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2K has turned all of its sporting efforts to NBA 2K16

Building a championship team is one of the most befuddling jobs in professional sports. You can get everything aligned - a collection of star players in their prime surrounded by hardworking secondary players and a motivating head coach - only to watch the season unravel when a critical player goes down to injury, an off-field matter becomes a distraction, or some of the players don’t perform up to expectations. NBA 2K16 is like one of these on-the-cusp clubs. It has nearly everything you could ask for from a sports game, but one chronic deficiency it claimed to have overcome - server woes - once again keeps the series from reaching its potential.
 
If NBA 2K16 were firing on all cylinders, it would push FIFA as the best sports game on the market thanks to its best-in-class presentation, forward-looking franchise experience, and innovative MyCareer mode. But the decision to tie several game modes - some of which are experienced entirely offline, like MyCareer - to unstable servers that continue to have intermittent outages overshadows the great strides the game makes in other areas. The first thing you’ll notice upon hopping into a standard exhibition are the varied options available to you when running your offense. Though far from being a game I’d call “highly technical,” NBA 2K16 is now heavily focused on managing and dishing out instructions.

 
Cuts, picks, specific motion patterns, and more are selected and executed from the comfort of the Dualshock 4’s D-pad, and though I found the wealth of options overwhelming at first, my worries were soon put to rest once I was successfully setting up teammates for wide-open jumpers and traffic-free lanes to the basket. Does all of this mean that you can no longer run aimlessly like a madman until a layup opportunity presents itself? No, you can still do that. But it’s going to be both more difficult and less enjoyable than strategizing with the other four guys on the floor. NBA 2K16 includes a MyLeague mode which allows you to run your team of choice, but without all the RPG-elements included in MyGM mode such as conversations. It’s a throwback to the Association mode of yesterday, but the true challenge comes from MyGM.
 
There you’ll have to not only worry about fielding the best team, but also answer questions from the media, deal with stadium prices, and fulfill promises to an owner who may or may not have the patience to keep you around long term. In no way can you make everybody happy, but you have to keep everything at a gentle boil to get through the season and keep all the plates spinning. Conversations, and how you go through them, are important to how this mode plays out. One blunder can lose you the trust of your star player, another GM, or even your team’s owner. MyLeague is basically this year's Association mode, letting you customize a team-based career experience to your liking and then play the thing. It's easy to jump into, as deep as you like (you can define a franchise for up to 80 seasons if you like), and you can even customize divisions, which is a nice touch.
 
MyGM is still a sprawling leviathan, even more so than in previous years. As with MyCareer, Visual Concepts have really made an effort to flesh out the day-to-day details, with a huge array of interweaving conversation options and dialogue trees, visible gauges of your relationships with players and press and a host of issues and bureaucratic dramas that befits the life of an NBA general manager. It's almost overwhelmingly big, to be honest, and I was sort of afraid to jump in. There's so much to be had here across all of NBA 2K16's content and modes, but the game does a fairly risible job of welcoming newcomers into the fold. 2K Sports has bowed out of many of the sports franchises they once took part in, void of a football, baseball, and hockey game on major consoles, 2K has turned all of its sporting efforts to NBA 2K16.
 
It doesn’t reinvent the wheel and still has a few presentational issues, but NBA 2K16 improves upon last year’s already fantastic release in just about every way while saving the biggest changes for the fundamental gameplay out on the court. The visual upgrade isn’t nearly as pronounced this time around, but the new animations, balancing and improved physics make this the most authentic feeling basketball game to date. The learning curve might be a little steeper, but the rewards are greater than ever with both offence and defence feeling like a constantly evolving battle of wits. It looks fantastic, it plays great, and once again trounces the competition with consummate ease.