October is here and it’s that time of the year: sports coverage galore. With the NBA just beginning its pre-season, finally, basketball fans get to delve into all that is hardwood. Sure, baseball playoffs are thrilling, ice hockey brings ruckus, and football has its share of excitement, but there’s something different when it comes to hoops. It’s a sport where one man or woman can join a team and immediately make an impact. How many times have you gone to your home team’s games just to watch opponents like Kobe Bryant or Derrick Rose? That is if you don’t live in LA or Chicago.
In recent years, LeBron James has been one of the biggest names to grace the basketball population. Possibly being one of the most popular athletes in the world. And without hesitation, 2K has jumped on this cash cow and run with it, giving King James not only the cover but his own game mode—one of the few new additions to be feature in NBA 2K14.
“LeBron: Path to Greatness”, is reminiscent of “Jordan Challenge” from the 2K12 edition, except without the iconic performances that we got to relive with his Airness. Path to Greatness focuses more on a fantasy route of James’ career. Select between Heat Dynasty and Fantastic Journey, with the latter taking you on adventures down the yellow brick road. Scenarios like James’ landing in NY alongside Chris Paul to take on other mega-teams of the like. It’s a game mode that’s plays out shallowly, fun to imagine the “what if”, but lacking more substance.
To further supplement a game that is virtually unchanged from its predecessor, ’14 implements a new pass assist feature. Using L2 and flicking the right stick in the direction you want to pass, your player will utilize a bevy of flashy, on-target passes (if done at the right moments). This new feature is much needed when facing a re-tuned defense. Defenders lock down much tougher and it’s becoming more difficult to score by just using crossing dribbles to the basket—which have also taken a step up, with a larger variety of moves. Right analog will be your bread and butter, allowing for dribbling, shots, passing—it’s all at the tap of a thumb.
Without any other major basketball titles to compete against 2K, the feel of “what you see is what you get” is present. They’ve become slightly complacent but this is sure to change once EA returns with their once popular title NBA Live, which drops in the near future. Until then we must find the trinkets of gold hidden away, such as the commentary. Not necessarily a point you would focus on but it’s been refreshing to listen to Kevin Harlan compare Metta World Peace to the Ron Artest of old.
Menu screens and most other game modes stay the same, so you can continue enjoying MyPlayer, career mode, the Association, seasons, and so on. Clubs like the Dream Team have been taken away but to combat the subtraction, a few Euroleague teams have been added—a sign international interest is growing in the franchise.
Visually everything is stimulating, the sounds are present, and you sense the atmosphere of the surrounding the action. NBA 2K14 isn’t ground-breaking, but still a very solid game. You get all of your expected positives and negatives to a franchise that has taken over as head of the class in its category. With outside pressure coming, it will be interesting to see how 2K adapts to stay on top.