Amidst the array of great looking launch titles on Xbox One and PS4, 2K Sport’s outrageously gorgeous basketball sim makes a very solid claim to be the best looking of the bunch. It might fall just short of the first party likes of Ryse and Killzone (only just mind), but can almost unquestionably go down as the most visually impressive of the multi-format offerings. It’s doesn’t deliver the kind of mind blowing leap that Fight Night: Round 3 did on 360, but nonetheless stands as a major step-up from its already very attractive last-gen offering.
Of course, as we all know, visuals aren’t everything, but for anyone who has played 2K Sport’s peerless basketball sim over the past few years, you’ll already know that this is a series famous for more than just its pretty face. In fact, it’s a series that has been so good, so fantastically consistent that even the mighty EA had to retreat from its wake. Of course, NBA Live did return this year, but given the utter disappointment of that release and the assured, unwavering quality of NBA 2K14, I for one wouldn’t be all surprised to find NBA Live on another enforced hiatus this time next year.
Despite NBA 2K14 delivering more of an iteration than an overhaul to last year’s already fantastic on court action, thanks to Visual Concepts’ Eco-Motion Engine, those actions look more realistic than ever before. Not only are player likenesses improved greatly, but animations and fluidity have also seen a marked improvement over last year’s release.
The use of the right analogue stick in combination with the improvements to fidelity combine to create a basketball simulation that not only looks, but feels closer to the real thing than ever before. It will take some practice for newcomers to feel in any way proficient and veterans might find the subtle changes initially jarring, but once it all clicks into place, NBA 2K14’s control scheme once again shows why one basketball sim is more than enough.
While the improved visuals, physics and animations make the Xbox and PS4 iterations the superior product once out on the court (it’s still plays fantastically well on the PS3 and Xbox 360), a handful of omissions from the next-gen release means that those looking for the full package, might want to stick it out on 360 or PS3 for one more year.
Despite both versions having more content than any one person is ever likely to get through, the next-gen releases are short of the, LeBron: Path to Greatness mode, and the series’ dynasty mode, Association. Still, replacing these is MyGM mode, which, depending on what level of involvement you are looking for, has the vey real ability to swallow up your life whole. The full fat version of this mode sees you take on every aspect of managing an organization, right down to deciding ticket prices and dealing with player egos. On top of this, you’ll find yourself handling the press and your relationship with other franchise…..oh, and you know, playing loads of basketball too. It’s an exhaustive mode, and alone, delivers a shed load of content. Luckily, for those with jobs and stuff, there is also a skimmed version that allows you to side-step some of the micro-managing and keep your focus on the court.
If that’s not enough, there’s also the return of a new and improved, yet still outrageously cheesy, MyCareer mode. Here you get to live the American dream, making your way from nobody to All Star on your ultimate path to glory. Sure, the cut scenes and dialogue are nonsense, and the relationships throughout are overblown and heavy-handed, but for those looking to live the ‘supposed’ life of an NBA superstar, this will be the mode for you.
It doesn’t end there either. Beyond the usual array of fantastic online options and 2K’s always entertaining take on street basketball, (Park mode – complete with NBA legends), MyTeam also returns with an assortment of new features to add to the already deep collection of options and unlockables. With more rare card types and a new offline mode, this collectible card game mode provides yet another excuse to get lost in the seemingly endless world of NBA 2K14.
The Xbox One and PS4 versions may lack some of the game modes available on the last-gen additions, but with so much content to get through, a few omissions doesn’t feel like that big of a deal. Anyway, on the court, NBA 2K14 looks and plays better than ever before with Visual Concepts’ Eco-Motion Engine really making a big visual impact to both the core gameplay and the overall TV style presentation. NBA 2K14 is a fantastic game on whatever platform you decide to go for, but despite the missing game modes, feels like a genuine step-up on next-gen consoles. It may not reinvent the series, but as a sign of what is to come in the coming generation, 2K14 really can’t help but fill you with confidence…..unless you work for EA of course. In that case it fills you with dread.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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