Steve Kyriacou reviews NBA 2K17…
“The King is dead! Long live the King!” That seems to be what I chant every year when I play the newest incarnation of the NBA 2K series. For the last few years the franchise has continued to improve, keeping fans engaged with a combination of flawless online play, a wide variety of game modes, almost endless player customisations and more. NBA 2K17 keeps this trend alive and kicking!
This Off-Season the NBA has gone Trade crazy! Franchise lynch-pins such as Derrick Rose in Chicago and Dwayne Wade at Miami have moved to new teams (New York and Chicago respectively). Even Kevin Durant has moved from OKC to the Golden State Warriors making them the most stacked team in the league but the less said about THAT move the better. With all of these changes, I was looking forward to seeing how balanced the teams would be in NBA 2K17 along with any gameplay tweaks and new game modes on offer. I have to say that I am NOT disappointed.
Now, before I get into these new bits (and there are quite a few), I feel the need to mention something which is quickly becoming a major issue with NBA 2K games… the initial installation. Once you install 2K17 it runs an auto update to complete the installation. Not normally a problem however, with the amount of traffic on the 2K servers for such a big release this update can take DAYS! Mine took around 10 hours! During this time the game is reduced to a USA vs USA practice scrimmage which acts as a tutorial. Yes, it gives a small insight into some of the new gameplay tweaks but after a few minutes it gets repetitive and lead me to put my PS4 into Rest Mode to try and speed up the update.
So what’s different? Well the gameplay is much smoother for a start. New dribbling, shooting and stealing systems (no, not the GTA kind) allow for a more realistic feel. When dribbling you can make more space for your player by combining crossover moves which, if controlling someone like Kyrie Irving gives you that extra boost of speed and space to get your shot or pass off. NBA 2K17 has also kept and improved individual players’ styles and motions within the game. Shooting is also improved with the ability to flick the right stick in different directions to pull off a variety of shots for example, pull down of the right stick for an accurate jump shot or pushing up for a bank shot off the glass. This gives you much more control over shot choice than just pressing the shoot button but does take some practice. The same goes for the new steal system, flick the stick for different attempts at stealing from your opponent. One negative I found with the gameplay is that the passing is not very responsive and allows for easy turnovers.
Another change to the gameplay is the improved player indicator. Whilst very similar to NBA 2K16 it has been tweaked to show HOT and COLD spots where players have a better chance of scoring. This is signalled by the indicator changing to either RED (hot) or Blue (cold). The Shooting bar within the indicator has also changed. Whereas last year you would have to release the ball within a target area, NBA 2K17 requires players to release when the bar is as full as possible which takes immense timing!
NBA 2K17 has the usual myriad of game modes and modes within modes (11 if you include the MyTEAM card game). The MyGM and MyLeague modes allow you to customise and play full NBA seasons with almost limitless options. Play Now features a sub-menu where you have three online modes (Play Now Online, All-Star Team-up and Play with Friends), 2KU training/tutorial mode, and the single player and versus modes (Play Now, NBA Today and Blacktop). This all leads to the MyCAREER mode. NBA 2K16 had a cinematic career mode written and directed by Spike Lee which had mixed reactions from 2K fans (I liked it but could see the flaws). NBA 2K17 seems to have not only learned but revamped MyCAREER to a whole new level. A cinematic story mode with a difference.
The new story kicks off with your created player choosing their College and playing through a few games to improve their standing in the NBA Draft. Sounds all too familiar right? Well this is where the new twist comes in the form of Justice Young. Justice, played by Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Fantastic 4), has been drafted to the same franchise as your created player and a friendship ensues. On a side note, Michael B. Jordan did ALL of the Motion Capture for his character. As the friendship grows with Justice, the two Rookies form a devastating duo called “Orange Juice” which allows the player to control BOTH characters on court by either directing or switching between the two. As the chemistry between the two characters improves more “Orange Juice” options become available however, and this is yet another twist in the tale, you have the choice to completely disregard Justice and focus on your own career. Unlike 2K16, this story is directed by the player.
Overall NBA 2K17 is a great basketball game. The small changes to the gameplay work really well and add to the realistic feel of the game with my only gripe being the tardy passing system. Graphically it looks stunning with such awesome detail that you can see beads of sweat forming on the players. All of the ingredients work brilliantly together and the MyNBA2K17 companion app gives the game another dimension by allowing you to earn VC to improve your MyPLAYER’s Attributes or buy new gear and giving you the option to scan your face into the game (which takes a lot of practice!) to use or your created player. Oh and for all you “Soccer” fans out there, Thierry Henry is a playable character in the Blacktop mode!
NBA 2K17 was reviewed on PlayStation 4
+ Silky smooth gameplay updates
+ Realistic dribbling controls
+ Innovative “Orange Juice” dual control system
+ Massive choice of game modes
– Flawed passing system
– Seriously slow initial download from server