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Gaming Review

'NBA 2K14' review (PS3): Dominates the virtual courts

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Released on Friday, Oct 4 2013

NBA 2K14 screenshot

© 2K Sports

NBA 2K14 screenshot


Release Date: October 1 (North America), October 4 (Europe)
Platforms available on: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Sports
Genre: Sports

Like the Boston Celtics in the '50s and '60s, Michael Jordan at the Chicago Bulls and the US basketball team at the Olympics, the NBA 2K series has dominated the virtual courts in recent years.

While it would be easy to point towards a lack of competition, 2K Sports and the team at Visual Concepts have always tried to create the most comprehensive basketball experience imaginable, and have largely been successful in doing so.

NBA 2K14 continues to improve and expand on the court, making it the most technically impressive release to date, but doesn't make enough changes elsewhere.

In many respects, NBA 2K14 feels a bit like the latest FIFA. With a strong platform in place, the development has spent less time overhauling the gameplay experience, and more time tweaking the fundamentals.

NBA 2K14 screenshot

© 2K Games

Taking on a player.



The action on court looks better than ever, animations are smoother and more plentiful, while player physics are much more realistic, with smaller players buckling under the weight of a lumbering centre or stacked power forward.

The presentation continues to shine, utilising multiple different commentators, match summaries, updates, half-time shows and a wide selection of songs, largely from the hip hop genre.
    With a strong platform in place, the development has spent less time overhauling the gameplay experience, and more time tweaking the fundamentals.
The commentary, in particular, is superb, never slowing down or missing a call, despite the fast-paced, end-to-end nature of the sport.

Game modes such as MyCareer and The Association return, offering the same levels of depth as before, albeit without many noticeable improvements.

NBA 2K14 screenshot

© 2K Games

Slam dunk.



MyCareer, in particular, doesn't do enough to teach the uninitiated about the fundamentals of basketball positional play, making it a very difficult game mode for rookies.

With the development team seemingly unable to make up its mind, it's the controls that have once again received the most attention.

As tempting as it is to criticise the team for forcing another new control scheme on us - this is the third change in as many years - it's hard to argue with the results.

Shooting and dribbling are once again assigned to the right analogue stick, only this time without the need of a trigger-based modifier. Instead, trigger buttons are used to perform flashy passing moves.


Dribbling tricks and skills are performed by rotating and flicking the stick, while shooting requires players to hold and release the analogue stick in the direction of the basket.

Even though two such vital moves are assigned to one stick, it's easy to grasp the differences between shooting and dribbling, and it feels much quicker and more intuitive without the need to hold an additional button.

Considering the speed of basketball, the split-second difference between shooting in this year's game compared to last year makes it easier to sink a bucket without being blocked.

Outside of the redefined control scheme, Visual Concepts has also introduced a brand new game mode starring LeBron James.

NBA 2K14 screenshot

© 2K Games

A wider view of the court.



'Path to Greatness' is a futuristic fantasy mode, in which players attempt to secure LeBron's legacy either by staying with the Miami Heat and winning championships, or by bringing glory to a host of new teams.

As a casual fan of basketball, it was nice to play as somebody as famous and internationally recognisable as LeBron James, and it was entertaining to see where LeBron would end up next.
    Even though two such vital moves are assigned to one analogue stick, it's easy to grasp the differences between shooting and dribbling.
That said, we didn't enjoy 'Path to Greatness' as much as the 'Jordan Challenge' from NBA 2K11, and would have preferred to recreate historical moments with a wider selection of iconic players and teams.

Also, it seems like an odd choice to focus on a player who divides fans as much as LeBron James. We could only imagine the backlash if FIFA included a similar mode with Wayne Rooney, for example.

NBA 2K14 screenshot

© 2K Games

Dribbling.



Elsewhere, NBA 2K14 adds Euroleague teams, which is a nice way of acknowledging fans from other countries, and potentially broadening the game's global appeal.

It's a shame, however, that Euroleague teams aren't given their own dedicated game mode, and are seemingly introduced at the expense of Olympic teams, which were only added last year.

It's an oversight that typifies the NBA 2K14 experience. The new additions are welcome, just not as a replacement for superior alternatives from previous releases.

From a gameplay perspective, however, NBA 2K14 is the best it's ever been. Visual Concepts has finally nailed the control scheme, and has introduced lots of minor tweaks across the court, from improved visuals and animations to more realistic physics.

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