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PlayStation 4 Review: ‘NBA 2K14’

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nba2k14nextShare in the connected feeling with NBA 2K14, but not a connection to the league, its players, or backroom dealings. No, NBA 2K14 demands server authentication. The reason? A micro transaction-based currency system which is embedded into the My Player mode. You can purchase coins with real cash and, to prevent exploits, 2K forced their product to be linked server side. If servers are down (and they often are), so is your GM or player career.

Forced online functionality is the sole egregious error (save the size hog installation) made by this next-gen basketball bonanza. Freed of multi-console disc size restraints, NBA 2K14 balloons to over 40GB of pro basketball data, dwarfing the previous generation and doing more than jumping in high resolution textures. New is Real Talk, a halftime and post-game interview segment with authentic voiceovers. There is also an expansion of video purity for panoramic city shots as home court locales are introduced, while commentary is richer.

NBA 2K14 is the generational leap. Usually, a racing game will blitz screens with miraculously realistic visuals. Instead, 2K’s boundary pushing NBA series establishes class, standing as the visual darling of this console launch cycle. With tweaks made to cover up those awkward, jerky quirks of transition animation, this will become a premiere pro sports sim – as if it isn’t already.

Appreciating artistry is difficult. You can ponder the reflections, shadows, and particles of Resogun, but so rarely do titles with aesthetic merit sell new console bombardments. We need to see realism strutting across displays; it’s easier for a mass audience to appreciate the advancement of technology by associating these qualities with the real world rather than one of fiction. That becomes NBA 2K14’s goal with simmering lights, reflective courts, and appropriately reactive crowds. This sport no longer seems to be hinging its success on cover star, LeBron James, but rather a videogame. Digital products such as this create sporting converts.

2K takes time to bolster their presence by enriching game mode functionality. My GM includes conversations (text only) with prissy players or coaches, and asks for last minute decisions heading into game day. Explore further to trickle one’s talents into concession pricing or other aspects of franchise ownership. As with My Player, many of these functions are dry and exist to build artificial season stories off the court. The success margin is only partial, while this enhancement on previous generation’s feature set remains notable.

What remains is The Park, a facet of the sport away from those expensive lighting schemes, lit scoreboards, and cheering fans. Using created stars, this recreates blacktop basketball with courts set aside for two-on-two up to full court, five-on-five with random online opponents. It is lively if it works, but often bogged down in busted matchmaking which is a shame. Atmosphere and randomness are admirable, with forced teamwork ingrained to the experience.

This is an elegant title, a grandiose time sink no matter play preferences, and a consistent showcase for technological progression. Differences from NBA 2K14 editions on last-ten consoles are obvious; this leap is substantial. In fact, 2K has done such a marvelous job at capturing the NBA in its present course, 2K14 could act as a quick access time capsule for the sport were it not for server cut offs. Those intangibles, such as precision free throw routines, pre-game rituals, reactions, and play styles create interactivity in whole mimicry of contemporary league customs. It is a marvel in motion and mere steps away from total replication of broadcast and on-court action.

NBA 2K14 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PC.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.