This review was contributed by freelance writer Scott Davidson.
Years have gone by where the improvements in the NBA 2K franchise have hit their bumps alongside their strides and gradually improved to be a ground-breaking sports game. NBA 2K16 knocks that tail record out of the park. It’s the first game in the series where YOU are in control of your own game. Whether it’s a small adjustment in the gameplay such as the ability to take full control of the chief pick-and-roll play or the power to design your own court, uniform, logo and city to ultimately construct your own basketball haven.
I need to clarify that this is my favourite game and my favourite series of all time but there are some gripes that I have with it that I need to address first.
Recently, the series has featured the narrative of an up-and-comer in the NBA, fighting his way through to a starting position, often within half a season. 2K16 has turned this pathway into a soap opera thanks to Spike Lee’s involvement, in an all-new storyline in ‘MyCareer’. Some may argue that it’s a more realistic approach to a draftee’s transition into the NBA, while I would argue that it’s a fabricated drama that can be bland and over-the-top. Cringe-worthy relationships between the protagonist and his twin sister Cee-Cee, lifetime friend “Bo$$-Key-Yacht$” and his rapping ambitions and not to mention, the nickname itself, “Frequency Vibrations (shortened to Freq)” raises more eyebrows than it does smiles. The integration of the film “Livin’ da dream” at its core is a fantastic idea but unfortunately, it has been more miss than hit. Regardless of how you play during your rookie-season, the storyline goes unaltered and doesn’t adjust to the on-field performance, which can be excused due to the constraints about making a scripted film on the story. It’s just difficult to relate and attach yourself to, even if you really are from the streets of Harlem yourself, have a twin sister who seems to be attached at your hip and even a friend who is over-affectionate enough to label himself as a “Friend of Freq”.
On the other hand, the addition of the High School journey through to college recruitment process is a major hit, as you’re able to taste and comprehend your player’s game before executing it on the NBA floor against the tougher, bigger bodies.
While the Spike Lee MyCareer Mode has been the boldest move the NBA 2K series has made in the past five years, it passes my approval on the basis that they’ve tried to add something completely different to a game which sees gradual improvements and additions every year.
The gameplay itself improves every year but in 2K16, it’s astonishing how the artificial intelligence of the opponent’s defense has raised the game. Every player reacts to every cue and off-the-ball, the defense recognises plays, movements and traits as the game progresses. As mentioned before, the advanced controls including a more accessible pick-and-roll option and the ability to coordinate pass types have been a welcomed addition to the gameplay. You’re able to take control of mismatches on offense and use it to your advantage to get to the basket, something that has been iffy in previous editions.
Relocation has been a five-star addition to the game’s capabilities with users now being able to create their own team’s home court complete with images, logos and pictures, team jerseys and their own team brand. Then comes the customisation of things such as the Jumbotron, the sidelines announcer’s table and the arena configuration. The locations include all current NBA cities and even places with former teams or the market to which a team could perhaps be one day in the future such as Seattle, Honolulu and Las Vegas.
The best feature of this, in my opinion, is that you can’t simply just pick up the team and move them without any planning and approval. You have to bid to the NBA board with appropriate funds, a targeted demographic audience and a suitable budget. In order to gain approval for the relocation, you’re able to talk to the teams whom are undecided or or denying the relocation and further understand why they’re opting not to allow for the geographical change. This allows you to go back to your bid and make alterations to the facilities, imaging and the city before submitting the proposal.
The gameplay is amazing, the new features are endless and the realism is achieved to an unsurpassable level and yet, the blemish of Spike Lee’s joint infiltrating and controlling the protagonist in MyCareer stains the near perfect game that is NBA 2K16. However, I will undoubtedly be playing this game for the next year, I just think MyCareer is something I’ll be spending less of my time playing as opposed to previous versions.
Relocation capabilities Gameplay advancement Button format – allows for better basketball
Spike Lee’s career > MyCareer Glitchy at the moment, but may be fixed in future