The launch line-ups for the Xbox One and PS4 have been a mixed bag to say the least, but one of the complaints I have heard the most is that the games don’t look much better than the last generation. Clearly these particular detractors have never played NBA 2K14.
NBA 2K14 is graphically amazing in every area. Perhaps most noticeable are the players themselves. Now don’t get me wrong: last time out the players didn’t look bad, in fact by last generation standards they were great, but with the new hardware and its extra power players now look even better. Almost all of the players are instantly recognizable, as most of the NBA’s finest have been scanned into the game complete with all their noticeable physical features such as tattoos and facial hair.
In the replays and the pre/post game formalities, the overall quality of the players becomes more apparent. Their limbs and joints are smooth and not jagged at all, the proportions of legs to body, arms and head are all perfect and the way the players move is mightily impressive. For those who haven’t played NBA 2K14 on Xbox One or PS4 you may be thinking this is the case on 360 and PS3 but the difference between the two is unbelievable, previous gen looks pretty bad compared to this.
The only slight shortcoming of the players themselves is in the animation department. Sometimes, certain animations appear to speed up in order to match opponents and occasionally players will quickly glide to mark their assignment. Neither of these happen particularly often and will often go un-noticed by many.
Also, the court and its surroundings have received major improvements visually. Reflections from the overhead screens and lighting rigs can be seen on the court and in many cases its even possible to pick out reflections of teams logo in a reflection. The floors themselves look great, glistening and polished.
The basket rims are considerably thicker which allows players to actually grab them, instead of hovering a hand in its general direction as previously seen. The nets are also of a higher standard, acting in a realistic way and having the satisfying “swish” when a perfect 3-pointer is landed.
Each person in the crowd is now fully 3D and repetition is few and far between, which is quite the achievement. The crowds seem louder and more excitable than ever and, accompanied by the other sounds of the arena, result in an amazing representation of a real NBA game.
Once again the commentary team do a great job – as they have for the last few years – but unfortunately the same few lines keep coming out in every game if you consonantly play as one team. This is mostly down to sideline reporter Doris Burk who repeatedly tells you that Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra loves the word “focus”. Speaking of Doris Burk, she has been added as an on-court reporter, interviewing players and coaches during breaks and after the game. All the players’ responses are real voices from NBA interviews on the court, which works brilliantly as answers are what the players have actually said, not what a developer thinks they might possibly say.
The TV style presentation is a good as it has ever been, with the Sprint Half Time Report continuing to impress. The replays and cut-aways to players are also impressive but there is a bug on Xbox One, where the game may crash and return to the consoles home screen (losing all progress) when a replay concludes.
Along with the TV-style presentation during games there is the brilliant NBA Today screen, which shows the scores from the latest matches in the real NBA, the upcoming games and a lot of other stats, as well as featuring an NBA Play of the Day video showcasing the best play of the previous night’s games. For the more casual NBA fans this screen will give you all the information you need to keep up with the league.
My Player is one of the more interesting game modes on offer, allowing you to create a player and guide him trough his whole career, from pre-draft right through to winning multiple championships. This mode is definitely a huge time sink, with the early game being a bit boring, forcing you to sit on the bench and only granting a few minutes of game time. It does, however, get better once you become one of the team’s starters.
My GM is a new take on the old franchise mode, which allows you to take control of a whole NBA franchise. Roster moves, contract negotiations and budgets are all down to you to decide. You also have the ability to play in every game, so total world domination is definitely a possibility.
Despite being a totally new game, the gameplay in the Xbox One and PS4 versions is quite similar to that of the 360 and PS3. The pacing is much improved and definitely feels more like a real NBA game – and the AI seems slightly smarter, making more realistic movements and decisions. The controls remain the same, with a big focus on the right stick; and the no-look assist pass that was introduced last time out also makes the jump to the new platforms.
Perhaps the biggest change to the gameplay is the fact that the ball is now its own physics object and is no longer tied to the player that is holding it or about to receive it. This results in the ball moving a lot more naturally, but it also means it will hit players and bounce away just a few too many times than you would expect. Players also seem to take an age to dive to prevent the ball going out of play.
VERDICT: If you want a game to show off your brand new console then NBA 2K14 is the one to get. Visually the game is stunning, and at times can be mistaken for an actual game of basketball. Everything has received a visual makeover and it sure looks impressive. The gameplay is as solid as ever and is great fun, whilst still being a first class simulation of the sport. The game modes on offer result in a lot of variety and will certainly not leave you wanting more. The few minor issues and the crashes do have a slight impact on the game but, overall, the Xbox One and PS4 versions of NBA 2K14 are every bit as good, if not better, than their 360 and PS3 brethren.
SUPERB. This is the mark of greatness, only awarded to games that engage us from start to finish. Titles that score 9/10 will have very few problems or negative issues, and will deliver high quality and value for money across all aspects of their design.
Review code provided by publisher.