The question on most fans minds coming into NBA 2K16
The most notable immediate difference in NBA 2K16 is the graphics which once again have been updated to fit next generation systems. We are starting our long and arduous ascent out of the uncanny valley now, and that’s pretty cool. Bodies move very realistically, more so than they ever have before. Faces are still a little creepy, but they do have a wider range of emotions than they did in the past. Once again you get to see sweat beading up on players’ skin and clothes wrinkle as players launch for dunks. It’s impressive and noticeable, but it’s still aesthetic. There’s no question that NBA 2K has become the gold standard when it comes to basketball simulators, raising the bar year-after-year with great modes such as ‘My Career’ and ‘My GM’ that allows fans of not only the sport but also the league experience to fashion their own careers. Where this franchise has made its money, though, is on the hardwood with its almost flawless mechanics. The question on most fans’ minds coming into NBA 2K16, however, is how developer Visual Concepts can possibly improve on last year’s excellent entry? Well, much like the San Antonio Spurs, the association’s most recent champions, you will not be wowed by any of the flashy additions to this installment - but it’s the fantastic fundamentals that once again score a slam dunk for this consistent series.
NBA 2K16 MyCareer is much deeper this year, but it still has room for improvement. The new upgrade system, which has you upgrade sets of skills rather than tweaking individual skill ratings, is blind to the type of player you want to become. This is especially irksome early in the progression, when you see points get allocated to post defense and blocks when you're a point guard who would be better served with skills used during defending the perimeter. I also wish you had more control over your character's reactions. Even when you choose the humble option, the voice actor delivers his lines with an off-putting tone. The season-long performance tracking is also broken; despite leading all rookies in points per game and assists by a wide margin, my player was apparently not considered for the rookie of the year award or all-rookie teams. The most noticeable shortcoming of all is the long load times in between games, cutscenes, and crossing over to MyPark.
The biggest issue with the NBA 2K16 gameplay continues to be some sticking defensively. A lot of players are slow to move properly in the right direction when needed. While this is a problem in real life with some NBA players, it's too often an issue for guys guarding the perimeter. You'll have to be an expert at rotating over with your shot blocker in order to make up for cement feet against guards and wings. The movement off the ball is instinctive so if you start to cheat over to double team, your man will cut backdoor and get an easy bucket. Some of the dribbling can also be difficult to execute when it comes to less than stellar ball handlers. The disparity between the elite and the average when it comes to dribble can too often lead you to crossing over into a defender's leg and the ball rolling away from you.
Included under the MyCareer mode is MyPark. Here you can take your player, the same one that is playing in the NBA, and step out of the arena and onto the hard-top of a local basketball park. You’ll pledge your loyalty to one of three affiliations: The Old Town Flyers, the Sunset Beach Ballers or the Rivet City Rough Riders. Each has its own eight-court home park and unique style of basketball, emphasized by slight boosts to various aspects of your game. Game boosts purchased while in MyCareer will be consumed when playing in MyPark so be sure to keep that in mind. If you’d rather not play street ball, head over to the Jordan Rec Center, which features four full-sized courts and five-minute quarters of 5v5, NBA rules basketball.
I also had multiple instances of mid-game crashes, and while many games have them from time to time, they’re just killers when you are in the middle of a MyCAREER game. Your progress doesn’t get saved until the end of each game, so if things go black in, say, the middle of the third quarter, sorry - you’ve got to relaunch the app and play the game over from the beginning.