Basketball titles have come a long way since their days in the arcades back when I was a young gamer. I still remember that highs of breaking the back boards and setting hoops on fire in the likes of NBA Jam. Fast forward to today and basketball games are set on offering the ultimate simulation that allows you not only to realise you NBA dreams as a player, but allow you to manage a full dream team of the worlds greatest players. NBA 2K16 aims to offer not only the best playable basketball title but also slam dunks a story written by Spike Lee.
This year Visual Concepts have brought one of the most feature packed basketball titles I have played to date. This is emphasised the fact that they have used ideas they had from before last years iteration even shipped. From developing your virtual alter ego, taking part in a plethora of game modes to conquering the world leaderboards, you will be slam dunking your heart out. The amount of features and customization this year will keep fans of the sport happy until at least, if not longer till next years title is released.
One mode at the heart of NBA 2K16 is the MyCAREER mode which is something similar to the be a pro modes you would find in football titles. However this year Visual Concepts has worked with Spike Lee to write and direct something quite unique and something not really tried before in any sports title. This mode has you play Freq an up and coming basketball player who dreams of being in the NBA. Coming from Harlem in the hood, you start from high school basketball all the way up and experience what it is like making the journey to the NBA. The story may be predictable at times but I still feel it is well written and it shows what happens when you mix family with business, especially when they look to be all out to get a piece of green pie. There are moments in the story that show this has had some expert writing and can get quite deep on the feelings side.
While NBA VC features in MyCAREER to boost your stats etc., there are plenty of opportunity to gain bonus VC and bonus content during games and managing your off days. This all comes at the end of your rookie year which is where the story ends and the real work begins to get to your dream of stardom. I have to say there is a lot to do and the key is to be able to manage your on and off days effectively. The Depth of MyCAREER alone has got me more interested in spending the time to get better at basketball. I also like the fact you can take part in post-match interviews, something F1 titles used to have. While there is grinding involved if you don’t want to spend cash on NBA VC, the live practice does make it rather fun to do so. The features seen in MyCAREER are some of the best in any sports titles and other developers should learn from what Visual Concepts have produced in an outstanding single player experience.
Even outside MyCAREER the game packs a wealth of features between offline and online play that will make you want to up your game whenever you can. MyPARK will have you representing one of three unique parks by taking your MyPLAYER online playing a variety of games. You can also take to the 2K Pro-Am courts with 9 other random people over the world to show off the skills and attributes of your MyPLAYER. You will also be able to upload your own custom logos here as well. For those who fancy themselves as a manager in the NBA you will want to check out MyGM witch gives you control over team finances, staff, player personnel and more. This year sees new team relocation, advanced team building, summer leagues, three-team-trades to name but a few. This is very in-depth and should satisfy those management cravings. MyTEAM is basketballs version of Ultimate Team, where you build your dream team from collecting cards etc. and play through various game modes. On the single player front you have all the usual game types from play now to blacktop where you can play 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4 and 5v5. Its great to see all these modes on offer in single player as well as online. Then there is the large roaster of teams which consist of current teams to teams through the ages going as far back as the 64-’65 Boston Celtics, this is a nice touch for long term fans of basketball.
The games customization options are just astonishing with so much on offer to customize form your MyPLAYER to the court you own. The Live Scan feature can be a little hit or miss depending on the light you use. However you have so much customizable options you will get as close as can be to a virtual you as you could hope for. I love the tattoos that are on offer in the game and there is even one similar to my own. With MyLEAGUE you will be able to customize a robust 80-year experience, or even create an online league (a first for the franchise) for you and your friends. This is the perfect feature for those that like to play in and run some unique and competitive leagues. I have to say that this title offers an astonishing amount of options and sliders to play about with. Yes it may feel overwhelming for a novice player, but for the hardcore slam dunker’s out there this is pretty much basketball heaven.
Having a robust number of features is one thing but basketball won’t work unless the controls are air tight. Visual Concepts have worked hard on making the title accessible to both new and veteran hoop players. If you are more use to the old skool titles aken to NBA Jam etc., you can get away with just using the pass and shoot buttons. If you are a hardcore basketball fan though and want to show off skills that normally you would only achieve being in the game as long as those like Michael Jordan, there is a more intricate control system that will allow just that. By learning the controls in depth you will be pulling off fakes, triple threat combos and so much more. The game has also seen over ten-thousand animations making this look and feel the most realistic basketball title to date. Great emphasis has been put on your hight, weight, foot-planting and wingspan giving a much more realistic play style. On the AI front the game plays well pretty much 99.9% percent of the time, although there has been occasions where AI controlled players will just stand for what seems ages with the ball before shooting or passing. It is a rare occurrence though and nothing that taken away from the overall enjoyment.
On the graphics front NBA 2K16 is the best looking title to date and in certain areas it shows just how far Visual Concepts have come. The sweat coming off the players themselves does actually look quite realistic, and the arenas and courts just look stunning and really sucks you in to the basketball world. They have done a great job incorporating real world players into the game, with great animation work. The balls physics to me are realistic as wither you are running rings around opponents or rebounding from shots. In the audio front during the post-match commentary it can be a little hit or miss, but the voiceovers in the single player are quite exceptional. The games soundtrack is actually one of the best soundtracks in a sports title and it complements the fact it is a basketball games.
The Good Things
- The sheer amount of modes and in-depth customization means no other sports title comes close.
- A very enjoyable single player career mode, with plenty to do after the Spike Lee Story ends.
- Refined controls makes this a great title for novices and slam dunk pros alike.
And The Bad
- Live Scan is a little hit and miss depending on lighting conditions used.
- The occasional audio issue that can happen on post-match commentary.
- I have enjoyed the career mode a lot and feel that other sports titles should follow suit. When I play most sports titles I only tap into becoming a pro, but NBA 2K16 manages to add some feeling and meaning to your journey of becoming a star. Yes the story may be predictable but the writing is a step up from previous sport titles. It adds a bit of a connection between you and your avatar counterpart. Overall presentation of NBA 2k16 is nothing short of outstanding and addictive, Visual Concepts have given players the right tools and customization options to be playing far beyond the life span of the title. My experience using the online features have been problem free. Things like MyPARK will only be as strong as what the players make it but I have not experienced any connection issues or input lag etc. NBA 2K16 gives enough new features and depth that current fans will not want to let pass by them. If you are new to basketball then you can keep the controls as basic or as in-depth as you want, making this quite an accessible title for all sport fans.
Other developers should learn from what Visual Concepts have produced in their outstanding single player experience.