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I’m halfway through my first season in My Career mode, and I feel like I can now make a proper review of this game, rather than a first impression.

I’ve previously published my review of Nba 2k13, a great game that had so many bugs and hiccups that kinda ruined the whole experience to me. https://randomibis.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/best-sport-game-ever/

So, how did it go this time?

I’ll try to talk about what I consider the key aspects in this kind of game: graphics, gameplay, balance and technical problems.

Graphics:

There have been some improvements in the way the game looks. It’s not something that I’d consider a milestone, but especially during close up views of players it looks brilliant. The most impressive improvement of 2k14 consists in the smoothness of its graphics. As I mentioned in my previous first impressions, 2k14 is miles ahead of 2k13, and I’m playing them on the same computer. Maybe they worked a bit harder on the optimisation of Ati support, and the result is that now it constantly runs way above 60fps on my i3610qm + 8gb Ram + 7970m, while 2k13 had quite a few drop rates every now and then.

During gameplay you’ll not notice much difference in each player’s model, but it may depend on the fact that I enjoy to have a wide view of the field. If you choose a camera closer to the action you’ll appreciate the new level of detail.

Not everything has been improved though: the public and the arenas are pretty much the same, and I never understood why do they even bother creating the public? It all looks the same, there are so few models it’s almost embarrassing to watch, I’d by far prefer no visible public at all, the sound of cheering and boooo-ing is good enough for me.

The same applies for the press conference, there are like 20 journalist and only 3 models…how many triplets/quadruplets decided to become journalists for the Nba in the last few years? Pretty lazy.

Menus have been slightly modified in the way they look and work, nothing major but the UI looks more polished.

Gameplay:

Keep in mind I play My Career exclusively. I’m not interested in a regular season using a standard Nba team, or the new mode: “LeBron: Path to dumping Cleveland and joining an imba team for the easy win”.

The game plays just as well as 2k13, there are some new additional controls that work with the double stick but if you played 2k13 you’ll feel just at home. The main differences in the gameplay actually concern the overall balance of the game (more on this later).

My Career is pretty much the same as 2k13: rookie showcase, interviews, welcome to the Nba. I preferred previous iterations with a few games before the rookie showcase, and some “training” games during the summer camp. I still miss 2k12 when I was drafted by the Celtics and during our summer league Balls-Don’t-Lie kicked my ass so hard I thought I’d get a GAME-OVER message.

It’s a role-playing-mode, I wish there was more in your character creation rather then just the visual customisation and a few pre-set player attributes. The player you can create is pretty “standard”, I’d prefer to be able to create a player with “weird” attributes and maybe a penalty/bonus to some characteristics accordingly. 225Cm ? Give me a bonus in rebounding and blocking, and a penalty in speed/quickness. And why is a sharpshooter forced to start with weak physical characteristics? May I have a 3p shooter who can also dunk? Petty please?

Game Balance:

A lot has changed here.

One of my major gripes in 2k13 was the low post offence: way too overpowered. If you ever played a centre or power forward in 2k13 you know how it worked: raise your low post skills, get the ability to increase your low post % and the chance for the opponent to fall for your pump fakes, proceed to average 30/40pts a game and raise all your other stats accordingly until you score 50 a game from any position of the field…meh.

Instead of nerfing low post offense, 2k14 improved low post defence, especially when it comes to intercepting a pass and blocking. Blocking is MUCH easier (sometimes TOO easy), and the only move that is relatively safe now is the post hook. In a 1v1 scenario I don’t recall ever being blocked while performing a hook, but I’m always pretty careful and only try it when I’m sure I won’t get double teamed. Fade away shots can be blocked in a much easier way now, and I got my ass kicked quite a few times until I decided to forget fade aways for the time being and focus on other aspects of the game.

