Much more than a glossy rehash of the already-great sim, NBA 2K14 on Xbox One may not retain every feature from its last-gen counterpart, but that's largely a good thing. The underwhelming, LeBron-idolising Path to Greatness mode has been cut in favour of an involved MyGM offering, along with the overhauled MyCareer and its online Park feature, which together help to create a hoops package that feels distinct beyond its visual upgrade.
But what an upgrade it is. Aside from maybe Forza 5, NBA 2K14 sees the most sizable presentational boost of any returning franchise in the day-one lineup, with an absolute leap in visual fidelity when it comes to convincing player recreations. It's the closest any sports game has come to replicating the real thing, and seeing is believing with a star like Derrick Rose, who dribbles and sprints with remarkable realism.
Even supporting players look great in most cases, plus 2K recorded real-life player and coach post-game/half interviews with reporter Doris Burke that (while canned in nature) add an aural effect to the illusion. The downside of such presentational oomph is that the occasional lingering low-res element - a grainy loading-screen backdrop, fuzzy text on equipment - or animation glitch stands out terribly, but most of the on-court stuff is excellent.
The core game luckily hasn't lost a step with the visual bump, and NBA 2K14 remains a fluid and precise simulation without feeling stuffy or sluggish; it plays great, whether you're a novice or a hardwood hero. MyGM provides a richer franchise experience, letting you tweak your team and navigate conversations. Meanwhile, the rookie-to-star MyCareer mode has been reborn with cinematics and a new Park option, which is a loose but fun way to play street ball with online folks. The dialogue in MyCareer is hilariously lame, but it remains a solid alternative to full-team action.
Unfortunately, 2K's servers have proven unreliable at times, which impedes online action and can even prevent access to single-player saves created when originally connected. That could prove a headache - but it's one worth tolerating, as NBA 2K14 is otherwise a stunner, refreshing the tried-and-true formula with fantastic visual pop and engaging new modes.
By Andrew Hayward. Originally published on OXMOnline.
An unexpected Xbox One knockout and a year-on-year improvement in every respect - but its spectacular visuals make the clunkier elements painfully obvious.
- Dazzling visual overhaul
- New/redone modes for Xbox One
- Better presentation all round
- Some early online connection issues to wade through
- The older bits look really old
- MyCareer a bit of a slog