The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
What a long, strange trip my first NBA season has been.
After dominating my rival at the rookie showcase, I expected to go in the top
five, but after the Phoenix Suns shunned me for that same rival, the New
Orleans Pelicans grabbed me sixth overall. Being a high draft pick, I expected
to get regular minutes, but with Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon cemented in the
starting lineup, I was relegated for the bench for my first few games. Only
after Gordon twisted an ankle did I get my first taste of the NBA experience.
From here, unpredictability was the rule of the day. I
faithfully suffered through rookie hazing by agreeing to carry Jason Smith's
luggage for every road game, but drew the line at wearing a clown nose during
press conferences. A few good games boosted my league popularity and earned me
more minutes, but then I hit a slump. During this rough patch Holiday acted
like a true leader, taking me under his wing and spending off-hours watching
film and practicing with me.
My game rebounded, and after a particularly strong
performance some teammates encouraged me to join them out on the town. I
obliged and woke up the next day with a crippling hangover already late for
practice. Photos emerged on social media of me leaving a club at 6 a.m., and
management was none too pleased. At a sit-down with the GM following my
transgression, he suspended me a game for conduct detrimental to the team. Later
at practice, I had a heated run-in with Smith, the player who invited me out,
after taking him to the floor while running though his pick. Reports of the
scuffle emerged on social media, again casting my reputation in a negative
light. Welcome to the life.
Since it debuted the MyPlayer mode in NBA 2K10, Visual Concepts
has been at the vanguard of the single-player sports experience, allowing you
to shape the career of a professional basketball player from his performance on
the court to his conduct in press conferences. To kick off the next generation,
the studio has doubled down on this mode (redubbed MyCareer last year) by
incorporating these storytelling elements, which hasn't been present in a video
game since NBA 06, the Sony title that chronicled the life of an NBA player but never had the gameplay to support it.
While playing the actual games is still the centerpiece of
MyCareer, you now get a deeper glimpse into the life of a professional athlete
by managing relationships with teammates, conversing with the general manager
and coach, and carrying a rivalry throughout your career. Much of this is
handled via cutscenes with a Mass Effect-like dialogue system. All of your
choices have repercussions. If you lean on the general manager for more
minutes, it may fracture your relationship with your head coach. If you don't
stand up for a teammate who gets fouled hard in the middle of a game, your
chemistry with the team suffers but you avoid taking a hit to your public
reputation. Turning down that offer to hit the town after the game costs you a
valuable opportunity to bond with teammates, but doing so also keeps you out of
This depth of storytelling creates a greater degree of
immersion than any other sports game I've ever played. That said, the mode
would benefit from another layer of polish. Some major locker-room moments,
such as star players getting injured or the general manager trading for new
blood, go by without so much as a news update. The dialogue also jarringly
alternates between spoken segments with the fictitious characters and written
conversations with real players and coaches (an understandable hurdle that
won't likely be cleared any time soon). Because the story plays such a big role
in the mode now, you cannot sim to key games like you could in previous
Visual Concepts took a similar kitchen sink approach to
rebuilding MyGM. Much like the MyCareer mode, this new version of Association
mode puts you in the role of a fledgling general manager responsible for overseeing
the draft, signing free agents, keeping players happy, and working together
with a staff that oversees finances, coaching, and training. Many of your
duties are surfaced in a conversation system, so you don't spend hours diving
into menus to make sure you don't miss a scouting opportunity or a chance to
sign your star player to a contract extension. As you win games and perform
tasks assigned to you by the owner, you earn virtual currency (VC) to spend on
upgrading skills that affect your ability to sign free agents, make palatable
trade offers, improve team facilities, and manage the organization's budget.
If you play every game, it's easy to progress. By simming,
you can only earn the paltry amount of VC awarded for completing the ownership
goals. This leaves you at a major disadvantage when it comes to upgrading your
abilities, spending VC on player improvements, or responding to the wishes of
your coach. Rick Adelman constantly requested that I build a film room so the
players could study, but in three years of managing the organization via
simming I still didn't have enough VC to even unlock the ability to buy new
Though I generally appreciate MyGM's new approach to
franchise modes, it has its share of birth pangs. Sometimes the conversations
you have seem completely out of context. While my team was on a 9-1 tear, my
starting point guard (who has a happiness rating of 100) came to my office to
complain about the team's direction. You also can't look at the list of
prospects during the draft, which makes it tough to assess whether or not you
want to trade up or down. Since the mode operates on auto-saves, if you
accidentally hit the wrong option when negotiation a contract you have zero
recourse for going back. If you set up your MyGM while your console is online you have to be connected online to continue
since it operates on VC, which is stored on 2K servers. As an alternative you could create a purely offline MyGM save file by disconnecting your console and starting up the mode.
On the court, don't expect much of a difference between the
next-gen version of NBA 2K14 and the current generations outside of the
drastically improved graphics. Player models look fantastic, especially the
facial animations. The only other major difference is I saw more clipping than I remember seeing while reviewing
the 360 version, particularly when players are banging in the paint.
If you prefer playing online, your options aren't great. Most
of the basics are here, including MyTeam, head-to-head matchups, and an
abridged online season that caps out at 56 games. A blacktop mode called The Park
(which is oddly hidden within MyCareer mode) lets you play pickup games with
your MyPlayer, but it lacks a proper league structure and suffers from wildly inconsistent performance. I had trouble getting into The Park at all on most attempts, and when I finally was able to play a game the framerate was far from smooth. If you're looking for an online franchise mode, you're out of luck.
than simply port the current generation version of NBA 2K14, Visual Concepts
deserves praise for drastically renovating its two most popular modes for its
next-generation console debut. Both MyGM and MyCareer are promising redesigns
that take the franchise and single-player modes in interesting new directions,
making this the definitive version of NBA 2K14 to own if you prefer to play this way.
But once again, Visual Concepts has left online fans wanting.
Email the author Matt Bertz, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.