NBA 2K17 Xbox One Review

NBA 2K17, in honest opinion, is the undisputed greatest sports simulation game.

By JoshHodson, Posted 18 Oct 2016

NBA 2K17 is the greatest sports simulation game of all time, in my sports simulation obsessed opinion at least. Every single year, basketball fans around the world rejoice for the release of the latest in the NBA 2K series, and this year, 2K Sports development team has managed to create a masterpiece unlike any other. The game has greatly enhanced graphics, commentary, fluidity and realism, also with major additions to the core foundations of what has enabled NBA 2K to challenge as the pinnacle of sports video games for many years.

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The main aspect which sets NBA 2K17 apart from all other sports games is the customisability and options available to gamers across all 5 different game modes and the companion app, ‘My NBA2K17’. This year, players can prove their worth on the court, in the gym and in the office, with five game modes including Play Now, MyCAREER, MyTEAM, MyGM and MyLEAGUE. The range of modes allows gamers who aren’t a fan of the constant grind forever present in MyCAREER to find their footing in another mode, and there’s a mode for every personality or interest. MyCAREER allows players to live out their dreams, progressing from being the go-to-guy on their favourite college team, to an NBA superstar who takes their team all the way to a championship.

The colleges available to help you begin your career are Georgia Tech, Louisville, UConn, Kansas, Michigan State, Arizona, Wake Forest, Oklahoma, Illinois and Georgetown, each of which are set up with a roster including a few players from the last college season and an automated set of players to fill the roster. The range of options available once you are drafted enhances massively, with the options of being completely dedicated to putting in extra work, blowing off practices for endorsement deals and pleasing the owner and other NBA stars by attending their events. Each of these choices come with their own perks such as attribute bonuses, forming stronger connections with teammates and growing your fan base. By finding the ultimate balance between these extremes, any player can find themselves in true stardom in no time.

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Gameplay within the MyCAREER mode is at an all-time high, with such new features as a tag-team playing style on court with Justice Young, an intense-d indicator, new shot timing features and a faster pace CPU defensive reaction time and IQ to remove the exploits of previous instalments. Depending on your performance during games, there are also ways to liven up the short breaks between quarters such as an interview with David Aldridge at quarter time and a post-game interview with Shaquille O’Neil or Kenny Smith if you receive man of the match. We will be here all day if we discuss every little positive about the most popular game mode so let’s leave it at this, from the moment you begin your MyCAREER journey, it is borderline impossible to ever stop or become bored. There are endless opportunities and challenges on your path to greatness which make this mode so consistently impressive.

MyTEAM is a fantasy card based mode which allows players to compete in the widest range of challenges and online games ever provided in a sports simulation. I must admit before I continue with this discussion that MyTeam has never been of too much interest to me (likely due to the connections issues every Australian will understand), however, don’t let that stop you from devoting countless hours to strengthening your team and progressing up the competitive ranks. As I stated earlier, there’s a mode for every personality and interest.

The award for most improved game mode of NBA 2K goes to… MyGM! After playing through a full season of MyGM, I have to say I am completely addicted, the depth of this mode along with the customisability and strategy involved is unmatched and it is hard to find any faults at all.

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The major additions include expansion teams (that the 2K community has been begging for since the dawn of time), team owner decided rule changes and traded pick options such as protection based on the value of the pick. There is no limit on imagination with regards to expansion teams as you are able to choose a city, team name, logo, colour scheme, arena design (essentially everything about the interior) and uniform configuration. I must add it is no surprise to see the most popular image in the 2K community is a picture of Harambe holding a basketball, with a bombardment of memes taking up the better half of the first 300 popular images.

An interesting addition is the rule changes at the start of every season, which allow the opportunity for the leagues’ GM’s and owners to decide on potential rule changes such as a longer shot clock, an extended draft lottery and 6 second time frame to advance the ball into your offensive half. The thought 2K Sports has put into the running of this mode and ways to customise the league deserves massive recognition, the game without a doubt positions players to believe without a doubt in their mind that they are an NBA GM. Being forced to manage player morale, staff morale, league decisions, team branding, team rosters and many more while playing or simulating all 82 games of the regular season puts this mode at the top of the list for me this year.

