This is The Tuesday Triple, where I attempt to break down random topics into three points, and maybe an “and one” if I need it. Similar to the established Friday Five by Andrew, the topics will be related to basketball video games and their communities as a whole.
Even though Andrew does a great job reviewing basketball games for the NLSC, I have never felt that any review of a basketball videogame would ever truly apply to me. At the same time, I’ve always felt my opinions on these games are so skewed that any recommendations I could make on my experiences with a game wouldn’t apply to anyone else. So, now that I have this lovely weekly feature to write, I figured I’d give it a shot and write quick reviews for my main 3 basketball games this year. NBA 2K14 on PC, NBA Live 14 on PS4, and NBA 2K14 on PS4.
Free Throw – NBA 2K14 (PC)
Rick Barry Style (Positives)
Rick Barry’s free throw style is the perfect way to describe NBA 2K14 on PC. In essence, wtf? and laughable, but effective as well. If you are playing vanilla NBA 2K14 on PC, you would be better served by the PS360 versions of the game. Out of the box, there is nothing special about this game other than the LeBron mode, if you are into that kind of thing. With mods, this basketball game can be the basketball game of your dreams. Any characters can be made, as shown by MGX recently with the Space Jam and Superheros mods. Any league can be replicated, like the NCAA, PBA, and even retro NBA seasons. Nevermind that you can enhance the current day NBA with updated player likenesses, super accurate gear, or whatever other minute detail that you feel 2K overlooked. NBA 2K14 PC is a sandbox, as the PC versions usually are.
Chuck Hayes Style (Negatives)
When you take a step back and look at the complete package of NBA 2K14 on PC, there really isn’t much more than community updates and mods. Granted, you will get more than your $30 worth out of this version of the game with those mods, but 2K’s vanilla offerings are nothing short of pathetic on PC. Online is terrible in quality and setup, to play a friend you still need to start a 2-person Online Association, and there are still no options for playing anything other than quick games or team-ups. Year after year the game is having modes watered down, ignored, or flat out removed like Creating a Legend, Coach Mode, and the I-still-miss-it-dammit Situation Mode. The community can do a lot with the game but these lingering issues that can only be fixed by 2K, that are growing in number year after year, hinder the overall quality of what the PC version of the game could truly be.
Jumper – NBA Live 14 (PS4)
NBA Live’s return this year has been publicly scrutinized while trying to get out from 2K’s shadow. In all honesty, NBA Live 14 can play a great game of basketball. When I play it, I truly feel that the Xs and Os of the gameplay try to replicate real-life NBA games. There is a lot of potential for the gameplay if it gets polished up in future years, as is the future of the game itself. NBA Live 14 has Christmas uniforms for all 30 NBA teams, supplying the non-game worn versions for the teams that didn’t have a game on December 25th. Even though they are hideous, that shows how different EA is when it comes to the culture of the game. These Christmas uniforms showed up well before the Christmas games took place, and were a complete surprise for all the additional teams. Couple this with the recent update that added more retro uniforms as well as gameplay changes; the game has truly evolved into something better than what it was when it launched. Adding in the highly addictive Ultimate Team mode which brings legends into the mix, and you have a damn decent package of a game before mentioning the top notch ESPN presentation.
Kendrick Perkins (Negatives)
One paragraph isn’t enough space to list the overwhelming amount of things wrong with this game. Animation quality and variety are the two that hurt the most in game, while AI blunders and shoddy cameras don’t help either. Dynasty mode is laughable, and the roster updates are lackluster at best. There are players missing and, thus far, trades can take a week to show up in game. With no user customization options, there is nothing anyone can do to manually update the game other than wait for EA to do it. Even then, player numbers can be wrong and if you lose connection to EA’s servers, the updates go away too. That connection to EA’s servers is key too, as a dropped connection will kick you from a single player Ultimate Team game. While the EA developers have been honest and helpful, and even though the game has evolved in a positive way since it was first released, it is far from what most would consider a true “next gen” game. Further still from the promises made by the EA team in the prerelease hype, and in the apology letter that followed the launch.
Three Pointer – NBA 2K14 (PS4)
Steph Curry in Any Situation (Positives)
I still smile and get giddy every, single, time, I load NBA 2K14 on my PS4 and that gorgeous montage greets me with that Ecstasy of Gold remix. It makes me appreciate how far we have come with basketball videogames. 10 years ago we were gawking at in-depth franchise modes, facial animations, full team motion capture, realistic net physics, and signature animations. We are now so detailed on-court that we can have personality badges and signature skills affect each player uniquely, as they can get hot or cold with shooting, ball control, or defense, all while having some of the most impressive graphics of any Xbox One or PlayStation 4 videogame. You can hang out with 100 ballers in The Park, go through a story mode as yourself, stress over player emotions and franchise finances, or just play with NBA players in MyTEAM, Blacktop, or NBA Today games.
Josh Smith in Any Situation (Negatives)
On paper, that sounds fantastic. When it works, it is fantastic. NBA 2K14 on the PS4 has been nothing short of inconsistent. At any moment playing MyCAREER or MyGM, if I lose my Internet connection I could lose out on using VC in that mode. VC (Virtual Currency) is embedded throughout the game, with costs like 20,000 VC to unlock all the players for Blacktop Mode or 70,000 VC to have access to all MyGM abilities. Even with all the different modes, the perceived sandbox is gone. MyGM limits options from previous versions of Association, MyCAREER is literally linear, MyTEAM forces the user to play teams in order offline, and the limited creation tools require an online connection with no local saves. It is exactly like Josh Smith shooting a 3, you know he can make a few, but dammit just STAHP and do stuff you are consistently good at.
And One – Everything Together
This is the beauty of competition, this is the beauty of playing on different platforms, I will always have a basketball game to play this year. While I have made adjustments to my initial plans, I have been able to play all three games together throughout this year. I play NBA 2K14 on PS4 when I want to play a franchise mode with MyGM or real life NBA games. I play NBA Live 14 on PS4 for Ultimate Team. And I play NBA 2K14 on PC for whatever else I could ever want. If I get sick of crashing mods, I can jump to another option, if I grow tired of Live’s AI blunders, I can play some silly mods to get my mind off it, and if I want to feel validated in my $400 PS4 purchase, I can play something that actually feels like we have entered a new console generation. The variety is good, and thankfully each game excels in different aspects so they can be played together.
Even though Andrew doesn’t, I am going to give an overall review number for each game and a quick recommendation. Please reply with your thoughts on each game in the comments or here in the NLSC Forums, and I hope you enjoyed.
NBA 2K14 (PC) – Play it for the mods, must-buy at $15 or less if double-dipping. 8/10
NBA Live 14 (PS4) – Play it for UT only, only for $40 or less. 5/10
NBA 2K14 (PS4) – Play it if you have next gen, worth $60. 7/10
For comparison, Live 2004, Street Vol. 2, and NBA 2K11 are what I consider 10/10 games.