2K Games has had a storied history with their sports franchises whether it was NFL 2K, MLB 2K or even the subject of this review NBA 2K. While many fans loved NFL 2K05 for being not only one of the best NFL games on the market but one of the cheapest debuting at $19.99, the following year the NFL introduced exclusive contracts and EA outbid them meaning while we would get other football games from 2K they would not carry the NFL license and fall into obscurity. Let’s take a critical look at NBA 2K17 and see if 2K games can continue to strike gold in the field of licensed sports games or will this be another example of why yearly releases are a bad idea?
Being a game based on a licensed sports franchise there isn’t really much to the setting however there is a career mode. The career mode being called MyCareer has you start as the best basketball player in high school declaring your college. In the way you handle your declaration you get the nickname Pres as its assumed you are trying to become the president of basketball. It’s a serviceable story with my major gripe being that none of the cut scenes can be skipped. If you happen to quit a scene by mistake you have to start over and listen to it again. While the story may be serviceable I found the acting be middling to sub par.
In addition to MyCareer mode you can also play with the current 2016-2017 NBA lineup, the MyGM and MyLeague modes make a welcome return as well as the ability to play as legacy teams like 1996 Chicago Bulls or the 1986 Celtics. The features and options here are plentiful for anyone that is a fan of the NBA.
The games controls function well and I found them easy to pick up. Not a veteran of sports games I was able to pick up the basics in no time. While the controls are easy to learn I see that there is definite skill involved if you want to master NBA 2K17. Being able to easily switch defensive or offensive strategies by using the d-pad and right stick were also easy to pick up. With little time I was switching coverage and transitioning from spacing the floor to getting in scoring position.
The graphics are probably the weakest part of the game. They are average, nothing to write home about and my machine was easily able to run the game on the highest settings while easily holding 60+ fps. The worst part were all the textures that failed to load in the foreground, middle ground and background textures would be fine but randomly faces in the foreground would fail to load. It was jarring and immersion breaking.
Music in this type of game can be difficult to judge, on the one hand they used a combination of rap and top 40s that you would expect to hear at a stadium. However its hard to rate how good it is because I find most of that music to be awful.
Now on the elephant in the room, microtransactions. They have added a virtual currency called VC, now you can earn VC from playing the game and taking on endorsements, you earn more VC as you play better and earn less as you do worse. Wins and your ranking affect how many coins you get. These coins are spent to upgrade the stats of your character or to allow you to unlock the animations of another famous basketball player to use on your custom character. Now because the coins are spent to upgrade your stats, they are how you become better, this system of being able buy upgrades with money means you can buy power. You can literally pay to make your character in career mode better.
Ultimately I find it hard to recommend this game to any but the most hardcore NBA or sports fans. While its a decent simulation and other than the missing texture I encountered few bugs I find the microtransactions in a full price game to be egregious. If you are interested you can pick up NBA 2K17 for $59.99 or your regional equivalent on Steam or any major retailer. The game is available for PC, Xbox One and PS4. I give the game my final verdict: Try it, while I found the game to be enjoyable I believe that its best for anyone skeptical to wait for a sale and pick it up at a reduced price.