NBA 2K14 PS4 review – No signs of fadeaway from this annual hall-of-famer
Damn, those shorts swish realistically in NBA 2K14 on PS4. Admittedly short-swishing isn’t the most crucial facet of such a technical sports simulation, but all the same there’s been a team of people at Visual Concepts working tirelessly, pulling all-nighters and subsisting on takeout pizza until the shorts swished perfectly. Because that’s what it takes to reach these heights.
NBA 2K has evidenced a clear mantra in recent years: if it’s in the game, it’s polished like a championship ring. In this graphically disarming PS4 version of 2K14, Visual Concepts puts the same effort into flowing garments as it does player animations, AI or presentation. The result of its obsessive attention to detail is a more enjoyable and convincing game of basketball than anything that came before it.
This is a very different game to the slightly listless PS3 release. Wholesale changes have been made to MyPlayer mode (FIFA’s Be A Pro, only much better), transforming it into a kind of interactive movie starring your user-created NBA hopeful as the leading man. There are heroes, villains and dialogue wheels where last year there were only menus. It’s all very One Tree Hill, which is to say utterly fantastic. The array of high fidelity facial hair for your avatar is worthy of praise by itself.
One-player court control feels human and responsive. With countless new animations in the bank, your lumbering seven-foot center feels grounded yet athletic (in 2K13, controlling bigger players felt like dragging a dog about on its hind legs). Together with the off-court melodrama, MyPlayer’s depth of control is enough to have you forget about burning so much Virtual Currency on last year’s game.
As with the PS3 version, blocking and stealing is less about contextual animations and stats and more about rewarding good timing and anticipation, though outside of MyPlayer when you’re controlling all players, defensive situations can get a bit soupy. Having three men attempting a block within a foot of each other is a witheringly common sight as you struggle to control the right man at the right time. Time on D is frequently frustrating not because you feel under-equipped to deal with scoring threats, but because you know there’s a tonne of control options you haven’t committed to muscle memory yet. NBA 2K’s depth can be scary at first, and while offence can sussed with some right stick experimentation, control of the other side of the court isn’t communicated particularly well.
From the first bounce, it feels like a genuinely new generation of sports game has arrived
Less significant are odd moments of sloppiness like Doris Burke’s courtside interviews, in which gazillion-poly models of NBA stars stand beside what appears to be an animatronic doll of Ms Burke. These interviews really add to the atmosphere by using sound bites from real interviews last season, but there’s no denying that Doris lacks that championship ring polish – as does the scenery in MyGM’s many cut-scenes.
But you won’t be thinking about the low-rent sets or recycled commentary while you play. You’ll be thinking about the swishy uniforms, and the high drama both off court and on. From the first bounce, it feels like a genuinely new generation of sports game has arrived. All the depth, drama and longevity you take for granted by now, and even some new ideas to match its next-gen looks.