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NBA 2K16 is a bit of a mixed bag

Basketball fans are very familiar with the 2K series because it started back in 1999. The “2K”name was fitting for their first season because it covered the NBA in 1999-2000. Philadelphia 76ers great Allen Iverson served as the cover athlete for the first five years of the game. It started out back when the Dreamcast was a go to system, then it moved to GameCube, PS2, Xbox. By 2007 it was on PS3 and Xbox 360. Last year it debuted on the PS4 and Xbox One although it was the first year for those systems so they were still getting used to them while consumers didn’t purchase them right away. Now that the PS4 and Xbox One have been out for nearly a year, the development of the game is designed specifically for them.
 
That’s not to say the mechanics of the game aren’t important as well. NBA 2K16 is a bit of a mixed bag, but overall it plays well. There are solid improvements over last year’s edition. Running plays in previous iterations of NBA2K were kind of a nightmare. First you had to try and get the play called - god forbid to try using Kinect to do this - but even when it worked, it was difficult to run the play itself. NBA 2K16 tries to help you out here. Plays are easier to set up and their execution is a little easier to follow. That being said, the AI still doesn’t execute all that well; numerous times I had players stuck behind screens and passes that would get picked off. The “X”s and “O”s of basketball are still difficult to pick up in NBA 2K16, but the game takes a step in the right direction. Just don’t expect to get Oladipo open on those pick plays every time.
 
Even as 2K Games' NBA franchise ran unopposed for years while EA Sports' "NBA Live" series retooled, it churned out critically acclaimed and consumer-cherished titles regularly. That's why it's so disappointing to find "NBA 2K16" doesn't live up to its pedigree, even as its rival is working its way back to respectability. Oh, it's a good game; one with which series fans will be happy enough. But it's not going to blow anyone out of the water. As much as I had been complimenting the UI, in MyTeam it’s a bit of a mess and ruins the experience by making things overly complicated. MyGM mode returns although apart from some small tweaks you can attempt to take over a franchise and either select a fantasy draft or use the current roster as you attempt to win championships.
 
Controlling players is nice and responsive. The control sticks of the controller pretty much dominates the overall controls of each player. Using the left stick to move and the right stick to use certain guarding techniques depending on which direction you hold it down whilst defending and different shooting techniques when your attacking. Fouling is common though if you choose to try to steal the ball and jump up to deflect an imminent jump shot which incurs free shots. Free shots require expert timing to sink it in the net. The game doesn’t tell you how well your doing, you just have to guess and the game tells you how good the shot was when the ball has left your hands. Each player has a shot bar underneath them which fills and empties depending on their position on the court.
 
It’s quite a treat to see in motion as the basketball players move as you would expect, and there are also vastly improved player models to resemble the NBA players you know. In addition to the improved graphics engine, the touch controls, while not perfect, let you fully be in control of all the action on screen. It seems 2K put most of their effort into the graphics department, leaving the feature set on the simple side. The game only includes quick play single game mode, or mycareer mode with no season, or franchise mode to choose from. The MyCareer mode feels identical to the last generation console version, minus the audio, which again is quite an achievement. There’s the third person behind the basket camera angle to see the flow of the action, and play as just one player from draft pick all the way up the depth chart. The quick game mode doesn’t offer the most depth, but it does let you play with any two teams in a full five on five game to switch between players, and control all of the action.
 
There's no multiplayer options either. It'd be nice to see a turn-based free throw game chucked in so you could play with friends if you wanted. Still, there's an impressive game once you get beyond all that. It's not console perfect, but it's still a fine display of how far smartphone and tablet gaming has come in the last few years.