Thursday, September 12, 2013

NBA 2K14: the definition of 'next-gen' sports games

NBA2K14 is dribbling onto the shelves in October, so there was no other choice for us here at PlayAsiaTV than to get our hands on the controller and see what Visual Concepts has done to make the game smarter, faster, and overall a better experience for videogame nerd-ballers everywhere.

Let's get to the game-play, this is what makes or breaks sports games - and NBA2K14 is no exception to this rule. You can make the game as pretty as you want but if playing it is no fun, what is the point? Luckily tons of game-play features have been rolled out, the biggest feature in our eyes is the Pro-Stick. Many fans will recognize this mechanic as the 2.0 polished edition of 2K13's 'control stick' (R3). The long and the short of this function is player ball control - this means slick player movements. You can think of the Pro-Stick as a sort of combo-stick, or a modifier. Lay-ups, dunks, jump shots, shielding the ball - the depth of the Pro-Stick is all in all very impressive. I think it is the perfect addition for a few reasons: newcomers will experience an entry-level of control much higher than before, veterans of the franchise will have something to master, and I love modifiers. Okay, so the last one is personal.

The best defense is said to be a good offense, but NBA2K14 decided to say screw it and make sick defense changes anyway. Do you hear that sound? That is all the 2K13 players cheering.

Blocking dunks in 2K13 was hell, there is no two ways about it. In 2K14 you shouldn't have any of those problems because you can actually block dunks, not just foul your opponent. Blocking in general has improved. Lay-up shots and close shots feel much more realistic to block now, not to mention the added animations to the game make it look more realistic too. Screening your opponent won't be another auto-win, 2K14 opens up a lot of counter-play creating a much needed equilibrium between offense and defense.

Your team. They will actually be a unique, and useful, team. 

No more predetermined paths from that wide-open teammate. At least not super obvious ones, which is what matters. There significantly more cohesion to the team, which isn't actually saying much because in 2K13 your players felt like an obstacle on the court. This goes for your opponents as well - so watch out your same-play-spamming won't work. TL;DR No more 'GG 1v9'.

The players themselves have bigger differentiation, so the unique attributes each player possesses can be exploited. So just holding sprint doesn't mean that you can catch every player - if you are simply slower you'll have to use your player's advantages.

Your rosters are real. 

Okay so not 'real', but pretty damn close. This is probably the most exciting feature, if not only because it has so much potential in the future. Your in-game NBA will be affected by the ongoing NBA season, that means if  player is injured, traded, or on a hot streak their play and availability will change accordingly. You read that correctly, the player AI will actually change. Someone is playing defensively or offensively lately? They have been dunking like a mad man? You will notice these characteristics in game.

What is an NBA game without rap?

It is impossible to talk about NBA games without the music you'll be alley-ooping to for hours. Apparently Lebron James had a hand in choosing the track list, but I'm sure the censors had a bigger job in cutting out the swear words.

The full track list:

Big Krit ‘Cool 2 be Southern’

Cris Cab ‘Paradise (On Earth)’

Coldplay ‘Lost’

Daft Punk (feat. Pharrell Williams) ‘Get Lucky’

Drake ‘Started From The Bottom’
, Eminem ‘Not Afraid’

Fly Union ‘Long Run’

Gorillaz ‘Clint Eastwood’

Imagine Dragons ‘Radioactive’

Jada Kiss (feat. Ayanna Irish) ‘Can't Stop Me’

Jay Z ‘The Ruler's Back’

John Legend (feat. Rick Ross) ‘Who Do We Think We Are’

Kanye West ‘All Of The Lights’

Kendrick Lamar ‘Now Or Never’
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (feat. Ray Dalton) ‘Can't Hold Us’

Nas (feat. Puff Daddy) ‘Hate Me Now’

Phil Collins ‘In The Air Tonight’,
Robin Thicke (feat. Pharrell) ‘Blurred Lines’

The Black Keys ‘Elevator’

The Black Keys ‘Howlin For You’

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