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NBA 2K14 Review
Review Score:

NBA 2K14, this year’s pro basketball offering from 2K Sports, is now available from the app store. Despite a handful of game modes and a fairly smooth experience overall, 2K14 reinforces the adage that all that glitters is not gold.

NBA 2K14 Pros:

  • Clean graphics and recognizable player models; animations are smooth and realistic
  • Several game modes, including Multiplayer and Path To Greatness featuring LeBron
  • Simplified control scheme
  • Interesting soundtrack with lots of familiar tracks
  • GameCenter integration for global leaderboards and a few dozen achievements

NBA 2K14 Cons:

  • Controls are translucent, packed tightly into corners, and easy to mistap
  • Commentary is severely lacking and announcer doesn’t know player names
  • Can’t use any other player for Path To Greatness
  • Commentary is severely lacking and announcer doesn’t know player names
  • Can’t skip “cut scenes”

NBA 2K14 contains a number of game modes to play. Quick Game and Path To Greatness are highlighted on the main screen, while Multiplayer, Multiseason, and Practice modes are found a bit deeper in the menus. Quick Game mode allows you to pick a pair of teams and engage in a one-off game for fun. Multiplayer pits you head-to-head against another gamer via GameCenter or Bluetooth. Multiseason gives you the chance to stick with one team over the course of several seasons in a bid for season-capping hardware, while Practice allows you to get a better handle on the controls to improve your on-court abilities. Path To Greatness gives you the opportunity to take on the role of poster boy LeBron James, as you choose a path (Heat Dynasty or Fantastic Journey) while attempting to complete a number of objectives. It’s an interesting way to play, though the King James haters out there probably won’t appreciate that you cannot select a different player.

Gameplay itself feels very much like last season’s, which is to say that it is serviceable if you are really jonesing for some b-ball on the go. Player animations look good, and the action is fun to watch. We actually like the little touches like players stretching before a tip-off and the like, though it’s really just window dressing that doesn’t impact gameplay in the least. There are two control options, the classic joypad and buttons or a one-touch approach. The one-touch allows you to select a strategy (drive, isolation, screen, press, double team, etc.) to direct how your team plays. It also uses taps and gestures to shoot (hold on player and release when you want him to shoot), pass (tap a player or swipe in a direction), and rebound/block (swipe up). Theoretically, it sounds cool. In practice, we didn’t have nearly as much control over the action as we did with classic controls. You use the joypad to direct the selected player, dragging farther from center to run. A quarter-circle in the lower right corner contains the buttons needed to switch players, pass, shoot, steal, rebound, and even alley-oop. These controls are small, translucent, and easy to miss, which made playing the game a bit frustrating. Defending/stealing in particular often left us way out of position, and our opponent was able to pick us apart pretty easily.

Graphically, the visuals aren’t top of the line, but it’s no slouch either. Facial models are close enough, and most popular players are recognizable. There are some graphical rough spots and some odd camera angles, but it feels a lot like you are watching an actual game. There doesn’t appear to be a way to skip forward through “cut scenes,” so you are kind of stuck watching players warm up a bit, trading fives between free throws, waiting out timeouts, etc. It’s a little annoying, but not a deal breaker. The soundtrack is pretty cool, with a bunch of great tunes to keep you pumped. The normal sound effects (dribbling, sneaker squeaks, stadium ambience) are present and add to the experience. The major audio failing comes in the form of the commentary, which often can’t keep pace with the action or calls out the wrong thing completely. At one point, a player scored and the Heat took possession. While coming down the floor, the commentator was droning on about a foul that never took place. It was bizarre. Equally bizarre is the constant calling out of player numbers instead of names when they score. The game is fully licensed, but no one seems to have informed the stadium announcer. Ridiculous!

Replay value is present, as with all sports games. There are a bunch of game modes and, if you can get past the occasional lag, Multiplayer can be a constant source of new competition. Unfortunately, the gameplay just doesn’t feel up to snuff and ends up being more frustrating than entertaining. GameCenter integration provides global leaderboards and achievements to earn, and iCloud support allows you to sync progress across devices, which helps greatly for multiseason and Path To Greatness modes. A universal app for a pricey $7.99, NBA 2K14 is an underwhelming 3-Dimple app.

NBA 2K14 Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2013-10-03T22:56:14+00:00 rating 3.0 out of 5

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