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It is nice that NBA 2K16 wants to get you in the spotlight

Out on the court, things still look fantastic with each arena looking better than ever and the players themselves arguably representing the finest likenesses available in any sports title on the market. The biggest improvement though comes in the form of the new animations, movements and physics. Not only does both player and ball movement look better than ever before, but the effect that these additions have on the actual gameplay make this the most realistic and natural feeling NBA game to date. Not only do these new movement allow you to carefully craft additional space for the shot, but the new shot meter will also give you a visual representation of how you have been rewarded for your hard work. Rather than assuming that the space you made for yourself has given you a better chance of hitting that jumper, the shot bar gives you a clear (but unobtrusive) visual representation of your chances.
 
NBA 2K16’s best features - particularly its crafty offensive and defensive reliance, not to mention its smarter AI - certainly overshadow its occasional visual breakdown, with glitches and clipping ruining an otherwise fine presentation. And don’t even bother with the face scan: it’s a frustrating time waster. However, the game broadly looks great, complemented by the great commentary duo of Kevin Harlan, Clark Kellogg and Steve Kerr, even if Kerr is now a coach of the Golden State Warriors: having him commentate the game he’s also coaching is comedic, if a little jarring. Still the best sports game on the market, NBA 2K16 has a refined physics engine and smarter AI, offering an all-round fine execution of basketball fundamentals. With plenty of great modes including arguably the most personable experience in all sports games in MyCareer, NBA 2K16 is still the champion of the genre.
 
For every improvement there's a corresponding hiccup. The screen mechanic is much more responsive, yes, but the refs call moving screen fouls all the time now. Ballhandling is more responsive and simpler, but those same refs rarely seem to call shooting fouls. We've been playing sports games for a lot of years, and so things like that honestly aren't incredibly aggravating, but they do remind us that on a yearly cycle it's an evolution -- and significant changes to the core gameplay from one title to the next always bring with them some unintentional awkwardness as well. We've learned to live with that stuff, and so when the box score starts giving you +/- ratings in the hundreds I just have to laugh.
 
It’s nice that NBA 2K16 wants to get you in the spotlight, but I was so hopelessly outmatched, I couldn’t do much to help my team win. My mentor would tell me how bad I was, the press would ask why I took responsibility for the loss - the whole time I lacked the option to say, “Yeah, well I never thought I would be bumping Jimmy Butler to the bench.” The whole time I flounder in the starting role, NBA2K reminds me that - for another $15 - I could bump up the skills of my player so he’s a respectable starter. NBA 2K16 isn’t as aggressive about its microtransactions as last year’s game was, but it still feels pretty gross at times. Everything from dunk animations to clothing costs in-game currency and is locked behind paywalls.
 
Thankfully things in MyCareer have improved, there is some way to go but 2K have at least taken on feedback and tried to improve the experience for fans. As it stands your character miss out at the NBA draft but gets a chance to earn a 10-day contract with a team later on in the season, if you perform well you may bag yourself another contract, and then possibly a proper one after that. It’s a shame there is no option to start the game in similar fashion to last year, where you played in the game before the draft to show off your skills in front of the scouts. Either way it’s a little bit frustrating at first as you don’t get much game time but if you are patient it becomes really good fun.
 
Then there’s the one pure moment, when you’ve got the fast break on, one defender to beat, quick passing between your players before posterizing the poor guy with a dunk so hard you’ll feel the shockwave on far side of your living room. You’ll watch the replay a few times. The absolute best part of the game, though, is the soundtrack. Hand picked by Pharrell Williams, the list surprisingly contains a large number of tracks produced with beats by Pharrell. If anything’s gonna make you a baller, Public Enemy followed by Missy Elliot and then Busta Rhymes will make you a baller. The only thing missing is the Monstars.