Being a wannabe American I am partial to many American Sports, NFL being my personal favourite, then MLS swiftly followed by a blur of Hockey, Basketball and Baseball. Having played Madden 25 a great deal I thought it was time to shift my attention to another American Sport, this time Basketball, and that came in the form of NBA 2K14.

Unlike Madden, which I buy religiously, your NBAs, NHLs and MLBs I tend to dip in and out of. The last time I picked up an NBA title, if memory serves, was back in 2011, and I do remember it being pretty fun. Let’s hope that we get much of the same with 2K Sports latest incarnation.

Jumping straight onto the court the game looks unreal. The baggy shorts ripple as Carter-Williams sprints to the basket, you can see beads of sweat dripping down Kobe’s face and there’s the added bonus that arenas look so good that they really do add to the game’s overall atmosphere. You could be forgiven if you lose a few games if only due to the fact that you’re pre-occupied with the game’s un-matched visuals.

The game looks good, so surely it’ll let us down when it comes to the button bashing? Most certainly not. 2K Sports have fine tuned this game to perfection. The joysticks on your controller are now suddenly the most important aspect of your game. The right stick in particular not only dictates what special skills your player performs, but it will also be the key ingredient for those perfectly lofted three-pointers.

Confusion soon sets in for veteran fans when you’ll learn that holding the left trigger and flicking your right thumbstick results in a rapid pass, and not a shot. Naturally for the first few games, getting your head around how much pressure is needed to pull off certain moves and shots does result in some rather comical scenes. Once you’ve got to grips with the system however, things start to play out very nicely. After a while you’ll be stringing together multiple skill moves whilst finishing off with a gravity-defying dunk.

Looking past the special skills that come with flicking your thumbstick you’ll soon realise that even the simplest of tasks have been fine tuned to look as realistic as possible. It’s now a lot harder to go dribbling up to the basket with defenders sticking to their targets like proverbial glue. Your players will run out of puff a lot quicker so you can’t consistently sprint the length of the court for the entirety of the game. Even fouls have been tweaked, things like reaching-in isn’t called for as easily, which was a major nuance in previous instalments.

When it comes to game modes NBA 2K14 now offers us ‘LeBron: Path to Greatness’. In this mode you will play out your career as James from free-agency onwards and you’ll bounce from big-game to big-game as you rise to be an NBA legend. You will be thrown into all manner of situations, and whilst on reflection, you know that everything is scripted so you can’t help but enjoy playing out this fantasy career.

Outside of that you do have ‘My Player’, which I did enjoy. Whilst researching the last few titles it was noted that the career progressions and things such as pre and post-game interviews were all duplicates of previous versions. Despite this I still thoroughly enjoyed starting from scratch as a Greenhorn and entering the NBA draft as the 21st pick overall. You can choose how your character reacts to the media, be it the calm and conceited player or the all guns blazing ‘I’m better than LeBron and Jesus’ hot head who no one particularly likes. Ultimately your results on the court define whether you even start a game let alone get paid.

You’ll even get the chance to command European teams such as Panathinaikos Athens and Real Madrid in NBA 2K14.

Though there are issues, Dream Team has been removed from 2k14, which is a shame. It’s always fun to have a run about as one of NBA’s legends. As said above I do feel that a lot of the game is far too scripted, with very little room to manoeuvre. Bring back Jordan Challenge is the other call that 2K Sports is getting from its fans, it’ll be interesting to see if they listen come NBA 2K15.

Ultimately what you’ve got is a well polished item that is enjoyable but does lack a little substance. Visually it’s awe-inspiring, with everything from LeBrons biceps to his un-tied shoelaces looking as real as we’ve ever seen. The game’s commentary is gripping, which is very rare for a rinse and repeat sporting title and is rarely seen nowadays. Bringing back Dream Team and Jordan Challenge would have been the crowning jewel, instead 2K Sports leave us playing a very close to perfect game.

So close, yet so far…

Lee Matthews

Lee is an avid gamer, photographer, film buff and sports fan. A scaly brat since birth it only seemed right for him to join Her Majesties Armed Forces of which he has been a proud member ever since. Despite a long absence from gaming, during which he spent many a night reminiscing about the glory days on Halo 2, Matty is now back online smashing his way through Black Ops and soon enough Gears of War 3 and Battlefield 3.

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