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NBA 2K14 PS4 review

Great
AT A GLANCE
  • Amazingly realistic player models
  • My Career is a proper story now
  • Largely improved presentation
  • Recycled stuff really sticks out
  • Some player models get lost in the uncanny valley

Elton Brand has just ordered me to carry his suitcase onto the Atlanta Hawks team bus. I politely tell Elton that he can go fuck himself. He stands there scowling at me, and informs me that this isn’t over, and that rookies like me should be ‘more respectful’. No, I’m not having some kind of basketball-themed cheese-dream. I’m playing the new My Career mode in NBA 2K14 next-gen, and it’s… bizarre.

Visual Concepts has made some significant changes to NBA 2K14 for next-gen. I’ll return to the My Career, and other mode stuff, in a minute--but first: how does it look, and how does it actually play? Well, the first thing you’ll notice is the fact that it's incredibly gorgeous. Crowds are now much more varied, advertising screens reflect beautifully onto the hardwood, and players look eerily lifelike. Some are better likenesses than others--Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant are highlights--but on the whole it’s amazing to see how realistic they look. It’s great to see legendary players recreated in such detail too.

Animations and collision physics are improved too. Players now transition more smoothly from one animation to the next, which makes you feel more in control of everything you do. There’s a real game of cat and mouse every time you try to stop a nippy point-guard like Jrue Holiday driving to the basket, because every bump and shove feels more natural. As a result, the whole game feels quicker and more urgent.

There are problems, though. Players occasionally snap to animations, which feels like a real loss of precision. Example: my opponent sets a screen to free up an outside shot. I shouldn’t be bothered by the screen because there’s a gap for me to squeeze past, but the game automatically puts my player into the stumble animation because he’s deemed to be within the ‘screened zone’. On the infrequent occasions this happens, it can be deeply frustrating. 

Presentation is a mixed bag too. I love the new Points of Emphasis options that allow you to pick general offensive and defensive styles at any time (so you can shut down an opponent’s perimeter game, for example, without delving into the pause menu), and the new substitute system is more intuitive. Much of the commentary, sadly, is ripped straight from 2K14 on current-gen, which itself was chock-full of repeated banter. Again, it’s something that feels old in a game that looks and plays wonderfully new.

Finally, Doris Burke. After many years of just being a photo and a voice, Doris now appears as an in-game character, interviewing players at half-time and after the game. It’s a fantastic idea, and the players look and sound natural as they talk about how the game is going. Doris, however, stands next to them like a waxwork, stiffly holding a microphone in their general direction. Doris is trapped in the uncanny valley. She’s bought a house in the uncanny valley. She’s having her mail forwarded to the uncanny valley. It’s an example of a great idea being sullied by not-quite-perfect execution.

The next-gen difference

Player models and on court visuals are the most obvious differences. Facial textures are much lower res on PS3/360, while animations are smoother on next-gen, which makes gameplay quicker and more natural--ideal if you’re using the ProStick controls.

While My Career is all menus, messages, and waxwork David Stern on PS3 and 360, the next-gen version of 2K14 has brand-new cut-scenes and a proper story. And a higher-res waxwork David Stern. The pacing is different too--My Career on current-gen just throws you straight in, whereas PS4’s career mode tells a tale about your first game, your draft, your team-mate friendships etc.

Which brings us neatly back to the modes. My Career--the series’ most popular aspect of the game--has been transformed into a soap opera. Your character (I called mine Bagpipe Outlaw) now appears in cut-scenes where he chats to his agent, talks smack with rivals, and even drives to the stadium in his car. It’s a natural extension of the traditional career mode, and adds heaps of depth to the concept of ‘having a career in the NBA’, so the intention is admirable.

There are some neat moments, like when your agent pops round to your flat for a game of NBA 2K (so self-referential), or when you see your character fretting for their career at the draft ceremony. However, for every neat little scene, there’s an immersion-ruining let-down. Your character still has that generic voice that doesn’t quite fit any face, and for all the fancy new presentation, post-game press conference questions and pre-draft interviews are virtually identical to those in 2K13 and 2K12. It’s a real shame that old-game dialogue has been retro-fitted into this next-gen presentation.

The worst part, however, is the way that actual players and coaches can’t speak at all (because they haven’t been voice captured)--so while you chat to team mates, they stand staring at you like a dead-eyed serial killer while their portion of the conversation appears as a subtitle on the bottom of the screen. It’s a little… creepy. Recording dialogue from every player in the NBA, though, is a near-impossible task, so while this halfway house is a little unsettling, it’s understandable. I’d rather have the player interactions this way than not have them at all.

In all, My Career deserves big plaudits for breathing life back into the mode--it’s a welcome refresh, if imperfectly executed. My GM (former Association) has been given a presentation overhaul too, and you can now choose a specialisation when you start, to give preferable conditions on things like contract negotiation, training costs, team-mate chemistry, etc. It’s much more pleasant than digging through the imposing spreadsheet menus of the current-gen version, but the depth is still there. My Team? The new Park online mode? They’re still in the game, but I haven’t had chance to play them before release. 2K is promising tournaments for My Team, which will allow you to win rare players, so that sounds good at least.

