NBA 2K17


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Complete Review & Description

It seems 2K has finally realised that not everybody who picks up an NBA game will know how to play basketball. Like me.
After loading the game, NBA 2K17 will still require you to play through a tutorial while the rest of it loads. This is where 2KU takes over. This mode (also available in the Play Now section of the game) teaches you not only how to play the game, but also how to play basketball. Instruction in the latter comes from the legendary Coach K, Mike Krzyzewski (so famous even this non-NBA fan has heard of him, though I double checked the spelling of his name).

While you won’t come away as an expert you will learn the fundamentals of spacing and position play. The importance of boxing out and having more defensive skills than just headless-chicken-style running around.

And this is important. Sports games aren’t just for current fans – they’re also for building new ones. They can turn a casual fan into an obsessed junkie or put someone with a passing interest on the road to junkie-dom. They can also turn off would-be fans. A friend of mine tried Madden for the first time last season and was completely overwhelmed and gave up on NFL football.

In a sense, these games are more of an ad for the sport than the slow-motion replay shots with accompanying hip-hop (though I do love those).
NBA 2K17 is a perfect evolution from previous years. The changes in My Player are the most significant.
If you read my review of the previous version you may recall that I made My Player (NBA 2K’s career mode) into a power forward without really knowing what that meant. This time around I made a point guard.

In the creation stage you now get to choose what type of player you want to be in that position. Do you want to be a three-point shooter or a guy who gets to the bucket? It also gives you examples of current NBA players to measure yourself against. Literally in the case of height and arm span. Though there are limits, so your dreams of being the first 5’0” NBA centre are already in trouble.

When creating your face NBA 2K have, once again, tried to offer a face scanning technology. This time it’s via an app for your phone. I’m always game for this type of thing and fired it up. You need a second person here to help you because you need to turn your head away from the screen. After numerous heads turns and file uploads I finally packed it in. The file never worked (and you only find this out after you upload it to the main game) so I didn’t even get to see if it turned me into an eye-less monster as in previous years.

This year’s career mode follows [your first name] “The President” [your second name], aka Pres. Unlike previous years, I didn’t cringe constantly at the storyline. There’s no antagonist, you can just do your thing. You can choose to practice every chance possible or be a primadonna who only shows up for mandated practices.

There’s also a system to communicate with NPCs via in-game text messages which open up new options. So if you want to hang out with a friend, that option will be added to your daily schedule. Of course you could also blow off that friend after saying you’ll show up, which can have negative consequences.

Thankfully there are new ways to gain coins. Coins are what ruins 2K17 and has ruined every previous version. Coins are how you upgrade your player or your franchise or anything you want to customise. In 2K17 you can earn extra points by answering trivia questions in loading screens, and by doing certain achievements, like hitting five shots in a row in practice.

It’s always been a slow slog to get enough coins, and even with the new way as of earning them it still isn’t quick. When I do get them I spend them on attributes rather than outfits. As such my player wears stock, drab clothing and sneakers, despite being a highly paid NBA star.
Of course you can buy more coins, but if you’ve already paid for the game why do you want to shell out more for coins? I’ve said it before about games like this: if you’re a triple-A title, don’t lower yourself with in-game purchases like this.

What confounded me was that the amount of practice I did, didn’t correlate to an increase in the associated attribute. So no matter how many times I practiced three-pointers, my three-point shooting score didn’t go up accordingly. Practicing does unlock more things that you can buy with coins, but it doesn’t give you coins (not directly at least). This seems to go against the point of practising: practising make me better at things, not just more likely to get better at things.

As always the graphics and motion capture are amazing. A friend, who was staying with us, walked into the room while the game was in demo mode and said “Hey, I’ll watch basketball with you”, and it took them a minute to realise it wasn’t a real game.
The passing seems smoother, with fewer going to random players. The options for other types of passing (bounce etc) as well as defensive manoeuvres have been tidied up. Not everything is reliant on the right thumb stick anymore.

It seems redundant to say that this year’s version of NBA 2K is the best, because every new release should be, right? But in games change isn’t always good. So let me tell you that all of the changes made in this version are improvements. The only thing left to do is get rid of those damn coins!



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