Greater than ever!
2K had a difficult job with this game, their annual basketball sim. Last year’s installment — NBA 2K16 — was a runaway hit, adored by critics and gamers alike. The stakes were unusually high for this year’s release to not drop the ball. That’s like the virtual equivalent of Chicago Bulls replacing Michael Jordan in his last season with LeBron James at the peak of his game, or Manchester United drafting in Pep Guardiola to take over from the legendary Alex Ferguson. That’s one helluva task. But the good guys working on NBA 2K17 must be gifted geniuses because they managed to pull off the unthinkable! It’s nothing short of a miracle. Pure basketball bliss.
Compared to NBA 2K16 last year, 2K17 feels even more fluid and dynamic. The controls have been tweaked by just a smidge to make it more intuitive and indicative than last year, and this makes all the difference while playing the game.
For instance, now there’s a semicircle under the player you’re controlling to indicate the right time to release and throw the ball. Ball-related actions performed as the semicircle turns green ensures the best possible result — for the most part. Fail to execute a properly timed shot (which is when the circle turns green) and you have to see it horribly go wide or bounce off the rim — not a pretty sight. This visual aid single-handedly makes a big difference for newcomers taking to the franchise for the very first time. Very quickly, you get a sense of timing with not only shot-making, but dribbling, making runs and generally playing more intelligently than a headless chicken.
While defending, stealing has become a lot less foul-inducing in NBA 2K17 and more realistic. Whether you’re deflecting the ball out of an opponent’s hands, intercepting a pass or legally trying to be as big a defensive prick as you can, timing again plays a crucial role in 2K17 and you’ll notice that erroneous bump-ins or flick of the wrists don’t invite the referee’s wrath as easily as it used to earlier. This is great as it lets you play the game without unnecessary interruptions, helping you soak in the atmosphere that much more.
And what can I say about NBA 2K17’s in-game atmosphere? It is easily — and I mean even a kindergarten kid can see the difference that this game is — the best virtual sports simulator game. Even EA Sports’ multi-million-dollar FIFA franchise — great as it is — falls short of captivating the player like NBA 2K17 does. The arena, the crowd reacting to every ebb and flow of the game, the camera angles, the players, the commentators, half-time team mascot games, dunk challenges, sponsor logos, the overall sound and visuals of NBA 2K17 is a sensory treat. It showcases an incredible level of realism in terms of how events actually unfold inside an NBA game arena. And NBA 2K17 still has the best in-game commentary, continuing to be the gold standard as far as immersive commentary in a sports sim is concerned. It’s like you’re watching a game on the tele and controlling every player on the pitch. It’s an incredible feeling!
Everything from the dull thump of the ball hitting the floor to shoes skidding, from rattling baskets to crowd hurrahs and groans — the soundscape is especially fine tuned this year, I think. Or maybe I’m noticing it because of getting my earwax removed. But no, something’s definitely enhanced for the better in NBA 2K17, as everything sound seems more in sync, more organic, less mechanical, than before. Like a great symphony orchestra conducted in perfect harmony!
|Developers – Visual Concepts
Publishers – 2K Sports
Genre – Sports simulation
Platforms – Xbox (360, One), PS (3,4), Windows PC,
Price: Rs. 3,325 (PS4)
Remember how we wished there was a minor training tutorial in last year’s edition of the game? Well, great to see that wish fulfilled through the 2KU mode, which puts you in short scrimmage game scenarios to quickly teach you basic controls. How to shoot, pass and retrieve the ball is explained through pop-ups in a linear, static manner. It’s a start, no doubt, but what would’ve been even better if the tutorial was slightly more dynamic — as in just as you jumped up to take a shot at the hoop, the scene froze and the tutorial explained the importance of timing a jump, shooting odds, etc. Adding that bit of dynamism to 2KU mode would’ve made it even more fun and relatable, especially for first-timers taking to the franchise.
In terms of game modes, MyGM and MyLeague continue largely as is with very few changes, so is the online multiplayer mode — which continues to excel like last year. In my books, the best tweak has been made to MyCareer. Last year’s version was essentially a Spike Lee movie full of cutscenes and melodrama, with occasional user interactivity. This feature was controversial because there was no way to turn it off – pissing off even the most ardent fans of the game. Thankfully, all that’s out and the MyCareer mode in NBA 2K17 allows you to fully steer your player’s choices and the teams he plays for in quintessential MyCareer style.
NBA 2K17 Verdict
NBA 2K17 retains all the goodness of NBA 2K16 but tweaks it ever so slightly to make it the near-perfect example of how a sports sim should be. Whether you’re a fan of basketball or not, it’s just a fantastic way to enjoy one incredibly immersive and highly entertaining virtual gaming experiences of this year. Highly recommended for anyone to give this a try.
|Great, immersive atmosphere
Great audio, improved graphics
Intuitive, easier controls
MyCareer mode is non-linear
|Static training mode|
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Jayesh "Big Daddy" Shinde
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