The AI has improved a lot and will not usually give up an open look. There are still times when I’d think:”FUUUUUUU why didn’t you take that shot?”, but it only happens a couple of times per game, not a couple of times per minute a-la 2k13. Sometimes it’s possibile to witness some scary shooting streaks: I had a game just a few hours ago where I found my player walking around the field doing nothing because Love, Brewer and Martin on my side, and Kobe and Nash for LA decided to shoot for 3 during 9 (!!!) consecutive actions, and quite a few of those shots were contested, so all that I could do was fight for the rebound. It doesn’t happen often but when it does it feels a bit awkward.

The social media page finally has a point! Social media challenges are an amazing way to boost your stats. Some players will challenge you to score more than X points, or to drop a double/double, and the amount of skill points you can get is very high. I’ve never been a huge fan of the dynamic goals: too random and often come up at the wrong time.

“RECORD ONE BASKET, ONE REBOUND, ONE ASSIST AND ONE BLOCK/STEAL BEFORE THE END OF THE QUARTER”…..”Hey no problem mate, can do, I just need to…..*benched until the end of the quarter*…..wait,wat”.

Social media challenges appear in your SM page and you know what to do before the game starts, so you can focus on scoring, or rebounding or whatever and get a nice SP boost.

A big change is the Gatorade pack. It used to give you god mode during the first quarter of game, while now it increases your stamina for the whole game. The new version is much better especially if you play long games, but it’s also a lot more expensive (2000sp).

Together with the fps improvement, the overall game balance is the thing I currently prefer on 2k14.

Technical problems (and lame stuff):

If I had to write this about 2k13, it would take me forever.

Luckily, 2k14 has improved a lot, and there are only 3 things I can complain about.

a) I want to be able to skip all the intro. 2K13 had the same problem, you HAD to watch part of it, and even if you turn the volume to 0 you still have sound during the intro. Why? Who thought it would be a smart feature?

b) IF I SET THE GAME TO 0 REPLAYS I DON’T WANT TO SEE ANY REPLAY, used to happen on 2k13 and still happens now. Why did they put the replay slider at all? Is it so hard to add a parameter that blocks ALL the replays? Is it a bug or does it work as intended?

c) I want to skip the post game conference. AT LEAST the audio part, I don’t need to spend time hearing the question and the answer. If that (useless) feature is something they they really NEED to keep in the 2k franchise, please give the me chance to get straight to the point, press a random button that has no influence in the game experience and immediately move to the next game.

Something really good: the game doesn’t not get stuck during a match because the referees cannot find the ball or they want to hold it for no reason. There are no bugs during a match, so the game experience has improved a lot to me.

Conclusion:

So, what do I think about 2k14? Is it the bestest ever? Yes. Am I happy about it?

Uhm….that’s a tougher question. The game is great, but rather than a 2k14 it feels like a 2k13.2

After playing half a season with 2k14, my year playing 2k13 suddenly felt like a beta.

2k14 is basically a more polished version of the old game with some improvements, updated rosters but very few differences. Same dialogues (in game and post game), same sound samples, same animations (for the most part), similar graphics (just slightly polished) etc etc…

It’s undoubtedly a better game, but it doesn’t feel fair. What buggers me the most is that the aspects they could have easily improved are very simple (a couple of bugs, a better press conference, a bit of character customisation etc), but they did not invest any time in those. The core of the game is pretty much the same as the last years’, so I honestly don’t think it would have taken them too many resources to make a few adjustments, add 3 or 4 models in the public and the post conference press, and fix a few other minor things that are not game-breaking but currently scream LAZY.

The price of the game (I got it for 29$ on release date) feels fair, if it was a full price 49$ game I’d have felt very upset. Pricing it at 29$ makes me think that 2k Games knew it was not worth 50 bucks, not because it’s a bad game (it’s not, it’s great), but because it’s not a 50$ improvement over 2k13.

For 2k15 I hope they’ll fix those problems that have been part of this game for 2 years now, and that they’ll invest more time improving My Career mode in terms of customisation and character development.

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