Family Video Game Review: NBA2K17

Note: This review originally appeared on Pixelkin.org.

NBA2k17, simply put, a masterpiece that can easily be placed alongside some of the best games in this generation. Yeah. I know what you’re saying.”But, Steve… its JUST a sports game. How can you possibly do that?” The answer is simple. NBA 2k17 is just that good. In fact, I think it is good enough to justify attention from people who don’t even considering themselves hardcore NBA fans.

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The NBA lifestyle is complicated. Players have to balance family, social media, practices, endorsements, and inter-team politics in order to succeed. 2K17 heavily features a MyCareer mode that highlights those challenges as players are thrust into the role of “Prez” a young, brash, and extremely talented high school basketball prospect. A brief stint in college leads to you being drafted somewhere in the first round of the NBA draft. From there you are introduced to Justice Young, voiced by the amazing Michael B. Jordan. Justice was drafted after you and has a chip on his shoulder. Nothing in his life has come easy for him and he sets out to challenge you. That sets the stage for what could be either a rivalry or a great friendship. And you know what? This is where things get cool.

The MyCareer mode plays out from there like an RPG. You have to  balance your schedule to make sure you attend practices, games, and social events with your fellow players. You can even keep track of the state of the game using text messages and an in-game version of Twitter. All of these activities help earn you points that can be spent on skill upgrades.

That may have been my favorite game mode it is far from the only one. There is a full suite of game modes that range from quick play, and online games all the way to a Franchise mode that goes so far as to let you create your own expansion team.

All of these game modes are built on solid basketball mechanics that make it easy for even the most inexperienced games to take their favorite players and execute some amazing moves. 2k Games has been making these games for a while and it shows. They have clearly done their research and tried to create a very accessible control scheme.

Is it a kids’ game?

NBA2k17 is rated E for everyone by the ESRB. According to the rating summary, “This is a basketball simulation game in which players can select teams from real NBA rosters, compete in tournaments, and play through regular seasons. Players can also manage individual franchises and control the careers of their customized athletes. The word “hell” appears in the dialogue.” It is worth noting that the game does feature online gameplay modes and those online interactions are not rated by the ESRB. With that said though, this is not a game that suffers if you don’t take the action online. There is a LOT of game here.

Conclusion

My conclusion shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. This is an absolute must buy for any NBA fans. I also strongly believe that anyone looking for a unique take on the RPG genre should look into this one too.

(Note: This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game. It is also available on the PlayStation 4. There is also a version available for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but they are not as feature rich. This is intended to be a next-gen experience.)

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