Gaming

NBA 2K16: Best basketball game to date

Here's a chance to take on Houston Rockets guard James Harden. The graphics in the game are breathtaking: From players' faces and tattoos, to their jerseys and strapping tapes, everything is beautifully and faithfully reproduced.
Here's a chance to take on Houston Rockets guard James Harden. The graphics in the game are breathtaking: From players' faces and tattoos, to their jerseys and strapping tapes, everything is beautifully and faithfully reproduced.PHOTO: 2K GAMES

Gameplay is great, graphics are stunning, too bad about draggy plot

The NBA 2K series is the best basketball simulation game in recent memory. Its MyCareer mode has always been the highlight of the series. It is also my favourite.

In MyCareer mode, you can scan your face (using the PlayStation Camera or Kinect camera), create an avatar and play him from rookie to NBA legend.

Previous versions put you straight into the NBA draft and you start your rookie year with the team that picked you. With this year's version, players have to contend with a new plotline before the draft.

The plot is called "Livin' Da Dream" and is directed by acclaimed director Spike Lee. You start out as an aspiring baller called Frequency Vibration (you can change the name but your nickname will always be Freq - pronounced freak) who hails from troubled Harlem.

From there, you play your way from high school to college before entering the NBA draft in your sophomore year. There is more to the plot but I shall not give too much away.

While the acting of the cast is great, I hate that the storyline is so linear. You have no way to make different decisions. You just have to follow the story until your rookie year is over. Plus, it can get melodramatic and draggy at times. Thankfully, you can skip the video cut-scenes.

Once you have finished your rookie year, you become a free agent. This is when things finally get back to normal, and you can just play basketball.

You can choose your team by taking into account which team shows more interest in you, as well as offers more playing minutes and in-game money. You will need the money, called Virtual Currency (VC), to upgrade your in-game attributes. The VC can also be used to buy new shoes and shirts for your avatar.

You can negotiate with three teams at the same time about your playing minutes and remuneration to strike the best deal.

  • 9/10

    RATING

    PRICE: $84.90 (PC), $69.90 (PS3), $84.90 (PS4), $69.90 (Xbox 360), $84.90 (Xbox One; version tested)

    GENRE: Basketball simulation

Once you have signed on with a team, you can opt what to do during your days off. For example, you can do extra training to improve attributes, spend time with teammates to build rapport or attend a sponsor's event to earn extra VC.

On the court, the gameplay is greatly improved in the latest version, with realistic collisions and impact. You no longer can dribble into a sea of players and not lose the ball when there is accidental contact or a steal.

The game is presented like a TV broadcast with pre-game, half- time and post-game shows, hosted by the likes of veteran sportscaster Ernie Johnson and NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal.

The in-game commentary is top-notch. While at times repetitive, it reflects what is happening on the court. The graphics are breathtaking. From players' faces and tattoos, to their jerseys and strapping tapes, everything is beautifully and faithfully reproduced.

Spectators are not dull replicas either. They can be seen cheering and shouting, waving face placards of their favourite players. If the home team is losing badly, you see the stadium getting emptier when the game is ending.

The music soundtrack used during loading and menus is uplifting and gives you a great tempo to start each game. The menu interface has been streamlined and makes it easier for you to get to the different modes of the game.

You can play any NBA team through a season in MyLeague mode. If you want more control, you can take over any NBA team as the general manager in MyGM mode. You have more things to do as a general manager, such as participating in the summer league, dealing in three-way trades and, my personal favourite, relocating your franchise. I brought Golden State Warriors back to San Francisco - as it is where Dub Nation should be.

  • Verdict: For NBA basketball fans who are gamers, NBA 2K16 is the game to play. Just bear with Spike Lee for a while.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2015, with the headline 'NBA 2K16: Best basketball game to date'. Print Edition | Subscribe