NBA 2K16 was undoubtedly the best in the series. The only point against it was Livin’ Da Dream, which limited your first year in the NBA, however, the rest of the game was fantastic. MyPark, while still a bit cheesy, was refined a bit more, 2KTV with Rachael DeMita was still lots of fun to watch, and the addition of endorsements and live practice to MyCareer, as well as the 2K Pro-Am, expanded the game to new possibilities. NBA 2K17 was positioned as the evolution the #1 basketball simulation franchise, especially after what could be considered the death of EA’s NBA Live series. Does NBA 2K17 have what it takes to continue proclaiming itself as the king?
Game Name: NBA 2K17
Platform(s): Xbox One (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC via Steam, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, iOS, Android
Publisher(s): 2K Sports
Developer(s): Visual Concepts
Release Date: September 20th, 2016 (September 16th – Early Tip-Off Weekend)
Price: $59.99 (Standard); $79.99 (Legend Edition); $99.99 (Legend Gold Edition)
NBA 2K16 might have been the most promising, yet most ambitious project yet. The 2K Pro-Am was wildly successful and Livin’ Da Dream, while somewhat of a nuisance, was proof that cinematic stories in MyCareer COULD work effectively. Everything about NBA 2K16 read “eSports,” and while there were minor complaints, players eventually warmed up to the game.
The same could be said about NBA 2K17, which as a whole does complement NBA 2k16‘s entry with a lot of changes that completely give this game a real identity. MyCareer, MyGM/MyLeague, 2K Pro-Am and MyPark all feel individualized, and embraces the inner NBA nerd in all of us. MyCareer’s player archetype system, one of the biggest changes this year, embodies that by itself. Guards, Forwards, and the 5 spot all have their own individual archetypes that influence the different playstyles that everyone employs. Like to play in the paint? Go for the Paint Protector Center archetype? Want to be flexible like Dirk Nowitzki? The Stretch Four archetype is all yours. Getting your John Stockton on? Playmaker Point is all you need. Every archetype has is positives and negatives, and the numerous possibilities are endless. Each archetype emphasizes 2 specific attribute groups over the others, so it’s the ultimate balancing act to find out how to make your player as effective as possible. In addition, the badge system has changed up. Every archetype has 5 badges that can be upgraded through the scope of your career, one of which can be upgraded to a Hall of Fame level badge upon leveling all 5 of them up to Gold. You can still earn all the other badges in the game, however, you won’t be able to upgrade them past Bronze status. Personally speaking, it wasn’t the biggest turn-off, but it’s disconcerting that I couldn’t upgrade my Bruiser or Defensive Stopper badge, despite being a Playmaker Shooting Guard, at least to Silver. Again, nothing too major about that.
Another big thing I enjoyed about MyCareer mode was the out of basketball commitments being a bit easier this go round. Last year was a ridiculous balancing act, and if you screwed up once, you may have messed up a connection for good. This year’s game emphasizes on fully balancing your relationship with your teammates Justice Young (portrayed by Creed‘s Michael B. Jordan,) and Denver Levins, your relationships with your coaches and superstar players, your basketball commitments, as well as your outside endorsements. I was quite ecstatic to know that I would be able to have a bit more control this year with the off-the-court commitments in NBA 2K17 as opposed to 2K16, where I found myself playing the game less and less as the year went by. The new ‘Doin’ Work’ meter is a bit of an incentive this year, where the more you spend time on MyCourt or in various practices, the more attribute bonuses you can earn. The burn is a little slow for my liking, but it makes the grind worth it, especially as a seasoned RPG player.
Orange Juice has got to be my favorite new mechanic out of NBA 2K17’s MyCareer mode. For some, it takes a while to build up, but for others, building that relationship with Justice Young (played by Michael B. Jordan) can be quite effortless. This, of course, ties in with managing your life outside of the NBA and finding time to build connections with various players. Build your connection with Justice Young and you’ll be able to take control of the other half of Orange Juice, on or off the ball. Want to set up the alley-oop? You can do that. Want to have Justice attack the basket? Get your game on, son. All it takes is 3 assists in either direction to start putting the squeeze on your opposition.
All in all, NBA 2K17’s MyCareer is enough of a mode to keep players interested for hours at a time, but the game has many other features that will keep you just as busy.
MyGM/MyLeague has been combined and refined this year, and if you’re a fan of fantasy sports, but don’t like microtransactions, this is for you. Nothing much has changed year over year, but the addition of the creation of expansion teams changes this mode enough to deepen the playability. You can add up to 6 teams to your league in each of the modes. The beauty of this is that you can either fully customize your new team or use one of 6 pre-made expansion franchises provided in game. MyTeam is pretty much Madden Ultimate Team for NBA 2K, with nothing much changed. MyTeam fans will get what they want out of it, but others, not so much.
The game mechanics saw an amazing overhaul this year. The shot meter sees a bit of a change this year, where instead of getting the meter to the middle of the shot meter, you must fill up the meter to make your shot. Also, a major problem with last year’s game was remedied, by ensuring that green releases are ALWAYS made shots. In addition, the pro stick motions in the isomotion game have been made a bit more fluid, removing the canned animations in favor of a more fluid, customizable isomotion system. With that, this creates unique opportunities for individualized crossovers, so everyone’s crossover combos won’t be the same.
The only issue that I have with the new mechanic is that shooting with the shot stick is accuracy based, so if you’re even just a little bit off of the 90-degree angle, you’re going to miss, and layups are also timed with the shot meter. Layups aren’t automatic buckets, which simply serves to frustrate players, especially when you miss open fast-break layups. Seriously, if this the actual NBA, you’d be benched for that and would never live that down.
Truthfully speaking, you’ll be spending most of your time in MyCareer and MyGM/MyLeague, as well as the online modes, which have been stable since release, a first for the NBA 2K series in a while. And that is definitely not a bad thing.
*NBA 2K17 was purchased by the author for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please take a look at our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
Showing why NBA 2K is the best basketball series out there
While I'm not a fan of the changes towards the timing of layups, NBA 2K17 continues to improve on what many have deemed near-perfection with NBA 2K16. There isn't a single thing not to like about this game, and that's the way NBA 2K likes to do it - K.I.S.S: Keep it Simple, Stupid.
- MyCareer storyline feels very natural and inviting
- New shot meter is a blessing in disguise
- MyGM/MyLeague is much more fully featured
- Timing layups can be extremely frustrating
- MyPark cheese is still real