2K are back with another version of their visually impressive basketball sim, NBA 2K17, and whilst it doesn’t have any huge additions or new features, the few tweaks here and there help to further embed them as the dominant basketball game.
It’s no surprise at all that 2K17 looks and feels terrifically authentic. Much like it’s last few instalments, ball control is tight and intuitive, shooting and lay-ups are about timing and skill – with a little luck thrown in for good measure – and defending feels superbly balanced against attackers. The courts look real, the character animations are equally life-like, and the character models, well they’re mostly excellent but there’s a few odd-balls out there, including your created character if you use the smart phone app to scan your face.
Indeed, the presentation is still highly impressive. Stats appear throughout play but without being intrusive, and the commentators do a splendid job analysing the court and flow of play. Meanwhile, a talk show while your match is loading is a nice distraction, although the host’s facial animation is a bit hit-and-miss and some peculiar pauses in speech can pull you out of the experience a bit.
The comprehensive tutorial, 2KU, does a great job in teaching you the mechanics and systems at work, and before long you’ll be ready for the flagship mode, MyCareer. Here you create your own character and take him from his high school novice roots to becoming potentially one of the NBA’s best. The new college segment allows for some more personality to be injected into your character, providing a better origin for his career before he’s drafted into the NBA. Meanwhile, shorter load times than in previous titles is a very welcome enhancement, but there’s still a fair bit of waiting around between games.
The storytelling experience of MyCareer is still a bit corny but undeniably clever and immersive. From your house, which acts as a HUD, you have multiple options available, such as playing on your own personal court, deciding your schedule for the day, and conversing with friends, coaches, and your mum. This is of course alongside the mandatory games and training sessions, but you also have the option to attend sponsor events, go out with fellow players, and hit the practice court in order to earn stat boosts. It’s a comprehensive and well-throughout mode that immerses you in your character’s career splendidly.
Taking your created player online is the same as in previous instalments, with MyPark allowing you to play 3-on-3 games with other players. Meanwhile, 2K’s counterpart to FIFA Ultimate Team, MyTeam, is still an excellent fantasy basketball system, allowing you to build your own dream team of players, complete scenarios in order to earn VC, and challenge other players online. Furthermore, separate challenges within MyTeam, such as a mode in which you can draft a team of legends and try and win as many consecutive games as possible to earn rewards, is an excellent addition.
However, whilst the primary modes have been merely tweaked, MyGM and MyLeague have a couple of important new additions. This year both modes are more customisable and vast thanks to the ability to expand your league to 36 teams. These now include EuroLeague teams, classic teams, and even teams that you’ve made yourself, opening up a terrific options to really customise your season. Furthermore, you can choose to start during the offseason, allowing you to trade players before the season gets underway. You can also choose to only paly the Play-Offs, skipping the grind and enjoying the most exciting period of the season.
Indeed, NBA 2K17 makes smart, minor adjustments to the winning formula of MyCareer and MyPark, maintaining the former’s immersive story and the latter’s compelling collection mechanics, and it enhances MyGM and MyLeague to breathe new life into the modes. And whilst overall there isn’t much new, the NBA 2K series doesn’t need any big changes yet, as its pretty excellent as it is.
Thanks to Xbox and 2K Games for supporting TiX