Watching an NBA game always makes basketball look much easier than it actually is. Anyone who has ever picked up the rock and tried to jam it will testify to that. Gravity is a cruel mistress and that is why the NBA 2K14 series is so appealing.
But if you think that you're in for an easier time playing basketball with a controller rather than getting out on the court think again. NBA 2K14 will most emphatically slap down any ambitions of becoming like Mike or cover star Lebron James in just one season.
In the embarassing absence of EA's NBA Live series 2K's NBA license has been given ground to flourish and in previous years has offered hookups with Jay-Z and celebrations of the talent of the living legend that is Michael Jordan as he was inducted into the NBA Hall Of Fame but this year's title will not get such an easy time of it.
NBA 2K14 will jump onto next gen consoles later this year but it will be followed by the return of NBA Live forcing 2K Sports to really think about what they are doing with this year's game.
First off NBA 2K14 is definitely the best-looking game of the series. 2K has gone to great pains to try and capture all of the grace and skill of the NBA's finesh players with some truly awe-inspiring moves to pull out of the bag to take the ball to the hoop.
Fluid animation and the ball acting independently from players for the first time really make a difference to the game's feel. NBA 2K14 also brings in 3D crowds and thanks to the smaller sizes of the NBA's indoor venues these look pretty amazing. They are also pretty dynamic especially where the chanting is concerned adding the right kind of atmosphere to the game with crowds chanting for "defence" and even the odd bit of idivudual encouragement really adding the right kind of flavour to matches.
With Lebron on board they have the games most spectacular athlete at their disposal and they've not wasted it. There's a mode dedicated specifically to taking the man all the way to legendary NBA status and it can prove an interesting diversion from the main thrust of the game with a series of matches to play to help cement Lebron's legacy in the NBA.
The game is very tough though. Delving into the MyCareer mode, which involves bringing on your own player and developing them in the league is possibly one of the toughest experience I have ever had in a sports game.
Here the control system can be very unforgiving and so can the AI with mistakes being punished not only by the opposition scoring but also your team mates losing faith in your own ability to score.
The thing is, it's not tough in a way where it makes you want to throw the controller at the screen and never play it again. It's hard in a way that, while it makes you want to snap your controller in half and throw it at the screen, it also makes you want to get better, which is generally a good thing.
The main problem with making a tough game is that it can put off more casual players and given that many of those that play sports games are more casual players (horrific generalisation I know but it also happens to be fairly accurate) this is not entirely a positive feature of the game.
Nevertheless NBA 2K14 is fun especially dut to the fact that it manages to keep up to date with the goings-on on a daily basis. You can even pick up your season and play it through in real time with the game taking into account the real-life form of your team mates which makes the game that much more interesting to play.
NBA 2K14 is a great game despite its flaws and has more than enough to keep basketball fans coming back. The addition of the top 14 Euroleague teams this season adds a bit of extra relevance to those from outside the US. If you are a basketball fan then it is worth a shout but don't expect it to go easy on you.
NBA 2K14 is out now on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. It is due out later this year on PS4 and Xbox One.
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