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NBA 2K16 is all about making space and driving the lane

Despite those small issues, the on-court gameplay in NBA 2K16 is refined and overhauled in important ways, especially if you play realistic basketball. There were some early reports about being able to run up and down the court and dunk all over the place, but I’ve yet to really see that, online or off. Of course, it’s still relatively early in the game’s lifecycle, so it’s possible that users will find a strategy that exploits the AI like the 1-3-1 (removed in this year’s version) or the “take-charge” command (toned way down), but right now the game feels well-balanced, fair, authentic, and fun. The gameplay finally matches the visuals, making NBA 2K16 a landmark release even if all you did is just play exhibition and online games.
Ball physics feel more nuanced and movement in particular, while slightly more weighty, looks closer to the real thing while opening up an array of options on both the offensive and defensive side of the game. NBA 2K16 is all about making space and driving the lane offered by the defender. Blindly driving at the basket will get you nowhere quick, instead, you’ll need to manipulate the defenders balance via a collection of slick side-steps and movements that will open up room for a more open shot or a quick drive in to space. It still stands as one of the best RPG-style modes in any sports game, thanks in part to its high production value and personalised offering.

NBA 2K16 is just an absolutely ruthless game. Just as is the case in the real world, the superstars of the game can go on real shooting benders, and it’s just impossible to stop. You need to be on your A-game when playing defense because the AI knows exactly how to exploit the play: the amount of times I ended up leaving a three-point shooter wide open really opened my eyes to how defensive-minded you need to be. And then if you don’t screen, move off the ball, and cut during offense, your team’s offense will suffer as a result. It’s still very much a scripted affair - you can’t help but notice how coincidental certain cutscenes are in line with your performances - but it feels unique enough to incentivise me to keep playing. It’s a highly addictive mode that really pushes me to play for the win, even if I sometimes get caught up in the moment, trying too hard on offense.
When the ball is in your hands, NBA 2K16 feels great. You're far less likely these days to dribble out of bounds on accident, certainly, and shooting is made easier with a new shot meter -- previously, drastically different shot animations for different players made it a challenge to time shots well. And setting screens feels nice, even though it seems you'll miss on them most of the time. But the main thing is that simply moving around the court feels significantly more pleasant now. Unless you're on defense. Oh Lord, playing defense. Because I always start out in NBA 2K by playing MyCareer with a created player, I assumed initially that the players I guarded were able to whoosh by me for dunks at wile because my guy was bad at defense according to the math of the game. But that's not the whole story; playing defense is just clunky, the controls feeling unresponsive.
Each team has various monetary restrictions depending on the owner and the city. You can put together a team of NBA all-stars, but that doesn’t automatically translate into success. Some stars will complain because they feel they should be starting - and if that means starting on a different team, so be it. Others will get irksome if they get passed over for the all-star game or if you haven’t started negotiating their contract extension. All of these issues are important, but winning cures everything. Your players will still complain, the press will still lack faith in your answers, but almost none of it matters if you bring home an NBA title. There are still some problems with myGM mode. You’re still pestered about blockbuster trades too often and you still have to sit through the entirety of the NBA draft each season, which goes on for far too long. But on the whole, myGM mode is some of the most fun I have had with a sports game in a long while.