It’s finally time for me to dig in to reviewing PS4 games, not so much because of any sort of embargo or any of the likes. But mainly because I’ve been trying to get a good feel for these games. And NBA 2k14 has had me cultivated to say the least.
The part about NBA that really caught my eye was that it plays great and the visuals are amazingly detailed, far more than on current gen consoles, which was to be expected right? At least the visuals were expected, but the game play, I had some reservations about that.
Let me be honest, the last NBA game I played before 2k14 was NBA 2k11, and while that game was good, it wasn’t great in my eyes. And I feel like 3 years later that NBA 2k is mainly the same but looks prettier and the defense appears better than in the past which is good because the old games for me used to be scoring fests, and it still is, but to a much lesser extent.
In terms of gameplay, I like it, the game feels very fluid whether you are walking the ball up the court, or driving to the hoop for a hoop the players look and feel very good. The defense from 2k11 to 2k14 appears much improved, mainly in terms of contesting shots and grabbing rebounds on the defensive glass. Perhaps defensive rebounds are a little too easy for the CPU to snatch.
I think the most fun of all of the gameplay is trying to match up man to man against your opponent, this is even more the case in MyCareer mode where you guard your assignment it is up to the CPU team mates to do their job otherwise whatever work you’ve done to stifle your opposing point guard in my case is completely worthless, and against great teams that is typically the case.
The coaching parts of the game are a bit annoying since none of the settings previously saved seem to stay, so every time you play you have to turn timeouts, substitutions, and points of emphasis from auto to manual if you like making your own choices, and personally it adds to the depth of the experience trying to do things all on your own. That’s not to say auto is a bad way to play, but for someone like me it is not ideal if you’re somewhat of a control freak. And coming from someone who is addicted to the NHL hockey series from EA, I usually set those type of things up so I am used to making those decisions and that translates into this basketball series, even if my knowledge of basketball is not nearly to the level of what it is for hockey, baseball or football I still want to make these decisions, even if it sinks my team like it usually does.
I loved the career mode in NBA 2k11, the post game interviews were really the best thing about the mode back then because you could be a complete jerk and really have no drawbacks from anyone. Sure your team mates would never get you the ball but surely that was just because they were afraid to be exposed for the frauds that they were.
But in the MyCareer mode in NBA 2k14, things have changed, and not for the better. First off back in NBA 2k11 you were speaking to the media right out of the gate, but now, the only time I speak to the media is if I do something terribly wrong like have a bad night on the court. There is literally nothing to do most games in between outside of meeting with the coach and GM every now and then except for when the vets try to haze you. And you better believe I wasn’t going to be hazed by Elton Brand, and it showed on the practice court one time where my player had a bit of a dust up with Brand on the practice court. Trust me, he didn’t scare me, I was ready to put him on the ground. But outside of these rare occurrences and a chance at a “film study” which is merely a cut scene with no film to go over which is a disappointment since that could have been a nice touch to have pointers from these supposed mentors like Al Horford was mine.
Plus there seems to a period where you have to wait to be traded, I’ve yet to have the option to demand a trade from my current team, which is a shame because they blow so badly. I mean sure real superstars lift cruddy teams, but the idiot coach that I deal with only plays me 8 minutes a game, he’d be lucky to get blown out by 20 points a game with the way he misuses the talent that he has on the team.
But in all seriousness, this mode really does restrict what you can and can not do, I don’t even think there is a practice mode to work on timing your shots, free throws or whatever you want to work on, so the days of practicing and earning points towards your ratings have gone by. Now in order to improve you need to use virtual coins, and that is not the only thing that virtual coins are used for in the mode, but it is the most annoying. Instead of being rewarded for working on your game in a practice mode, you literally have to wing it and hope to get your timing down in a game which is never an easy time to learn your player in any game. In fact the only practice you really get is a 5 on 5 practice with team mates once in a blue moon. Therefore the only time you get to get used to your player is in game, or in these 5 on 5 scrimmages, which in all actuality, is a big problem that I bet 2k never considered.
Another thing with the mode that is an oversight in my mind is that when that rare case comes where you actually have a chance to interact with a team mate you are forced to read from subtitles on the screen. Why? Because there is literally no voice acting outside of when you are going up against your rival in the rookie showcase and later in your career and I believe the LeBron James cut scene was also done with voice acting, but if you want a mentor on your actual team, or someone who is acted out in a way where you can feel the interaction and you’ll be let down in that regard.
