Throughout my life I’ve always been a basketball fan. It’s a love affair that started when I was young and playing ball with friends everyday after school and eventually on real teams. At some point, though, I stopped paying attention to basketball, really only giving it any attention during March Madness each year. This year, though, I decided I missed the game, and want to really follow the NBA because to me it’s one of the most entertaining sports both on the court and off. Sports games have always been a great way to keep up with who is on what team when I’ve been out of the loop and helps me get back up to speed on the sport in some ways.
I played 2K16 on a PS3, which differs greatly from the current gen version. Firstly, it doesn’t include the new Spike Lee story for MyCareer is absent, which is a good thing from what I’ve seen of it. Other game modes are absent as well but all of the important things are there as well. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in every game mode available and I can definitely say this is the most fun I’ve had in a sports game in quite some time.
Gameplay on the court is fantastic. For a long time now, NBA 2K has been the best playing sports game to me personally, and this year doesn’t change. Gameplay is easy to pickup, and very difficult to master. The right stick can be used to perform very precise moves that really make it feel like performing an impressive move compared to just hitting a button and watching an animation. In fact, there is really no time when the player is locked into an animation and doesn’t have control like in many other great sports games (looking at you MLB: The Show). The AI feels like a real team, performing smart plays and properly adapting to pretty much any situation. In fact, I think I enjoy playing against the AI more than another human player.
Franchise/association modes have always been the main attraction to me in sports games as I love being able to control every aspect of a team and not be confined to a single role during gameplay. NBA 2K16 does not disappoint. The Association game mode is fantastic as always. Having a good team feels good, and there are real moves that can be made to help out lesser teams to really build up the franchise even if it takes a season or two. Commentators do a good job of really sounding like people who are watching the game, and not just piling on repetitive cookie cutter comments like many games.
Even though I rarely enjoy career modes (aka create a player and play as him), I actually find it the most engaging mode in 2K16. On the floor, playing is fun and kept interesting by a “teammate” rating that constantly updates on screen as you perform actions on the court. The use of fake social media, press conferences and meetings with the GM make it really feel like a career and not just controlling one guy instead of a whole team like most other games’ career mode. Even as a bench player the game does a great job of making the player feel like they are filling an important role on the team.
Online, as always, was broken at release because the 2K servers are never able to handle the load on release day. Now that things have calmed down though, online works fine and is fun. The main attraction to online gameplay is MyTeam, a mode that is trying to recreate the success EA Sports games have found with their Ultimate Team mode. MyTeam doesn’t feel as refined as Ultimate Team, though. Building a team feels like a chore simply due to how long one has to play with a terrible team before building anything resembling a real team. Sadly, this is probably on purpose because one can simply buy virtual currency in NBA 2K16 via micro-transactions. Other online modes are fun, though, especially when playing against someone who knows what they’re doing. The problem is, of course, finding those people, because otherwise you might want to just thrown your controller at the screen while playing someone who things it’s NBA JAM in an arcade.
NBA 2K16 has helped me rekindle my love for basketball simply from how well every aspect is handled. Even the soundtrack is great and probably in my all time top 5 favorite soundtracks. I can only hope the upcoming NBA season will be as captivating as the virtual one has been. Go Clippers!