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NBA 2K16 is a noteworthy achievement in the world of sports gaming

For years now, the folks at 2K Sports have dominated the sport of basketball when it comes to recreating that virtual NBA experience for gamers. Jumping to next generation hasn’t created any new obstacles or hiccups, but on the contrary, has helped the game to evolve into a bigger and better beast that fans of the NBA will be clamoring for year in and year out — provided of course they continue to grow and not rest on their laurels. This will be more and more pressing especially if EA has anything to say about it now that they are in their 2nd year of their revitalized NBA Live franchise. Live is looking better and better and could very well serve to be great competition if they continue to bring their efforts to the table against 2K.
 
While EA’s efforts are genuinely improved, it will still be another year or two until they will be any serious threat to 2K’s crown. NBA2K16 is a damn near perfect simulation of the sport of basketball that tops even all of their own efforts they have put out over the last decade or so. While there are still a couple minor issues that the developers need to overcome to deliver a flawless performance, it is certain that this year’s effort only has a blemish or two that will certainly clear up with age. And you’d better enjoy it, because that’s almost all NBA 2K16 has to offer right now, aside from Quick Games between real NBA teams. The Season and Blacktop modes are both listed as “Upcoming,” which would be acceptable if people weren’t paying a premium price for this. A sports game without a Season mode, even on mobile, is borderline inexcusable in 2014.

 
One of the bright spots for NBA 2K16 is the MyCareer mode, but before we get into that, we have to take a look at the new face mapping software. Several games in the past have given you the chance to take an image of yourself and then have that image rendered into 3D and added to a game title. 2K16 brings that feature to the PS4 and, if you are patient and follow directions, you can create a player that has a decent resemblance to yourself. If you try to do this in a hurry, the results would make a pretty good Halloween mask. 2K included a face scanning guide with their review materials and, while following the in-depth guide, I was able to create a somewhat familiar face, even though he has more hair than me. I have uploaded the guide and it can be viewed here. I could have made him more true to life, but what 20-year old kid has a receding hairline and a balding head?
 
Thanks to 2K Sports, I've been able to play the game over the last few days to be able to give my thoughts on NBA 2K16 and what's stood out to me is the efforts made in order to not just give you a mode to try out but to give you a story to follow. Let's talk about MyCareer, MyGM and the gameplay and presentation from NBA 2K16. Building a championship team is one of the most befuddling jobs in professional sports. You can get everything aligned – a collection of star players in their prime surrounded by hardworking secondary players and a motivating head coach – only to watch the season unravel when a critical player goes down to injury, an off-field matter becomes a distraction, or players don't perform up to expectations.
 
NBA 2K16 is like one of these on-the-cusp clubs. It has nearly everything you could ask for from a sports game, but one chronic deficiency it claimed to have overcome – server woes – once again keeps the series from reaching its potential. Still, these are minor missteps in an otherwise gloriously presented game – and the gameplay continues to be just as strong. Your shot bar now exists under your player, and is much easier to spot and keep track of. Player collisions are also more realistic and make much more sense. The same thing can be said about rebounding: players’ bodies contort appropriately when going up to fight for the glass. In truth, the changes are minimal – but it’s not a massive disaster, as the title was already so good to begin with.
 
Although far from perfect, NBA 2K16 is a noteworthy achievement in the world of sports gaming with fast paced, fluid gameplay that is frighteningly lifelike. Both fun to play and realistic, this is the basketball game to have this year. Unfortunately, online gameplay performance is so variable and load times so oppressive that I cannot give NBA 2K16 an Editors' Choice nod.