NBA 2K16 continues to bring us, year after year, a realistic basketball experience. But beyond its teams, next generation graphics, and plethora of modes, this year the famed basketball simulator is notable for something else: the new Career Mode. Is this what we've been waiting for?
The NBA experience you've been looking for
Whereas other editions of NBA 2K focused on improving their graphics and playability, the 2K16 edition goes beyond: a reformulation of the My Career mode.
In last years iteration you could begin by losing the draft and having to work up to being hired by an NBA team, but this year 2K Sports took it much farther by putting you in the shoes of a university student just starting to get noticed by universities and the draft alike, ready to be noticed and become an NBA legend.
Now don't think you have to play a complete year of university basketball under the NCAA (perhaps next year...) but you are at least given the chance to summarize it in four matches with the appropriate corresponding rules.
2K Sports didn't just want to make this aspect more professional, but also wanted to follow the player in his day-to-day life. A welcome surprise, since the Career Mode is directed by Spike Lee, you'll find yourself thrown into an unimaginable series of events.
You begin as the son of a poor African American family from a run-down neighborhood with a twin sister who teaches you basketball. You'll also come across plenty of cinematic scenes of your parents talking up what a nice boy you are, of course, not to mention how much you've sacrificed. Topics that, if you have the game scan your face or you pick a different ethnicity, are likely to come across quite strange. You can always wave it away as a fluke of genetics, but it can easily result in awkwardness.
Despite these hiccups, My Career continues to be a good mode with fresh ideas, though it would've been nice to be able to interact with the story characters. You will at least get the chance to make important professional decisions in the course of your story however. As a plus, you also get to experience cameos from real players who offer you their assistance throughout the course of your adventure. How would you like to have Stephen Curry be your mentor?
Even though the new My Career mode is a great base for NBA 2K16, rest assured that 2K Games hasn't rested on its laurels for the other modes. You'll also find My Team, similar to Ultimate Team from FIFA 16 but for basketball. And, of course, you can just play regular match-ups just for fun or to experiment with the multitude of online modes.
As far as teams are concerned, you'll not only find all the usual teams from the actual NBA, but you'll also get 12 classic teams, like the Dallas Mavericks from 2003 and the Portland Trail Blazers from 2000 as a bonus. Fans of European basketball aren't left out either, you'll find the same 25 teams from the Euroleague that we already saw in NBA 2K15.
Impeccable yet again
2K Sports continues to tweak NBA 2K and in this version we find two new and interesting changes. On one hand, "strong" defense and the ability to attack are handled by the same button, which makes both techniques much more intuitive.
On the other hand, if you hold down one of the buttons continuously you'll see a basketball symbol showing you the possible passes and movements of certain players (assigned by button). This makes it much easier for the player visualize all the possible plays and to pull off impressive assists.
We would be remiss if we didn't also mention the graphical aspects of NBA 2K16. 2K Sports brings it yet again, offering up detailed courts and amazing facial animations for players that could quite possibly be the most realistic we've seen in a sports game. Though we'd like to mention that it's more noteworthy on the Xbox 720 and PS4; this year they've dropped the ball a bit with their PC "port".
NBA season returns
NBA 2K16 shows itself once again to be absolutely required for fans of simulated basketball. Its rich selection of modes, realism, and nods to the past make it a very tempting title.