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NBA 2K16 almost does everything right for another year

NBA 2K16 has been one of my more anticipated releases for this year, especially after my experience with 2K15. That wasn’t a bad game but I did score it lower than most due to needing online connections to access some saves, and how it felt like the game almost guided you to purchasing virtual currency to really make the most of it. If I put 2K16 and 2K15 side by side now I’d also have to say how bland in comparison the 2K15 looks to the most recent instalment in the franchise.
Popping the disc into the machine, I was to be given a lesson on just how good a sport game could be, and ever since that day, my love for the NBA2K games has stayed with me for 14 years now. Back then it was astonishing to seem and to play just how realistic a sports game could really be. EA Sports games while often fun to play, never seemed to capture the true realism of any of the sports they covered but NBA 2K was different, it not only looked almost lifelike but played like a true sim but was still so much fun to play.
Most important to the experience is the gameplay, and performing on the court is fast, fluid, and exciting. There will be a learning curve on offense for those unfamiliar with the game, as each player now has specific timing on his shot indicated by a meter underneath his feet. Players have to get that meter as close to the center as possible before letting go of the ball, and a color-coded scheme lets me know how successful a shot will be before it even goes in. Passing is a bit strange, as I have to indicate which player I want to pass to before doing so, a method quickly forgotten before heaving an errant pass down the court when I wanted to give it to the teammate next to me.
On the court, you’ll find a significant but satisfying challenge, especially on higher difficulties. No longer can a speedy point guard such as Stephen Curry rely almost solely on speed; you need to set up your defenders, using all the considerable tools in in your arsenal to free up and get a shot off. Defensively, you’ll see offensive player moves more easily, allowing you to react more efficiently; offensively, you’ll see the same things, gaining a better (and more satisfying) indication of exactly when you’ve beaten your man. Superstars benefit most from the adjustments; there’s nothing more fun than manhandling the computer A.I. with Kobe Bryant or LeBron James.
Besides the aesthetics, there have been numerous tweaks in terms of gameplay and it results in some impressive end to end action. The AI is improved, as are the physics. Attacking is intuitive and within minutes of picking up the controller you’ll be bombing down the court, creating vital space and then slamming the ball into the basket with aplomb. The new Shot Meter that sits beneath each player is a welcome addition too, offering some visual feedback as to when is best to release the ball for a shot - although you may find you spend your time looking at your players’ feet to see the guide rather than your team mates and what is happening around the rest of the court.
Not everything can be great, and the biggest problem I have with this game is the load times. The videos of Shaq and Ernie are fun, but there are a lot of instances where all you have to stare at is a counter ticking up to 100. They just take way too long by today’s standards. That coupled with how the servers are currently behaving is enough to drive me away a bit, as I found myself getting lost in my phone while I tried to connect or just get into a game. These aren’t deal-breakers though, and the 2K NBA series really has come a long way.
Another superlative effort, NBA 2K16 almost does everything right for another year. But there's simply no escaping how poor the online component of the game is, thanks to 2K Sport's lacklustre servers. On-court, where it really counts, the experience is still unmatched, with fantastic commentary, slick gameplay, total authenticity and attention to detail. There's still loads of room for improvement though, especially in MyPark, which at present features a bit too much hanging around and waiting to get a game going. Assuming it even works properly, of course.