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This year 2K handed the storytelling duties to director Spike Lee

Over the years we’ve seen an evolution of the shot stick and later, the shot meter. In NBA 2K15, the shot meter has been refined to make it easier to hit jumpers no matter who the player. Previously, you essentially had to memorise the shooting technique of every player on your team. Now you can just rely on the meter’s on-screen prompt to know when to release. It makes for a smoother, more intuitive approach to shooting. Being open, making contact and positioning of course all influence how the meter works, and so hitting a player’s sweet spot is of course reliant on a number of factors. If a player has a poor ranking when shooting in traffic, for example, the sweet spot release on the meter is going to be smaller and therefore harder to make the shot. It works really well.
 
As you move about the court, the bar will widen and shorten based upon the player on the ball and their position on the court. The wider the bar, the easier it is to make the shot with timing window shortening or widening based upon numerous factors including the defenders around you and the proximity to that player’s unique signature shot etc. It’s a fundamentally simplistic addition, but one that makes a huge difference to the core gameplay. It’s not all about the offence though - the defensive side of the game also feels far more nuanced thanks to the greater emphasis on balance and positioning. It is initially trickier than last year and a single mistake can see skilled players drive past you in the blink of an eye, but even the most talented and fleet footed of offensive players can be stopped in their tracks by careful planning and tactical positioning.

 
The on-court action has been seriously tweaked this time around, too. I tend to play most of my matches on the highest difficulty setting, and what's been clear to me, at least, is that there's a much greater margin for error and failure. I like the fact that there's now a shooting bar. It gamifies things a little -- before you had to read the shot animation of your player, and really become comfortable with releasing a shot at the top of the action -- but it ultimately gives you more visual feedback and helps you improve. That stats certainly seem to have more of an impact makes that all the more important. The other option for franchise fans is MyLeague, which strips the role-playing elements from the mode experience in favor of giving players total control of the settings. With fantasy drafts, the ability to control as many teams as you’d like, and tweakable sliders for everything from player morale to trade difficulty, MyLeague is a great option for control freaks. It’s a shame this mode doesn’t include the option to play with friends online.
 
For the last few years the destination mode for NBA 2K games has been MyCareer, which puts you in the shoes of an up-and-coming baller breaking into the NBA. This year 2K handed the storytelling duties to famed director Spike Lee, who takes the experience in a decidedly cinematic direction. Users still create their own player, but Lee is the true owner of this story. Player agency means little to Lee – no matter what race or creed you create for your MyPlayer, you play the role of “Frequency Vibrations,” a high school hoops sensation born and raised in Harlem. I embraced this narrative direction since this is the story Lee wanted to tell, but the dissonance of seeing my pasty white player interacting with his black twin sister ultimately made me go recreate a different character so the cutscenes wouldn’t be so jarring. 
 
NBA 2K16 is a tale of substance and style, loaded with a degree of personality not found elsewhere in the series. It proudly displays its Spike Lee-directed “Livin’ Da Dream” narrative, which adds more story, drama, and reasons to come back to MyCareer mode. But that character stretches far beyond the melodramatic cutscenes. Personal interviews, pre- and post-game shows, unique player mannerisms, and even teammate video-bombings give each matchup that big, true-to-life NBA feel. On the court, however, it can be a struggle to find your rhythm.