Overall, NBA 2K14 on next-gen is ambitious, but flawed. While the majority of the on-court improvements are brilliant, they’re let down by certain aspects of the presentation that either feel old or imperfectly implemented. Don’t misunderstand: this is absolutely the best version of NBA 2K14, but despite the big visual and storytelling improvements, the game has brought plenty of baggage with it from current-gen. And no, I’m not putting those bags on the bus either, Elton…

More Info

Release date: Nov 15 2013 - PS4
Nov 22 2013 - Xbox One
Oct 01 2013 - Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
Oct 04 2013 - Xbox 360, PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Sports
Franchise: NBA 2K
ESRB Rating:
Everyone

On court, this is probably the best-looking launch game on PS4, and a real step forward for the 2K series. The new story mode is novel, but far from perfect.

This game was reviewed on PS4.

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34 comments

  • kevin-michael-wright - March 10, 2014 6:25 p.m.

    Next time NBA makes the gameplay staged to where it doesn't matter how good you play I am going to find Lebron and Jay-z themselves and stomp them both in the nuts 800 times
  • adsonlist - January 27, 2014 5:06 p.m.

    You can download the NBA 2k14 crack at this link http://www.cracksgame.org/nba-2k14-crack/. I just want to share and it's fReE
  • mike-martin - December 26, 2013 10:45 p.m.

    This is easily the worst NBA2K game in history; however they did fix a few lackluster features and added some cool ideas. This game is literally unplayable, riddled with bugs and glitches, and has a horrendous sever problem. To say that NBA2K14 is a good "My Career" game is to patently lie as the previous years though not story rich had much better functionality. In NBA2K14 you can run through players on the other team as if you are a ghost... Enough said.
  • TyN - February 17, 2014 3:47 p.m.

    Don't forget about the passing problems, shooting inconsistencies, the unrealistic decisions, and over dramatic moves when trying to steal the ball (from player or pass).
  • KadeemAli - December 24, 2013 12:50 p.m.

    This is also a problem for me after being invited to the rising-star game. Im wondering if this is a problem with the game or the system. Im don't know which to take back. I'm currently not connected to the internet with my system, so I'm not sure if it'd automatically update something if i were. Is anyone else who's having this problem connected to the internet?
  • coco_12 - December 10, 2013 9:51 a.m.

    How come when im playin mycareer, my player is 79 overall but when I go to play online in the park he is 25 overall! Why is this and how do I make him better?
  • chris2k - December 28, 2013 9:12 p.m.

    same thing with me my carrer player is like 82 and my park player is 25 overall let me know if you find a result please
  • craig-mcguire - December 3, 2013 5:32 p.m.

    Can you play a season using a team? Any game i play i can only control one player..?
  • roseelf - November 30, 2013 10:37 p.m.

    Do we, the players, ever get interviewed by Doris Burke? Like @halftime or after a win (when i kick a$$)? Just curious...
  • mike-martin - December 26, 2013 10:51 p.m.

    Nope, though at the end of the games in My Career mode you get interviewed by random and unknown people and the female happens to have her voice.
  • rodney-dale-suggs - November 28, 2013 9:35 a.m.

    Im having trouble passing a part in mycareer i dont know what to do?
  • cajuante-johnson - November 24, 2013 7:46 p.m.

    This game is pure and utter trash!!! The 2K developers should be ashamed of themselves for producing a subpar product like this and passing it off as legit. From fraudulent fouls, calls, and plays, (oh, and don't forget the ghost feature, where players turn into vapors as the ball and opposing players pass directly through them) it's enough to make you lose your religion. The only redeeming quality of this game is the fact that it highlights how watered down the NBA has truly become. The game has a freakin' flop button, smh. Good going 2K. You all need to return to whatever platform you used for 2K11, because that was the best game you have ever produced. You guys continue to disappoint.
  • OmegaFlame - December 14, 2013 6:55 p.m.

    Don't forget no Franchise or Association Mode,player customization no stat edit,salary edit or anything.It was a big let down for me i took it back for a refund.Hopefully next year they can get thing right,because i know i'm not the only one who's complaining of these things.
  • RamReyez3 - November 22, 2013 4:38 p.m.

    My game freezes in My career freezes when I get to the point where it congratulates me for making the the rising stars challenge on my PS4? Is their a bug in the game or is it just my game?
  • Maki72 - November 25, 2013 8:35 a.m.

    I'm having the same problem. Any luck getting it fixed. It's not like it freezes, it just won't let me press x to continue. Please HELP!!
  • stewart3g - December 2, 2013 9:27 a.m.

    My game do the same thing have you found anyway past it
  • delvin-wilson - November 20, 2013 5:20 a.m.

    In the game, I try to change my players shoes and give him a sleeve but when I start the game it's back to the default player. Does anyone know how to fix that?
  • astyanax83 - November 20, 2013 10:11 a.m.

    Make sure you actually Equip the items after buying them. I had the same issue until I went back and noticed that.
  • RamReyez3 - November 22, 2013 4:48 p.m.

    How do you equip the items? Do I have to use my VC points?
  • justin-orr - November 17, 2013 4:04 p.m.

    does anyone know if you can request a trade in my player? or play only key games, can not find how to meet with the gm and request a trade, please help

Showing 1-20 of 34 comments

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