Although I’ve always been more of a fan of modes such as Dynasty and Association, I’ve found myself mostly playing MyCAREER in NBA 2K13. If the early results of our latest poll are any sort of indication, I’m not alone in my enthusiasm as MyCAREER seems to be the mode that a lot of people are spending the most time in this year.
I’ve already posted some thoughts on MyCAREER in my full review of NBA 2K13 but since I’ve recently completed my first season with the Denver Nuggets, I’ve decided to post some further thoughts and reflections. While my experiences were quite positive on the whole, there are certainly areas where the mode could be improved upon, ideally as soon as NBA 2K14.
First of all, I should mention that I ended up continuing the career that I began when I first picked up the game, which means the rosters weren’t very up to date to begin with and there are definitely things I’d do differently if I were starting a new MyCAREER game today. For one, I’d pay closer attention to the settings, as my first few games were set to five minute quarters for gameplay, twelve minute quarters for simulation. Needless to say, that didn’t do much for my numbers out of the gate.
Nevertheless, I found myself enjoying the game too much to start over from scratch and thus continued on, enjoying a very successful rookie campaign as I got the hang of the game and started making my mark on the league. I won’t go into detail about all the specific ups and downs; if you’re interested in reading more about that, allow me to shamelessly plug my story thread.
Before I get to some of the annoyances and things that I believe must be fixed beginning with NBA 2K14, I really have to emphasise again how much fun I’ve had with MyCAREER so far. I’ve found it to be very addictive, playing three or four games in a single session when the opportunity has allowed it. When a game is difficult to stop playing, it’s a sign of a quality title.
However, MyCAREER certainly has its moments of frustration that are experienced game to game. As I mentioned in my full review, very little (if any) attention was given to the grading logic in NBA 2K13. It’s still very biased towards punishing the user, failing to take context into account while generally undervaluing good play and quite often failing to acknowledge it, though seldom forgetting to make deductions for mistakes. Considering that the grading logic’s standards for good and bad play are kind of sketchy, this can be quite maddening.
Some common examples of this include:
- Forcing an opponent into a tough shot can result in an “allowed man to score” deduction if you’re not quite close enough…even if you’ve forced them into a turnaround fadeaway from 30 feet and it miraculously goes in.
- Inconsistent criteria for good and bad shot selection.
- An “allowed offensive rebound” deduction when you’re a shorter guard outmatched by a big and you’ve done your best battling on the boards.
- Multiple “allowed inside pass” deductions when your man and one of his teammates make a few rapid passes back and forth in the paint.
- When an opponent recovers possession of the ball after a block, the “allow offensive rebound” deduction usually completely negates the credit you’re given for the blocked shot.
- Getting a “bad call for pass” deduction when you’re wide open under the hoop and there’s a clear passing lane to get you the ball.
- Receiving a “bad pass selection” deduction when passing to an admittedly unideal recipient (say, a centre on the perimeter) is done to avoid losing the ball, committing a violation, or to reset the offense; something we’ll often see players do in real life.
- A “bad pass” deduction when such an assessment is highly questionable. This one is particularly egregious as getting the “bad pass” deduction negates an assist when you most certainly should be credited with one.
Considering that the amount of Skill Points that’s awarded is often insultingly low, unfair deductions are something that a user can ill-afford. Turnovers are also a problem here as the game almost always seems to consider it your fault. Pass to a teammate who catches it, establishes possession of the ball but then gets stripped? You get the turnover. However, should the roles be reversed and you get stripped after a pass from a teammate, that’s also considered to be your turnover. Basically, a turnover is practically always your fault somehow and with psychic steals still a lingering issue, you’re bound to run into this annoyance at some point if you get enough touches.
This is admittedly more of an issue on the PC version which doesn’t utilise Virtual Currency, naturally leading to a lot more grinding. Given that the concept of spending real money for in-game boosts is becoming increasingly commonplace and won’t be going away anytime soon, it would be unrealistic to expect 2K Sports to move away from it. However, the amount of Skill Points or VC awarded by the game should be much fairer, or the upgrades a little cheaper.
Teammate AI is better this year, but still leaves something to be desired. Teammates do a better job looking for their shot and getting things done offensively, but they’ll still get in bad position for passes and make some incredibly silly decisions at times. While they do defend and rebound, the help defense AI is rather weak with your teammates having a bad habit of stepping aside and letting the CPU opponents score at the basket. If you rack up a number of “allowed man to score” deductions during the game, you can bet that at least some of them could be avoided if your teammates had your back and defended the paint as they should.
