames there has ever been, both in terms of depth and accuracy of it’s virtual representation, and here on new hardware it looks nothing short of amazing.

The core of NBA 2K14’s experience remains a career mode which sees you take on just one player and pilot his journey to NBA superstardom from college player to first-pick in the big leagues – if you’re good enough – taking control of not just how he behaves on the court, but off it too. It’s an elegantly streamlined presentation that plays well towards the strengths of the sport, adding plenty of background without ever bogging the player down with too many useless statistics. These are available if you so choose, but in the face of it the next match is never more than a minute-or-so away.

This is a good thing because during a match NBA 2K14 is a wonderfully tense experience. It’s fast and it’s tough, demanding that the player work to the strengths of their team members – be it speed, height or build – to take the advantage. It’s very easy to slip behind by half-a-dozen baskets through just a few minor mistakes. Practice makes perfect, of Electronic Theatre Imagecourse, and NBA 2K14 provides an opportunity for just that in its tutorial mode. Broken down into three different components, the tutorial presents everything from basic control to advanced techniques, helping players develop their skills for exhibition and league matches, career mode and the toughest challenge of all: online matches.

Also divided into three options, online gameplay allows up to ten players to enter a single match. Just two players can go head-to-head but having a full quota of team members is most certainly more impressive. What’s more, during Electronic Theatre’s assessment of NBA 2K14 there were rarely connection issues when playing with a full squad; a rarity at the best of times, let alone with the turbulent services that the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have experienced since launch.

As stated above, NBA 2K14 is a fine looking videogame. The player models are arguably the best yet seen in any sports videogame and the cloth textures are simply amazing in motion. Sadly, out of the gameplay the player models are poorly animated and frequently look less than human, with almost laughable canned routines and horrendous lip-synching. Electronic Theatre ImageThe soundtrack is exactly what you would expect of a top flight sports simulation, with a mix of pop and hip-hop featuring the likes of Robin Thicke, Coldplay, Drake and Phil Collins.

NBA 2K14 doesn’t bring much in the way of surprises to the new generation of consoles, but then neither did it’s release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. What it does offer is dependable, enjoyable virtual basketball experience that rivals the best the videogames industry has yet offered. Here on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, that’s light years beyond anything its direct competition can offer. EA SPORTS have got to step up their game, that’s for sure, but also 2K Sports have set themselves a high barrier to surpass with the surely inevitable NBA 2K15.

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