NBA 2K is back and better than ever as the team at 2K Sports has found some subtle changes that have exponentially improved the way players perform on the court. Previously as is the case in many sports games, the arcade side of things would tend to take over and tactical basketball would most times fall by the wayside. This year the game has opened itself up to allow the cerebral player to impose their will on opponents by making use of 2 key improvements and pairing those with the tried and true staples of the on court options. New to the game this year is the Total Control Stick and as its name might imply it gives you control over virtually everything your player does on the floor. Simply moving the right stick in a myriad of directions will perform crossovers, step backs and spin-moves while pairing it with the left trigger will transform it into the Shot Stick we became familiar with in last years game.
Game modes have not received any major overhauls to the way that they function, Association was already the best “franchise” type mode that sports games had to offer and honestly isn’t currently broken and thus did not require fixing. Upgrades made to My Player are more extensive yet they don’t really make any fundamental changes to the feel of the mode. Upon signing into the game players will be asked to create a My Player which will be prominently displayed on the main menu each time it is brought up. Newly renamed My Career players still start their path in the Rookie Showcase going against some of the top incoming rookies and jockeying for position on the NBA Draft boards. Once drafted players will again fight for minutes and endorsements as they play through a full 82 game schedule.
Social media has made its way into the mode as players will be given a pseudo twitter account and will gain followers as their star rises. Fans are tracked numerically but also by notable fans ranging from Pauly D to Michael Jordan. More in mode options have been added such as the ability to select the shoe company you want to be represented by where as before you had one option and that was to align yourself Jordan Brand. Deep customization of players skills and special abilities make this mode a grind that is only to be braved by patient players who are willing to build their hall of famer from the ground up. Big games and in-game tasks reward players will SP which can go towards not only upgrading a players abilities but also their social standing and training options.
**While this mode is fully functional on the Xbox 360 via a recent patch the PS3 is still experiencing freezing issues when it comes to the My Career mode.**
Gone are the novelty modes that will unlock historic teams or players, instead the game comes fully loaded from day one with numerous teams stretching from the 60s all the way to current champions and contenders. Also available for play are this years USA Olympic basketball team and the original Dream Team from the 1992 games. These two teams were added into the mix after a summer long debate sparked by Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. Bryant stated that not only did he think that this years Olympians could not only compete with but even beat the legendary team led by all time greats Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Executive Producer Jay-Z worked tirelessly with USA Basketball to pull together all of the licensing and logistics needed to put this dream match-up together.
While the team did not try to go out and reinvent the wheel I think it was their realization that their game only needed slight improvements that made this years version so good. While some fans may shy away from grabbing another of this year installment I would caution them from doing so. Basketball fans and sports simulation fans alike will find so much in this years game to enjoy that shelling out the $59.99 will seem like an afterthought as they find themselves engrossed in a virtual hoops heaven.