Kind of like MyCareer mode, the MyGM mode is limited on things you can do, and that is mostly because a lot of the things you would do is being held back by virtual currency, that’s right in game fake money. How absurd is this problem? Well lets put it this way, remember the days were you could do your own player rotations? Yes? Good, because now such a simple task will set you back a cool 500 VC.
That’s right, the things that should be available from the start are sometimes tied to VC, like the rotations, the hiring/firing of scouts, the CFO, the assistant GM, and various coaches are now tied to virtual coins. It may sound absurd, and in reality it is. In fact for review purposes I ended up spending the $10 PSN wallet voucher I got with my PS4 pre-order and I ended up buying 35,000 virtual coins or whatever you want to call it, just so I didn’t have to play games to earn VC, I did that because that was A) too time consuming for the review process which is now 3 or 4 weeks in the making as it is, and B) it didn’t sit well for people who typically like to simulate their way through their career mode and just play various rivalry/playoff games with their favorite teams.
The mode isn’t all bad though even if I did start out bashing it. The experience is definitely different and a step in the right direction for GM type modes. But it isn’t perfect by any means, not only is Virtual Coins an issue, but the depth of the dialogue boxes are disappointing, You literally see the same replied throughout the season when dealing with your scout, trainer, and head coach. There is little variation in that respect, though I do like the boxes for the free agents, but then again, the replies are limited, and grow tiresome.
The good news is that actual GM work like trades, and free agent signings are not hindered by VC nor is setting up your coach options for game plans, for some reason they targeted rotations but I do not recall them hitting an other coaching method outside of encouragement traits but as the GM that doesn’t matter all that much. If you want to full experience expect to pay a lot of VC throughout your experience with MyGM, I spent roughly 30,000 VC of the 35,000 I got from my voucher on MyGM and it still only filled up half of the badges as it was within the mode. The ones that I didn’t fill were tied to staff contract reductions and little things like that which have little to no effect on how the team is run.
I played one quick 2min quarter game with a friend and it went okay, there was no lag at all on my end, and he didn’t report any issues. However this experience is not typical if reports are to be believed from players on other sites such as Operation Sports and PastaPadre. I feel bad for those players, I think if online is as smooth as what me and my friend had that one night then the game would be a really big success all around, but it seems like their is some problems with online and unless it’s fixed gamers won’t be able to fully enjoy the experience.
NBA 2k14 is a great game on the court in my opinion. Coming from 2k11, the game feels a lot better and the defense appears to be tougher to play against, in particular inside passes to the hoop are hard to make, which is good because that would be exploited big time if that was an easy dish every time up court. The only minor complaint to me would probably be the CPU rebounding being a little too overpowering.
The MyCareer and MyGM modes are decent, not great.
In the case of MyCareer it feels like the mode suffers from a lack of a practice mode, and ways to develop your player outside of using virtual coins. The lack of things to do in between games is a little sickening for a mode that has so much potential to be amazing, you can’t even use the social media function yourself, the only good that does is looking for comments about you, and some challenges from upcoming opponents. But you yourself cannot interact in anyway making the social media screen and function underused and a missed opportunity.
Maybe once I advance more into MyCareer it will be better, but for now I will call it a missed opportunity for 2k to make a big impact on the mode. In fact in several ways it feels like a bit of a step back at this point.
On the other hand MyGM is actually a really good mode, which might surprise some people with as much as I ragged on it. But the over importance of virtual coins in the mode really stops it from being a huge success in the short term, also hurting the mode is the lack of variation in the dialogue boxes between you, and your coaches and players take away from an asset that can be critical to the modes success in the long term. I mean I don’t mind earning the skills needed to be a successful GM but at least give me the basics like player rotations right from the start.
Despite that though, MyGM has the makings to be a success in the long term if they do some of my suggestions. But what the mode misses with that it more than makes up for with a good simulation engine, an impressive draft presentation (though I wish we could skip after the first go round since it doesn’t change at all outside of the names being called), and outstanding scouting reports that include a strengths and weaknesses section which I loved from the old NBA Live games. There are also plenty of stats, and rumors to sort through if that is your thing as well.
The game overall is a very good experience and should be in any next generation line-up, not only does it look great but it also plays great. The modes are either hit or miss, it will depend on the player and how much he/she is willing to put up with. But as a whole the game is definitely a buy in my book mainly on gameplay alone, which is saying a lot since I am usually a GM Mode type of player in these sports games.