NBA 2K17 – Review
PC, Xbox One, PS4
The NBA 2K franchise has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity for just over the last half decade. Dethroning the NBA Live franchise was a quickly accomplished feat but there was little time taken to rest on any laurels. There’ve been numerous additions made to each entry of the NBA 2K series, with each year’s entry adding more polish, more modes and more ways to immerse yourself in the life of an NBA player – NBA 2K17 is, of course, no exception to this rule and consequently is a slam dunk.
The NBA 2K games are a love letter to the sport and fans of it. It celebrates the athletes that make the game so great, as well as the sport itself and immerses the player in the lives who live and breathe the game daily. There’s a wide range of content present so that those who want to quickly dive into a match can select a team and go, while those who want to put the many hours it takes in MyCareer to build their player and see him rise through the ranks to the levels of superstardom have the most in-depth simulation of an NBA season that I’ve seen to date.
NBA 2K17 is as we’ve come to expect from the series, a finely executed simulation of one of the world’s fastest-paced and most exciting sports. Passing is slick, shooting an art and weaving your way through a crowd to drop the hammer at the ring is extremely satisfying. Some basic RPG elements take a hold through the MyCareer mode allowing you to slowly build the attributes of your custom character, but it wasn’t too long before my gun youngster (conveniently named Paul James) was a member of my teams starting five, was getting increased game time and was dominating matches. My rise through the ranks was rapid, and in one season I found myself to have become a marquee player – it wasn’t without some grinding though – I was training 2-3 times a day, attending multiple sponsorship meetings, and making my way to meet & greets with my growing legion of fans. I guess I played some basketball as well.
2K17 has placed a greater emphasis on the stringing together of skills in your bag of tricks to confound your opponents and dazzle your audience. Stringing together subtle movements with a flick of an analogue stick combined with a couple of simple trigger presses is a blast and adds an extra layer of silk to your gameplay. There are a couple of janky animations here and there, sometimes there are some moments that defy logic, but these are few and far between, allowing the for the grace of your Stef Curry, or the sheer brutality of Lebron to take centre stage. Though sometimes the efficiency of a fast break opportunity is stifled by AI that at times falters, as a general rule, your teammates will correctly read the play and predict your next move – as any good team member does.
Of course, as wonderful as the simulation often is, the experience is what it is thanks to the sensational commentary and audio/visual design that elevates the game to extraordinary heights. Expert comments from the likes of David Aldridge, Shaq and Kevin Harlan to name but a few add an extra layer of depth to the moment to moment action and it is rare that you’ll hear the same conversation play out. Visually, there’s been yet another coat of polish put on the player models, as they again look more realistic than ever before. Festivities during the breaks do a great deal to show off the incredible atmosphere that comes with attending an NBA match.
On top of all the expected features I was thrilled to be playing as our very own Australian Boomers, the online was rock-solid throughout my entire time playing it, while there’s, of course, a tonne of satisfaction to be gleaned from building your own team in MyTeam, managing players through MyGM and much more for you to drive your way through.
NBA 2K17 is no revolution for the franchise, nor is it one for the genre, it is however, as it has been for a number of years now, an evolution of what has come before it. There are improvements, refinements and numerous extra layers of polish all present in this latest entry that ensure 2K17 remains at the forefront of all goings on in the sports game genre. While not an innovation, NBA 2K17, thanks to sheer quality alone makes itself a must-have game for anyone with even a passing interest in basketball.