A Thundering Slam Dunk
by Matt Bertz
Continue to push the boundaries of sports games with ambitious innovations in gameplay and modes
From the realistic player models to the first-class broadcast presentation, this is the best-looking sports game ever made
The acting in MyCareer is dramatically improved, and newcomer Greg Anthony slides between commentators Kevin Harlan and Clark Kellogg without a hitch
The already stellar gameplay gets better with new dedicated passing buttons and more size-ups
With several modes worth playing, NBA 2K16 offers the most value you'll find in a sports game
Letting a championship slip out of your grasp can be a harrowing experience for a franchise. Some teams never get over the hump, fading back into the pack never to emerge as a contender again. Others use the disappointment as motivation to improve and prepare for a second run. Visual Concepts found itself in this position after server woes sullied the launch of the otherwise impressive NBA 2K15. Using the offseason to retool, the series has emerged with its best effort in years.
NBA 2K16 is the virtual equivalent of a player who can play all five positions on the court. The already strong gameplay receives a boost this year from a redesigned post game that lets you back down players with a press of the left trigger, a welcome return to days of old. Passing also received an overhaul, giving you three face buttons for lobs, bounce passes, and the traditional toss. Double tapping these buttons gives you quick access to alley-oops and flashy passes as well. Having these options at your fingertips is great for specific situations, but expect to still use the icon-based passing because directional passing can occasionally misread your intent and send a ball across the court instead of into the post.
You will need all the tools at your disposal to keep up with the impressive A.I. in NBA 2K16, which is the best I've seen in a sports game to date. Each team employs different strategies, making every game feel different. Teams run play sets to get their best players involved, attack quickly in transition, and react to your tactics on the fly. This dynamic gameplay translates across NBA 2K16's strong collection of game modes.
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.
Read the rest of the Review at Game Informer
Three of NBA's top super stars will be available on the cover of NBA 2K16: Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, Houston Rockets' James Harden, and New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis. While game covers will be distributed at random, each game box includes a foldable insert with all 3 individual cover athletes, ensuring the ability to insert the cover of your choice into the front of box.