Every year, when the NBA season starts, all basketball fans get to see the new edition of NBA 2K14, the best basketball simulator.
The 2014 edition features LeBron James, who has an entire game mode devoted to him, and celebrates the long awaited arrival of Euroleague teams. But do these new additions make NBA 2K14 the best basketball game ever?
LeBron James, this year's star
Each NBA 2K has its own featured player, and this time, it’s LeBron James. The Miami Heat star is present throughout the game, from the cover to the video intro and music that's handpicked by the basketball star.
It's in the LeBron: Path to Greatness mode where you’ll guide his career. In a similar way to the NBA 2K11's mode was devoted to Michael Jordan, 2K14 gives you the opportunity to guide LeBron James’ career. The difference is that you won’t experience the earlier stages of LeBron’s career, as we did with Jordan, but you’ll be with him during his most recent victories.
NBA 2K14 lets you choose between two scenarios. In the first, LeBron will stay with the Miami Heat to reach the peak of his career or in the second, he’ll join another team. In both cases, many challenges are waiting for you, with LeBron who can brag about statistics that reach almost 99%.
Unfortunately, this mode is no more than a succession of games with a script too linear to be convincing. It would’ve been much better if you could choose LeBron’s team, but you can’t.
Another important innovation of NBA 2K14 is the arrival of the 14 Euroleague teams. Will you be able to forget about LeBron while you take part in exhibition games with FC Barcelona, CSKA Moscow, Olympiakos, Panathinaikos, and other big European teams?
In this case, you have to follow the rules of the European league so, in particular, the defensive three second rule of the NBA disappears. What we don’t like is that you have to settle for playing only quick games, in the absence of a game mode devoted entirely to the Euroleague teams.
Last, we shouldn’t forget that these two new options are only an addition to a game that was already solid. NBA 2K14 still comes with all the classic modes of the franchise: My Player, My Career, online mode, and training.
These modes haven’t evolved, but they are the ones that have made this game become the number one NBA game we all know. On the other hand, My Team mode is back. With this mode, you can take part in online tournaments with your friends and the player you created in My Player mode.
Excellent game sensation
NBA 2K14 comes with several gameplay improvements. You’ll notice the most important one if you are using a controller to play, as it involves using of the right analog stick (Pro Stick), that will let you do just about anything with the ball: show-stopping moves or intricate shots.
These changes try to make the game accessible to new players by offering more intuitive controls. However, you must be careful not to hold the analog stick for too long when you want to make a fake shot because you run the risk of shooting by mistake. If you use it together with the left trigger, the control lever allows you to make no-look passes to your teammates.
Users can take advantage of additional movements either to block or pass the ball (between the legs, behind the back, bounce pass). The blocking system has been perfected and we like it, as it lets you intercept the ball and block (chase-down blocks). There are no more ghost arms blocking the ball!
The artificial intelligence has also been perfected, so it’s much harder to break the defense. It's more robust and better positioned around the free throw area, so it will be more difficult to overcome. From now on, mediocre players can’t just aim for the basket, but must find space and the right combinations to throw the ball or to overcome blockers.
With a press of a button you can get tactical help, and it will display a gray circle in the position on the court where the player with the ball, or one of his teammates, should be to have a higher chance of scoring.
Overall, the game sensation of NBA 2K14 is great with a wide range of strategy and controls.
Like watching it on TV
Presentation has always been one of the core strengths of NBA 2K series. Every year, Visual Concepts do its best to offer an experience that is similar to watching an NBA game on TV.
The introduction scenes, the audience cheering, and commentators with 3,000 new animations help create a great atmosphere both on the court and on the other side of the screen.
New animations show players’ reactions in more detail: their excitement after a great shot or frustration on the bench after a bad pass. Those who like watching the NBA games may even recognize the movements and the attitudes of certain players, thanks to Signature Moves.
In addition, NBA 2K14 has fixed several bugs, especially for blocks and rebounds (before the ball passed through arms). Now everything works and players react in a more realistic way to each situation.
As for the soundtrack, LeBron handpicked the playlist. Kanye West, Nas, Daft Punk, Gorillaz, and many more will join you in the game, along with the voices of the commentators Steve Kerr, Kevin Harlan, and Clark Kellogg. As always, NBA 2K14 is only in English.
For now, the best basketball game
NBA 2K14 isn't a huge step forward, but it has always had solid content and provides a sense of unparalleled gaming.
New animations offer greater realism and we're happy to see the arrival of Euroleague teams, despite the absence of a dedicated game mode.
But is NBA 2K14 truly the best basketball game? Yes, and it’s easy to see why, since it’s the only good game available after the NBA Live series stopped. However, EA Sports could decide to launch a PC version of this game, which is coming back for PS4 and Xbox One after so many years. The golden age of NBA 2K14 could end soon!