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MyPlayer mode remains the marquee attraction in NBA 2K16

Other times, my comparison between “in real life” basketball and NBA 2K16 has more to do with the experience of being a basketball player, whether momentary, like with a pickup basketball game and it’s digital parallel of “MyPark,” or whether imagining life as an NBA pro. The vast majority of the game is built around a replication of the professional game experience, and whether you are playing a quick matchup, or sinking hours into the revamped MyCareer mode, this is really where NBA 2K16 exhibits the highest level of polish, and where you can find some welcome innovations to the sports game genre.
 
Menu system in NBA 2K16 is a bit clunky but other than slow entering and exiting menu pages the menus are pretty crisp and easy to use. The presentation of the Main Menu is rough though. Every time a player boots up 2K they are greeted by the always annoying and never asked for 2KTV. Can’t be disabled or be muted, this “feature” can be removed next year with no community backlash. Competition is scarce on the basketball video game scene, but that hasn’t kept the team at 2K from pushing the NBA 2K franchise forward. Even with that success, one might assume that hiccups may occur as more and more untread ground is tread, as with any franchise. Thankfully, not much keeps NBA 2K16 from feeling like an investable improvement over last year’s installment.
 
MyPlayer mode remains the marquee attraction in NBA 2K16, and the game drives the point home with the appearance of the player-creation process before any kind of main menu. The game even allows players to scan their own faces into the game, though the feature spawned some horrific creations in its first week. When it works, it works well, but when it doesn't, we see monsters like this. Despite the face scan issues, it shows ambition that extends to the rest of the mode. The game attempts to present an intricate story in which a player doesn't get drafted but works with his agent and scores a few 10-day contracts before getting a more substantial offer from a team. Along the way he gets advice from NBA stars who lend their voices to the game and add a bit of flavor to the overall story.

 
By far my favorite mode is MyCareer. This mode follows a created player through his career from undrafted prospect to potential NBA Hall of Famer. More than just a simple game to game career there are cutscenes, dialogue choices, off-court drama and rivalries to replicate everything a star player goes through. Those of you that have followed my reviews on the site or podcast know I’m a sucker for a great career mode, and NBA 2K16 offers one of the best. The gameplay when controlling one player is flawless, and the game almost seems built around this. Another gripe I had was the face scanning. While I ultimately got an eerily accurate scan of my face, it took numerous attempts to get that right scan. Many people have been running into all kinds of problems with this tech, but if you can get it to work right, it’s an incredibly cool feature that makes MyCareer a much more involving investment.
 
You can easily lose hours to NBA 2K16's plethora of modes, and it's really testament to just how strong the core basketball experience remains, with an unrivalled level of realism and authenticity. There are additions for newcomers, like the shot meter attached to the player indicator that enables you to see where you need to improve your touch with the Pro-Stick when shooting. It can be a little off-putting at times, but the shot meter can be turned off should you find it too distracting. While not a huge leap over last year's game, NBA 2K16 is nonetheless a fantastic basketball game, despite its issues. More a safe lay-up than a resounding slam dunk then.
 
On the flip side, I have to make sure to mention the nice touch of still putting in a controls manual with the physical copy. A lot of games seem to be slowly opting out of this but for those of us who remember reading the book on the drive home or as someone else plays first, it does mean a lot. I spend enough time staring at screens and I don’t want to look at the menu if I’m trying to remember how to do a specific move. I know it probably doesn’t even register to most people, but it made a pretty big difference to me.