On a year by year basis, the NBA 2K franchise has reached a level of popularity that extends further than just the original diehard basketball fans of suburbs and hoods across the country. With that being said, one would assume that as the game’s community grows and improves, so would the product itself. Not to say that their most recent game (NBA 2K16) was bad, but one would hope that every year a new game is released, it would be undoubtedly better than its predecessor. The amount of times I personally cursed this game for being fake, asking myself why I still play the damn thing, and swearing up and down I was going to retire… *shiver* never mind, the wounds still haven’t healed. Simply put, NBA 2K16 was the first game of the 2K series in recent years where one could argue that the previous game was more enjoyable; in reality, only a few things are make or break factors that held this year’s game back from being truly great.

General Gameplay

  1. Starting with the simplest of all requests, MORE HISTORIC TEAMS. The transition from 2K15 to 2K16 introduced a number of new historic teams that gave a refreshing feeling to quick match and team up players alike, who were tired of using the same teams with a new year slapped on the front cover. So this was actually something that was handled WELL in this year’s game, therefore, DO NOT deviate from the path. 2K has been known over the years to either fix what isn’t broken, or fix something only to watch it break again because of a lack of maintenance. The new teams that were added this year were great, and just as many (if possible) should be added to next year’s game as well, just so we don’t feel as if we’re paying for a “new game” with the same content. This would also help towards a MAJOR need for new player content in the MyTeam mode.
  2. This one may seem trivial to some, but as a Youtube content creator, it could make a world of difference. From what I’ve been told of other sports games (specifically Madden), the in-game commentary is, for lack of a better word, Kwame Brown. NBA analysts are responsible for some of the most memorable, spine tingling, goose bump forming calls that inspire people to pick up a ball. I guess what I’m getting to is… WHY ISN’T THIS IN THE GAME? 2K currently has Kevin Harlan, one of the most prominent voices of the NBA, signed to the brand as an in-game commentator (for the youngins, that’s the “WITH NO REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE” guy). However, the calls of him and all his in-game contemporaries are so bland and lifeless, as if they were truly just reading right from a script in front of them. LET THEM LIVE, BRUH. If game commentary was more lively, it wouldn’t just make the game more enjoyable, it could alleviate content creators such as myself and I wouldn’t feel the need to add voice clips of real life occurrences to make a video a bit more exciting. After all, how much of a buzz kill is it to hit a buzzer beater and just hear “ohhhhh, he puts it dowwwwwwwn.” C’mon, man. Your 10 year old cousins in the room probably topped that reaction easy.
  3. Now as far as gameplay goes, things were fairly solid this year. However, the biggest killer to me was the constant patches to fix what wasn’t broken. I can’t count how many times 3 point percentages were touched this year; at multiple points I took breaks from the game just because they unrealistically started going in too much, or didn’t go in at all. In my opinion, the game was perfect on day one release. If you had a problem with the game, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you – but you sucked. If it was a good shot, it went in. If it wasn’t a good shot, it usually missed. Green releases felt rewarding and weren’t rare to the point of wondering if you were just bad at someone’s shot form. Furthermore, the defense was LOCK. DOWN. If you were an adept player that knew tendencies of how people played the game, you could guess which way someone was going and clamp them up without being unable to slide laterally quick enough or get a “blown by” animation. Yet still, the first gameplay patch came within a month’s time and the game hasn’t been the same since.
  4. Now finally, we’ve reached the miscellaneous section of gameplay. Firstly, the stat distribution (especially in MyTEAM) is abysmal. I still don’t understand how Stephen Curry is as fast as Russell Westbrook or as good a defender as Paul George. Or an even better example, how playoff moment cards like Ian Mahinmi are better rebounders than Hakeem Olajuwon. There seems to be little to no logic in some players’ stats and there needs to be more clear and linear reasoning behind players having certain ratings. Secondly, new stats could be introduced to improve gameplay. Two that I have had in mind since last year – Explosiveness and First Step. A popular exploit of this year’s game was called Speed Boosting; when certain dribble animations allowed you to burst at full speed by your defender with no resistance and before they could react. Although it has now been patched, some players REALLY are about that life (ex: Kyrie coming off a dribble or slow as molasses Paul Pierce with his deceptive first step of doom). I believe an explosiveness stat could dictate how fast players go from 0 to 100 and the First Step could allow the non-athletic, great players to still be as effective in real life as they are in 2K. Either that or make the quickness stat more prominent in regards to the original point. Also, a small note to be made should be this “equalizer” or “momentum” that was incorporated into this year’s game. There is a reason all diamond teams in MyTEAM are no longer necessary – once the game shifts, you could start making C quality shots while your opponent starts missing wide open, A- shots. There should be no reason to baby people who are bad at the game with this feature. Whenever I shoot a shot these days, I’m not even surprised to see a D+ go in. To an extent, this game can be simplified into: whoever survives the other person’s scripted run, wins. Something is wrong with that. Deny it as they may, we play the game the most. We know how it works. Finally, on-ball defense. C’mon man. We shouldn’t even still have to be asking for this. If 2K really wants to be taken seriously as a possible Esports game, on-ball defense needs to be MANDATORY. No more hiding behind the CPU. Just like real life, you need to be able to show that you’re good offensively AND defensively, or the better all around player will abuse your weaknesses and win. Simply put, if you bout it, show it. Or get exposed.