Alright my fellow 2K gamers. Now that you’ve spent your entire weekend customizing and re-customizing your MyPlayer, using multiple user profiles to play the story over and over again, we now know a little about what to expect from this year’s game in terms of gameplay and Career Mode. From better dribbling moves and size-ups to blow-bys and step-backs, isolation and isomotion is going to give a even more realistic experience proving yourself on the “Proving Grounds” and breaking the ankles of your favorite NBA players under the big lights.
The intro was pretty cool. Everyone in “The Neighborhood” knows DJ is destined to be the next NBA star and put their city on the map. With that being said, the story is just too predictable and the cut scenes are too long. It took me about 4 and half hours to complete the prelude and I played 3 games on the grounds going to 21 by 1’s and 2’s and 2 scrimmages with a 5 minute running clock. I like how everything will carry over into the game once it releases but not enough basketball. I get it. It’s all about the build up and creating the hype, but hoopers just want to hoop. Even the cut scenes within the pickup games could done away with. Why can’t the celebrations of a big shot (or just show-boating) be done within the flow of the game itself? If that’s your style then talk your trash but do it at the wrong time and it will cost you. Remember in Fight Night how you could taunt your opponent? Fights of my own have ended because I wanted to taunt my opponent and in mid taunt a haymaker hits me right between the eyes. Lights out!
Everyone likes to score. You win by outscoring your opponent. However, it seems tougher to score this year with better defensive A.I. That being said, 2K has equipped players with a more intuitive and fluid dribbling system. You can bust out some serious crossover combinations if you have the ball in the hands of an elite ball handler. There are still the ankle breaking animations in the game, but you really have to do some serious crossing to force that animation. The “force-field” those really good defenders have is no longer there either. Once the defender is on your hip, he is at your mercy. Use his disadvantage to your advantage. Use those dribbling sequences and shot animations to create the space you need and it’ll be oh too easy getting buckets.
On the contrary, 2K has always seemed to struggle in the area of passing. The bounce pass in definitely to most effective pass. But even for the bounce pass, there are certain scenarios that call for certain passes where all you can do is drop your head in disgust. Making the perfect pass is an obstacle in itself. But a two-handed chest pass across the body into the chest of your opponent is extremely frustrating when it leads to a turnover. In this year’s game, there seems to be a slight delay from when you choose your target until actual delivery, but I’m pretty sure that is directly correlated to the player’s actual passing ability and passer rating. If you make the right pass, you’ll score but it is difficult to do that when it’s the wrong type of pass.
Now back to the defense. Good, solid defense is and always has been the ability anticipate your opponents next move. Great defense is and always has been great anticipation AND forcing your opponent to do something you want them to do. The biggest change I’ve noticed is this year’s defensive A.I. Defenders are far more quick to react and are much more aware. Last year, if you ran the pick and roll in MyPlayer mode, you’d have a good second to react to the shifting defense. This year…not so much. That window closes much quicker and forces you to make the correct pass in probably have a second now. The roll man is being checked without rolling freely to the hoop while other defenders rotate on the weak side. You have to think fast (as it should be on the NBA level) or reset and run the set again. If you’re not careful, you’ll be deep into the shot clock and have to force up a tough contested shot. Enough of those and you’ll have to chuck one up in the L column.
Stealing has greatly improved in this year’s game. Again, great defense comes from forcing your opponent to turn the ball over. It is not going up to the offensive player and spamming the steal button. Spam it and you’ll be in giving your opponent 2 free points from the foul line. My advice…just lay off it for 24 seconds. You’ll get the ball back. I promise.
Prelude Rating: 8.5/10
Overall, I believe this is 2K’s best one yet. And it has to be because NBA Live is trying to make a comeback. Won’t happen but I’m all about improving and 2K seems to do that every year while addressing the concerns of its community. I’m a 2K fan because they listen, they adjust and they improve. It’s going to be great year! Comeback next week for a full review of the early release. Follow us on Instagram @HardwoodFeatures for more information leading up to release date and Twitch TV at HardwoodFeatures for actual gameplay on September 15. Let’s get it, 2K fam! How far will you go?