I immensely enjoyed NBA 2K13 last year, scoring it an eight in my review. It’s a game that has seen a lot of action in my house and the MyCareer mode was a thing of beauty, so I was interested to see how 2K would move the franchise forward. It’s definitely had some changes, and some of them are glaringly bad, with a couple of positives too.
When I started up NBA 2K14 I went right for MyCareer mode again. There is a much more fleshed out story and the relationships between you and other members of the NBA is much more rounded, with players issuing challenges over social media. As with last year, you don’t choose the first team you play for but are picked during a draft round after a Rookie Showcase.
The post game conferences, which were a nightmare to work out, after every match are gone. Instead, team chemistry is affected by interactive cutscenes between your avatar and other players. I much preferred this system.
The gameplay is solid enough, though I did have an issue with my assigned target players being switched during plays that ended up with me defending the wrong person, even though I was assigned to them seconds before. It’s an issue that was in 2K13 which I had hoped would be resolved but it sadly remains here.
There hasn’t been a complete overhaul in how the game plays with controls almost entirely similar to the previous iteration, including having the option of shooting using the right analog or a face button, while defending is mainly handled with the right analog. Dynamic goals also made a return, where the coach gives you a target to achieve while playing a match, though not all of them are achievable when you first start out.
Presentation wise, NBA 2K14 is absolutely beautiful with vivid colours and incredibly well done player animations. When a player speaks during a cutscene the mouth movement matches words to a tee, and visually it is an amazing looking game. Also you’ll get actual air footage of the city you’re playing in before a match begins.
The in game commentary once again takes my award for the best commentary of any sports game, though there is some recycling of lines from last year. There is also 2K’s Real Voice system where real life interviews with players are used during matches either during half time or post game, to comment on plays or the score. It brings the sense of realism up and is a brilliant addition.
You can upgrade your player again using Virtual Currency (VC) similar to last year, however this is where the first glaring issue arises. In NBA 2K13 you had the option to play a set number of skill games to earn extra VC, but they’re gone from NBA 2K14. Instead you have dreaded microtransactions, where you can buy extra VC to improve your player’s stats.
They’re optional of course but as a result it feels like it is a lot harder to earn points to receive upgrades and improve your player. The reward payouts also seemed less compared to last year turning MyCareer into a bit of a grind instead of a smooth progression.
VC ties all three main elements of the game together including MyCareer, MyGM and MyTeam. MyGM is the management mode of NBA 2K14 where you control every aspect of a team from playing the games to sorting out the finances, whereas MyTeam is similar to FIFA’s Ultimate Team.
I enjoyed the MyGM mode due to the amount of control I had over the team, with everything from the on court action to scouting for new players, managing backroom staff, setting the prices for games and concessions, and bringing improvements to the team. It is a proper management mode that can take up hours of your life.
MyTeam is something I only dabbled with a little because I didn’t really like how it was set up. The menus were a bit tough to navigate (a complaint for most of the game actually), and I didn’t think it quite had the depth of similar modes in other games, like Ultimate Team, but with some time I’m sure it can be great.
VC is mainly used between MyCareer and MyGM to purchase improvements, but having the same balance to split between both modes makes it tough to decide whether you want to spend to improve your player in MyCareer, or increase his attributes in MyGM where he is the general manager of the team. I would have preferred the two to have been split so I didn’t feel like I was sacrificing points for one mode over another.
The biggest and most glaringly terrible feature that wasn’t discussed during the release of the game is that it requires an online connection to play any game if you’ve started a save while online. This, I feel, is probably tied to Virtual Currency which is saved to 2K’s own servers and not locally. In order to play anything other than a Quick Match offline, you’ll need to start a whole new save.
The error screen above presented itself when my internet was down briefly while I wanted to play MyCareer. I couldn’t access the mode at all and the same went for the other modes too. This is a major blow to the franchise and something that should have been explained clearly prior to release.
The choice shouldn’t be have an internet connection or start again from scratch while your access is down, because the single player game save should be saved locally. Obviously if I can’t access MyTeam without the internet that’s fair enough, but when it’s a single player save that gets locked out it becomes a whole other, very frustrating, ball game.
NBA 2K14 is a gorgeous looking game, with a vastly improved MyCareer mode and an in depth MyGM mode. MyTeam is something that will take plenty of time to get into and enjoy. However the inclusion of microtransactions and the need for an internet connection have a major impact on how easy it is to recommend this game. Still, it’s the best basketball game on the market.