Competition always brings out the best out of publishers. This is more and more evident with the NBA name as EA’s offering continues to pale in comparison with the 2K NBA games every year. With NBA 2K17 chock full of quality content and only a few flaws, 2K have released one of the best sports games in recent times.
The first thing you will notice is just how polished everything feels in 2K17. The menus, interface, and finally the actual gameplay. There’s a nice tutorial in the form of 2KU if you’ve never played a game in the series and it teaches you the basics and some advanced tips for passing and shooting. 2K17 is a simulation game and it gives you a ton of customisation options for gameplay and difficulty. This lets you tweak the difficulty as you please to make it more accessible or harder if you’ve been playing the games for a while. Aside from the main play mode that lets you quickly get into a game, enhancements have been made to other modes as well.
There’s a new timing aspect to the actual gameplay on the court and you will notice this as soon as you get into a game. You don’t need to wait for any canned animations anymore while playing and like I said above, you can make the controls and the gameplay as simple or complex as you want through the options. Animations are a lot smoother and you’d be pressed to tell 2K17 being a game as opposed to a game being broadcast when it comes to the accurate gameplay animations.
MyCareer mode in 2K17 is really great. This year Aaron Covington (of Creed fame) directed and wrote the mode. Michael Jordan also plays a part and the overall mode, which feels like an RPG-sports game hybrid, is memorable, albeit grindy. You start out by creating a custom character who plays a few games in college to be drafted into the NBA. The plot has some humour and is pretty good overall even with cutscenes making it feel more immersive rather than a story that’s taking place and you just being thrown in on the side. I like that FIFA 17 has picked up on this type of thing for The Journey as well. MyCareer mode isn’t perfect though. Some things feel tedious and even with the nice calendar system and the new mobile phone interface to let you decide what to do when schedules clash, I’d have liked the story to play a larger part than just something that hides a typical sports career mode.
The other modes that saw improvements this year are MyGM, MyLeague, and MyTeam. If you aren’t familiar with them, MyGM and MyLeague are fairly similar on the surface. MyLeague, while more customisable, is a lot faster with some of the fluff removed. MyGM is a little more casual. I love the Start Today option that lets you continue the current NBA season with real life NBA stats and standings. Think of MyLeague as a sandbox version of MyGM.
MyTeam on the other hand, allows opening card packs to get players and skill cards to create your own superstar team. This involves in game currency and real money purchases to get card packs. There’s a trading card aspect as there are different card levels that give different rewards based on the type of packs you purchase. Think of MyTeam as NBA 2K’s FIFA Ultimate Team.
Presentation wise, NBA 2K17 is on another level. This year Visual Concepts even scanned player shoes. I like that they have a subtle but different dribble sound across each court you play on and after the horrid commentary in WWE 2K16, NBA 2K17’s commentary is a breath of fresh air. It is dynamic and features more than 10 commentators. The only complaints I have visually are how some players’ hair feels off and looks like something you’d see on a PS3 game and how some lip sync issues are present. Even the licensed soundtrack is nearly as good as Forza Horizon 3’s. When you combine the attention to detail visually with the audio design, 2K17 maybe the best looking and sounding sports game out there, even with the likes of PES 2017 out this year.
So should you buy NBA 2K17 if you played 2K16? Definitely. The visuals, while stunning, aren’t going to blow your mind, but the changes to modes, gameplay, and the interesting albeit grindy MyCareer mode are worth the price of admission. There’s something for almost every sports fan here all packed into a single experience.