What to me is just a game that I can and do enjoy watching on the odd occasion, is something very special and meaningful to others. Basketball isn’t the most followed sport in countries such as our own so please forgive me, those of you who are big fans of the game, and more importantly – those of you are huge fans of the series, if my review is somewhat juvenile. What I do know is that the NBA 2K series has always been enjoyed by basketball fans worldwide and that there is high expectation to keep expanding the capabilities of the game and improving on something that is already very successful.
The first indication to me that this was something followers of the sport would enjoy was the character that 2k16 generates and the thought process that 2K had to undertake to make this a real sport simulator. This stretches from guiding your own created player from rags to riches to managing a whole team. The delivery is full of style and possesses a unique personality lending itself to the world of basketball with interviews, pre- and post-game analysis and cleverly scripted cut-scenes making 2K16 all the more captivating.
This is seen most in MyPlayer Mode, where the story is narrated and told through cut-scenes that genuinely last ages. This isn’t a problem though and adds to the idea that is MyPlayer. Briefly, you design your own character with any physical features that your heart desires and step into the shoes of “Freq”, an adequately talented basketball prodigy. I say this because of my skill level, not Freq’s. You commence your journey by choosing a school to hone your skills and hopefully secure a scholarship from a major college. After a few games you will receive numerous college offers and the sheer amount of available teams is impressive and truly shows the strength of the game abroad. The arenas at which you play throughout are brilliantly designed and small inclusions keep things realistic and interesting. School courts differ from college courts and so on. From this point however, the storyline becomes rather linear and once you get an offer from a team in the NBA it is up to you to achieve your dream. Regardless of the predictability of it all, the end result is that you constantly feel as though you’re watching some kind of interactive movie, albeit probably annoying for those who just want to play ball. This set up is unique to sports games generally and although there aren’t the gameplay choices and consequences found in other genres, 2K16 captures the idea very well. You will get all sorts of neat surprises throughout your MyPlayer career, from endorsements to high class training facilities and intriguing player interactions. This all increases your character’s ratings and keeps players interested in creating their own personal dream professional. The plot of the storyline captures a realistic view of the choices that are made by professional athletes and the classic conundrum that arises between continuing school or becoming a rich and famous sports idol.
In terms of gameplay, 2K16 presses all the right buttons so to speak and graphically, this is excellent. Perhaps that may be because I don’t recognise all of the players but those that I am familiar with are as accurate as they come. 2K16 is not a difficult title to play once you get the hang of things and the learning curve isn’t too long – it can be steep though. I would imagine that somebody with a more diverse knowledge of the game would give me a hiding but playing against lower level AI was fun and I spent more hours than I would ever have expected. I would have played online, and did attempt to do so, but unfortunately I was met with connection problems and this caused more of a hindrance than needed. For newcomers, the learning curve is made trickier as there isn’t a proper form of training or tutorial to ready you for things to come. I would say that this is something that was missing and should be developed for future titles in the series.
Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the array of passing available to players and the camera angles assist in locating that killer ball. The camera switches and the timing can also take a bit of practice but once mastered it works so well. The game is creative, both in real life and in 2K16, and encourages cheeky fake shots and diversity in decision making. All these things work like a dream once familiar and this is not the hardest thing to achieve, but as mentioned there is not much help along the way. Aside from MyPlayer mode and the stuttering online modes, there are other options, including those that allow for the customization of a franchise team. As with the FIFA series there is also a take on a basketball collectible card-type game.
I do have a lot of positive to say about 2K16 without doubt, but I do find that it will be a title that I won’t put back in after I take it out. That gripe though, is based on the fact that I am not a huge follower of the sport and although I enjoy watching it every now and then, I was never able to enjoy the game to its full worth. I may have been able to do this with a holistic tutorial. Graphically it is great, and the same can be said of the gameplay and the inventive modes. I think the conclusion is rather simple in this though – if you enjoy basketball then I’d suggest that you get your hands on 2K16, if not then get something else.
NBA 2K16 Rating: 7/10
Check out the NBA 2K16 website: NBA