The last game mode of NBA 2K17 is MyLEAGUE, a mode which can simply be described as a poor man’s MyGM with a few little extra opportunities to control the league in any way you could possibly imagine. With the same additions as MyGM, there a few adjustments to the functioning of the league which can either make the game a whole lot easier, or a million times harder.

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The option to disallow teams to protect players for the expansion draft essentially paves the way for the ultimate super team built up of the NBA’s greatest players. By experimenting in this mode, I was able to create the easiest possible experience running an NBA team. The ability to increase player progression, customise player stats and information and freely trade with other teams allows players the ultimate control in the difficulty of their game mode.

With the game modes out of the way, it’s time to discuss gameplay. This is the aspect of NBA 2K which consistently improves in ways no one ever thought was possible. New animations for defensive interactions, an entirely new shot timing metre, an increased CPU defensive reactiveness and automated game sliders to match the chosen gameplay difficulty are new advancements which set the game even further apart from any other basketball simulation.

From my very first gameplay experience, the flow of the offense felt smoother, CPU’s felt smarter, shooting animations flowed better and dunk defence was much less jagged and predictable than ever before. As you learn the ins and outs of gameplay, you find yourself second guessing your offensive decisions and spending a lot more time planning out your offensive and defensive plays and options.

It’s finally time, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the “constructive criticism” so to speak, this is the moment where a writer can sound either extremely contradictory or like a well-educated, fair evaluator. It’s very common for writers to feel as if they could have developed the game better than the actual developers during the writing of criticisms, however, there’s clearly a reason we are writers and not developers. As with any game ever created, there are some obvious exploits which gamers either stumble across or have to log an extreme number of hours to understand completely. NBA 2K17 is no exception to this rule, with some very blatant and underlying exploits to gameplay and game design.

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After just a few games, I was able to discover the ease of on-ball steals, often a cause of mass frustration from gamers who are instantly called for reach-in fouls the moment of attempting the steal. By standing a step away from the ball-handler without any body contact, the defender need only tap the steal button to force the ball to poke loose and lead to a fast break opportunity. Sure, this can be easily avoided in online gameplay with quick ball movement, but against a CPU, this exploit can cause every game to be a blow-out in dramatic fashion.

This one has always been a hot topic of discussion within the 2K community, is the Virtual Currency (VC) costs of MyCAREER attribute upgrades too high? The cold hard truth is, to reach the illustrious 99 overall, players are expected to spend upwards of 350 000 VC on their character. As you receive an average earning of approximately 3 000 VC per game in MyCAREER depending on your performance and game difficulty multiplier, it’s easy to understand why many players get frustrated with the mode and voice their frustrations to the NBA 2K developers every single year.

For the first time in NBA 2K history, 2K Sports decided to introduce the requirement of timing your layups using the shot timing metre. This has taken some getting used to for most gamers as they have found that often when driving to the basket in an attempt to dunk or layup, they often accidentally pump fake as a result of not holding the shoot button for long enough or hold the shoot button for too long and result in an off-balanced shot that is easy to block. As a way of countering this difficulty, at least until you are familiar with the layup timing, I suggest using the pro stick (right analogue stick) in a particular direction you want to release the ball to ensure, in case of accidental poorly timed shots, the ball is in a good position to go in regardless.

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NBA 2K17, in my honest opinion, is the undisputed greatest sports simulation game. The slight gameplay kinks and exploits are part of the greatness in the sense that they allow for interesting and unpredictable gameplay. The customisability, gameplay fluidity, graphics and realism all combine to create this sensational game which allows basketball fans to step into the world of NBA players, General Managers and coaches and create the league and basketball they love and cherish. The only question left to ask is, what will the developers do to further improve the game as time draws on? 

Josh Hodson, NoobFeed

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General Information

NBA 2K17

97/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher(s): 2K Sports
Developer(s): Visual Concepts
Genres: Sports
Themes: Competition
Release Date: 2016-09-20

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