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NBA 2K16 brings new problems to the table

If you’re not a sports fan, you might not be familiar with the term “upside,” but it means the potential for an athlete to develop into a star. NBA 2K16 has plenty of that, as it’s one of the most ambitious attempts to date to bring a console-quality sports game experience to mobile. For now, though, it’s more like a rookie who gives you flashes of brilliance between turnovers, as its shortcomings are still way too apparent. More so than ever, 2K Sports is making an effort to bring the NBA world to your console. While there are multiple modes in which you build a team through unlocking "player cards" in almost a tournament style of play or setting up a single season to navigate as a franchise, the bread and butter of the 2K series has become MyCareer mode and MyGM mode.
 
NBA 2K16 seems to continue with the downward trend of the series. 2K16 suffers from a common problem with multi-platform and multi-generational games, in that it has a varying graphical quality across platforms. The game still looks great on the PS3 but looks the same as 2K on the PS4, possibly even a little worse. I ran into an issue with Sacramento King point guard Darren Collison where his throat seems to be cut and his head oddly misshapen. The first time I saw it I thought it was a glitch but after several games with him on the court, this has been repeated every time he gets to the free throw line. I’ve also noticed this same thing with other players who have the same skin tone as Collison, so it isn’t specific to him, just specific to his skin tone.

 
What the franchise has done such a great job of over the years is trying to make the world of NBA basketball available at your fingertips. The graphics year in and year out have been spectacular, growing ever more lifelike with each advancement in gaming technology. The basketball play has always been solid and improving as the development team works to bring realism into a pretend world by attempting to eliminate glitches and holes in the strategy when you're holding the controller. Other changes include re-worked menus which are much easier to navigate. This doesn’t seem like a particularly noteworthy tweak, but it’s been an area that the game has struggled to get right for some time. There’s also a new addition on the main screen called 2K Television, where you’ll find programmes featuring interviews with players and coaches, as well as tips for the game.
 
After last year's continual connectivity issues, we hoped Visual Concepts would take a new approach to its servers. Instead, we're facing many of the same issues, like inconsistent performance in online matches and inability to access MyCareer for stretches. NBA 2K16 also brings new problems to the table, like losing face scans that take several tries with the PlayStation Camera and Kinect to create decent results in the first place. Why that data had to be saved to a server instead of the console is beyond me. Visual Concepts claims this issue is resolved, and as the last week progressed I had better luck connecting to MyCareer, but I still encountered intermittent outages.
 
Well, if you like sports games for the narrative, NBA 2K16 has you covered. The create-a-player suite in this game is one of the most advanced yet, a welcome improvement over last year’s barebones effort. Perhaps the coolest new feature is the ability to scan your face with a Kinect or a PS4 Camera. All you need to do is sit in front of the camera and slowly rotate your head left and right. It works… to a creepy degree. It manages to get the overall facial structure, facial hair, eye shape, and more. It’s impressive, but it’s also weird to see such a likeness of you ported right into the game. There’s something very “lawnmower man” about it. During these match-ups, the commentary team delivers ample history as well as play-by-play, outlining the historical significance of the rivalries and the players involved. It's a great, dynamic history lesson for anyone whose basketball knowledge doesn't extend beyond the day Lebron James got drafted. These sequences are also presented with correct rule sets, and visual filters meant to represent classic broadcasts. '60s games are in straight up black and white, while each successive decade moves from washed-out color to increasingly crisp picture.