NBA 2K16 review: Basketball's best video game keeps getting better
A new season, a new dilemma: Do I need to buy the latest version of NBA 2K? Find all the details about NBA 2K16 in our review below.
Any comparison of past and present games starts with the features, and the biggest development for 2K16 is the expansion of MyCareer mode. First introduced in NBA 2K10, MyCareer/MyPlayer mode has changed a lot over time, but 2K16 presents the greatest year-to-year advancement to date. In last year’s version, you started off as an undrafted free agent who had to hustle to earn a guaranteed contract. This time around, you start off as a heavily recruited high schooler destined for the first round of the NBA draft.
Written and directed by Spike Lee, MyCareer mode is about more than just hoops. "We follow a kid through the trials and tribulations of being a top high school player and the decisions he has to make," Lee told USA TODAY earlier this summer. As you move from high school to college to the pros those tribulations include family drama, a greedy agent and a childhood friend who quickly becomes the bane of your existence. The decisions, early on at least, are limited. You choose where you player goes to college after a whirlwind four-game prep career but then hurdle toward the NBA with limited control over what becomes a tumultuous rookie season. High on drama and off-court intrigue, this mode was made for fans of Lee's classic basketball drama He Got Game.
For those more concerned with gameplay, 2K16 still has plenty to offer. Already the best basketball simulation around, 2K pads its lead on the competition with refined controls and detailed animations. While the new controls will take time to acclimate to, the level of control they provide is brilliant. Want to run a pick-and-roll? You can now choose which side the screener shades to. The passing game is also overhauled to great effect and the addition of 32 new back-down animations makes living in the post better than ever. Speaking of animations, this one may be reason alone to buy the new game.
Running a franchise has always been my favorite way to play NBA 2K, and this year’s version is the best yet. Options are the name of the game here and there are more than ever before. Hate your team’s primary uniforms? Design new ones using any color or pattern you want. Unhappy with your logo or home court? You can change those, too. The possibilities are endless, including relocation. The latter is likely the biggest addition. For those crushed when the Sonics left Seattle, now is your chance to bring them back. It’s not as simple as just selecting the city (at least in MyGM mode). Players will have to convince the 29 other owners the move is good for the league overall. Once you do that, a fun wrinkle takes place: the divisions automatically realign to accommodate your new franchise location.
2K16 could have been a minor upgrade. A few tweaks here and there to the framework set with the excellent 2K15. Instead, 2K16 opened up the floodgates, introducing a wealth of engaging and thought out features that will have you playing this game well into next summer.
NBA 2K16 releases September 29 on Xbox One and Playstation 4.