Console Game Review: NBA2K16

Publisher: 2K Games

ESRB Rating: T for Teen

Reviewed for Xbox One also available for PS4

Overall

Most of the sports titles on the market today stand alone without any competition. The result if osten a stale environment with games making very small iterative changes with each passing year. NBA basketball is blessed to have two franchises  that are forced to push each other each year in order to innovate. The truth of the matter, though, is that EA Sports’ NBA Live series has not done well in previous years to compete with the 2K sports version and this year doesn’t look much better. The 2K basketball series has traditionally looked better, but this year it feels like comparing Lebron James to the starting point guard for a small high school. We can tell that the fundamentals are are all the same, but one executes on such a level that it doesn’t FEEL like the same sport.

In short? NBA2K16 is a masterclass in sports simulation and is a title I feel comfortable recommending to every NBA fan and even to people who are only casually interested in the NBA itself. It is, without question, the definitive NBA experience this year. It is feature rich, gorgeous, and is meticulous in its exploration of the NBA lifestyle.

The typical game modes are all here and are all excellent. You can play a quick game, you can be the GM for your favorite tea,. and you can obviously play online. But, the game mode that NBA2K16 will be remembered for is going to be the myCareer mode. Why? Because that is the game mode that turned a good basketball game into a “Spike Lee Joint.”

The myCareer mode does this by letting the player take on the role of a high school basketball phenom nicknamed Frequency Vibrations, Freq for short. You take the driver’s seat as he completes his high school career, is recruited to numerous top colleges, is drafted into the NBA and hopefully, ascends to greatness.

A tale of friendship, family, conflicted priorities is woven in between games using motion capture acting that was surprisingly good. The games are played at different levels with varied aesthetic styles. For example, the on screen scoreboard will look just like a standard high school scoreboard during your high school games.

I heaped all of this praise on the game and I haven’t even gotten to the on-the-court action. I’ll save some screen real estate here and just declare that it was sublime. I never really felt like there was much standing between me and making my player do what I wanted.

Family Gaming Assessment

Let’s start with the standard sports simulation disclosure. NBA 2k16 is designed to emulate the television experience so if you are ok with your child watching an NBA game on TV then this should be ok as well.

The myCareer mode does present some off the court material for consumption, but there is nothing to be concerned with here regarding language or violence.

Online play carries the same warnings as usual. The people who play online games are “awful” so make sure you take care to AT LEAST turn off the voice chat while they play.

Playability Assessment

NBA2K16 is not a simple game, but it isn’t insurmountable. A little bit of practice should give anyone familiar with the game of basketball a chance to get a handle on the controls. At the lower difficulties players should be able to compete with the AI teams without a lot of difficulty.

Conclusion

This is going to go down as a classic sports game so I would recommend this game to anyone with even a passing interest in the NBA.

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