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A simple fix for Visual Concepts to either include in a patch or NBA 2K16

With EA’s NBA Live series once again floundering, it’s left to the all-conquering NBA 2K series to essentially compete with itself. It would be easy for Visual Concepts to rest on its laurels in light of such paltry competition (sorry EA), but in fairness to the California-based development team, they have once again released a sequel that, while fundamentally similar to last year’s release, is superior to its predecessor in just about every way. By and large, though, I feel like NBA 2K16 does a better job of capturing the heart and soul of the NBA experience better than any other game up to this point. I felt guilty when I upped sticks and moved town with my first created player, I could never say know to Ross' soft-spoken suggestions for getting a bit of extra practice in, I felt fired up after the new half-time team talks.
 
The NBA is a carnival of big players and even bigger personalities, and this game truly understands that the spectacle is a huge part of why the sport is so entertaining. In spite of the little niggles here and there, it does a great job of establishing that in this game. It's still not perfect, but it's the best rags-to-riches superstar career experience you can get, and its the beating heart at the core of NBA 2K16 in my opinion. My one complaint with this mode is how convoluted swapping players is. Instead of showing you your full roster on the side and each player’s overall rating, you have to select a player from your starting five, then select each player individually to see their overall and how they would positively or negatively impact your team. A simple fix for Visual Concepts to either include in a patch or NBA 2K16.

 
The biggest return for NBA 2K16 is MyPlayer mode, with a few huge changes. Instead of playing through the Rookie Showcase and having no control of where you end up, you start off as an undrafted free agent with the ability to choose from a limited selection of teams interested in your skills. You can even scan your real face to have it included in the game, but be warned there are some horrifying bugs that need to be worked out first. I was especially excited to try this year’s MyPark mode, and though the idea is as fresh as ever, I found the novelty wearing thin more quickly than I would have hoped. Essentially, this is an online mode that lets you play on non-NBA street courts and battle for “rep” via pickup games, and though it succeeds as a fun change of pace, internet ball-hogs can sometimes spoil the experience.
 
Games have been capped to 15 points to minimize wait times, but the more I played, the more I unfortunately felt drawn to standard online exhibitions. I plan to experiment with MyPark more, but your mileage is probably going to vary. When it works, NBA 2K16 offers a triple double worth of compelling content, from its accessible but deep gameplay to the deep MyGM and dramatic MyCareer modes. Unfortunately, the connectivity issues continue to box out players from its engaging experiences. Not every mode is affected, but tying the predominantly offline MyCareer to the servers was a poor decision, as was the choice to once again take the court with an under performing online suite. What enjoyment you get out of the game will likely be tied to how much importance you place on connected experiences.
 
NBA 2K16 runs great on the PC and looks spectacular, however we have some minor complaints about the PC version. For starters - and while the game supports both keyboard+mouse and controllers - the navigation menu is just bad. This was one of the few times we were really annoyed by a game’s menu, so that’s an area that 2K Games will have to further enhance and improve in NBA 2K16. From the layout to the lack of proper audio options tab, NBA 2K16’s menu screams ‘amateurism’. In addition, we encountered a number of audio issues (audio volumes are seriously messed up).
 
Overall, if you liked the NBA 2K series before, you're going to be more than happy with what you're getting this year. Everything from the gameplay to the menus have been improved, and even the hand-curated Pharrell soundtrack is filled with jams and memorable throwbacks. Is it the best sports game ever made? That's up for debate; Dusty Diamond's All-Star Softball was still pretty dope. But if you are looking for the king of next-gen round ball, we're pretty sure you've found it.