While these issues do detract from the mode somewhat and should be addressed in future games, I still found myself enjoying playing through all of the games for the most part, while slowly but surely improving my player. It certainly helps that MyCAREER is such an immersive experience with its virtual Twitter, GM meetings, press conferences and all-around slick presentation. However, there some issues there as well.
I’ve mentioned in both my review and on the NLSC Podcast that I quite enjoy the virtual Twitter in MyCAREER. It’s purely for flavour, but given the presence of social media these days it adds to the experience and it’s kind of nice to get praise after a big game. However, after a while it becomes painfully generic; not necessarily the messages themselves, but it’s clear that the Tweets are generated according to some very basic stats and ignore context.
For example, it’s weird to be scolded for only grabbing two rebounds when you’ve been playing the point and just dropped a double-double of 16 points and 16 assists in a big win. You could argue that it represents some of the stupider comments that one might see on Twitter, but it’s distracting when every comment is misguided and illogical. At the very least, we need the ability to issue a J.R. Smith-like response.
One can always choose to ignore those remarks on the virtual Twitter, as I’m sure many players do in real life for the most part (the aforementioned exchanges being a noteworthy exception). There are far more frustrating issues in the frontend such as the inability to access the season standings screen after the regular season has concluded or any playoff stats screens once the postseason has finished. If you’re maintaining a story thread or simply feel like looking through all of your player’s stats, regular season and Playoffs, this is rather annoying.
I also encountered a strange bug with the end of season awards. No Coach of the Year was awarded for the 2013 season and the Awards screen was blanked out completely a game after the All-NBA teams were announced, though they are still present in the league history screen (sans the non-existent Coach of the Year). In my career timeline, I’ve also been credited as the 2014 Rookie of the Year for some reason, though the year is correct in the league history screen and on my player card.
Speaking of achievements, the game is inconsistent in recognising them when they come during the Playoffs. The triple doubles I tallied in the postseason have not counted towards my career totals, yet achievements such as “Score 30 points and get 10 assists” and the tally for “Make 20 consecutive free throws” are recognised when they occur during Playoff games. I should be more than halfway towards meeting one of the criteria for the Hall of Fame but nope, as far as the game is concerned, those triple doubles didn’t happen. At least my fans on the virtual Twitter were supportive.
Wrapping up the bug report, there are instances of the commentators reacting inaccurately to your answer in the previous postgame press conference. For example, they will sometimes refer to you offending teammates when your answer actually boosted your teammate chemistry. Truth be told, the commentary, Twitter responses and presentation in general probably revolves around your player a bit too much, especially when you’re still a minor part of the team, but MyCAREER is basically a story told from your perspective so it’s understandable and doesn’t bother me too much. It is a little distracting when the pre-game video packages refer to the Western Conference Finals and NBA Finals as the Eastern Conference Finals though; that’s a little bit of sloppiness in some otherwise impressive presentation.
In my second edition of The Friday Five, I talked about five things I wanted to see in MyCAREER in NBA 2K14. One of those things was the ability to change our player’s position, within reason; say, designate a secondary position and be able to swap it in as the primary position if you find that you’re more comfortable in that role or it facilitates the rotation better. Given the game’s tendency to change lineups simply for the sake of making a change and the fact I’ve grown to like playing point guard despite starting my career as a shooting guard, I’m still very much in favour of that addition.
I’ve talked about quite a few drawbacks here, so you may be wondering why I’ve played MyCAREER so much and deemed it so enjoyable. Well, the fact is it remains a lot of fun despite these issues, some of which are admittedly nitpicky and related to features that aren’t necessarily crucial to enjoy the game, or can indeed be ignored completely (such as the virtual Twitter). There are moments of frustration, but these are usually quickly forgotten when things are going more smoothly or something really exciting happens.
Seeing how much I’ve enjoyed MyCAREER in NBA 2K13, I’m certainly interested in seeing it improved upon so that the experience is even better in NBA 2K14 and beyond. I hope that the complaints that I’ve noted here are among the issues that are addressed beginning with the next release but as for the rest of the mode? Well, improvements are always welcome, but right now it’s great, a lot of fun and very enjoyable. I’ll never abandon Dynasty and Association mode but in my book, MyCAREER is definitely worth checking out and spending time with.