Playstation 3, 4
Xbox One, Xbox 360
September 20, 2016.
PS4/Xbox One - ₹3499/-
PS3/Xbox 360 - ₹2499/-
PC - ₹2499/-
“No Kobe. No Problem.”
If NBA 2K16 was focused on defensive plays and momentum favoured breakthrough moments, then NBA 2K17 is just the opposite. As a seasoned NBA 2K player, I felt the fast, aggressive basketball moments that defined 2K15 return, highly polished and superbly conceptualized. This NBA isn’t just a roster refresh and a Spike Lee project; in fact it has more basketball than its predecessors. Jump right in to the review as we take you to the hoop.
A New Season
The first thing you’ll see different in NBA 2K17 is its focus on a sleek menu screen, with grids and white backgrounds creating a less cluttered user experience. With Pacers star Paul George taking over the load screen with a Spalding ball generating shiny lines according to the loading percentage; this is one of the neatly designed game menus ever, sorry FIFA 17. The only thing jarring in this flawless UI is NBA’s preference to have as much detail as possible, in boxes of the size of ants. There isn’t any 2KTV filler content taking over your main menu screen, just a simple call to action to begin the game, thank you 2K.
My immediate whim was to play a game from the Play Now screen and I was impressed by the amount of simplicity in the 2K17 UX. As three important grids floated on the next screen – Exhibition Match, 2KU and Blacktop. One of the most underrated modes in the game, Blacktop got a serious makeover this time around. The team at 2K added a welcome interface and a gallery of spectators to this street side format. Even the My GM mode received a brand new screen with its own variety of season plays, that include the regular GM season, the My League seasons that comprise of both the offline and online format, the Start Today mode that takes you to a team you wish to manage with stats/standing updated real time and a complete rollercoaster mode that makes you glide your team through the Playoffs.
My Career Mode
The Pro Mode, also called MC, now puts you in the shoes of the Pres, an uprising player who represents the United States national team in his pre rookie season itself. From there, you need to manage his progression and his social circle, helping him conquer the highest accolades of the game. This time around, your character is joined by Justin Young, a pro who is trying to prove his critics wrong as well. Portrayed brilliantly by Michael B. Jordan, Young forms the backbone of your initial years into the league, witnessing the giant rivalries spiraling in front of you. As a rookie, you get to choose which position to play for in the higher league and with what kind of character, be it a Sharpshooting Small Forward or a Role Playing Point Guard. Unlike other games, the mini characteristics actually fuel how you play the game, whether you drive through relentlessly like Westbrook or stay tall and drop threes like Kevin Love. While the technical prowess of cracking the league remains one of the forte of NBA 2K17, and benchmarks the way a ‘Be a Pro’ mode should be made in sport games, some of the old enemies do return. As you grind your way to become a better baller, your days get divided into several training sessions (some of them are compulsory) and pretty much any endorsement that is thrown your way. You do not have an agent this time, making your hectic game-day schedule even more intense with all those timed updates. Besides the compulsory pay per game coins system, 2K17 lays down exactly how you earn every penny, as divided between points scored, rebounds, steals, assists and a little extra when you’re the MVP.
In a way, 2K undid all the great moves of 2K17 MC by combining everything under the Purchase screen, meaning now even when you need to skill up you’ll have to click twice to go to the attribute screen. And another 2 clicks to buy yourself an attribute. In the same way, while the MC Garage serves as a great place to hangout with friends and train one’s self, there isn’t much of a variation to choose from when you need to hit the training, with a couple of jump shot, three pointer and 1 on 1 challenges to choose from. The social interaction mini game wherein you interact with your buddies and fans is an additional piece of content, even though there aren’t any consequential options to choose from.
My GM Mode
One of the most updated features on the latest edition of this long running NBA game is its focus on realism, whether it is off the court or on the court. The tipping point of these changes is the GM Mode. Play your usual GM Mode that starts after the Drafting and Free Agency activities. Or, change history by starting at the very beginning of the season, picking up potential rookies and free agents like KD, Lebron James, DeMar Rozan and Kent Bazemore for your team. I witnessed the Pelicans pick up Rozan while James rejected my division strong Rockets to opt for Pacers. Being an extremely pacey game by nature, NBA 2K17 makes you think twice before you send in the same players week in week out. That’s why the reason for a stronger bench is so vital for a better GM career. There are a lot of free agency players that are available from the start that can add versatility and character to that lineup, and it is recommended that you snap up the likes of Jamal Crawford and Norris Cole before the others can get to them.
A lot has to be appreciated about 2K’s decision to tweak the gameplay a bit. Although the initial speed of the game (in comparison to the physical 2K16) created havoc in my brain, I got used to the speed eventually and made the best of it. The Point Guards and Shooting Guards are a nightmare to mark in 2K17, especially with that extra speed. If you control one, rest assured you will try to use it to your benefit as well, with extra flashy passes and roll passes connecting more than they ever used to. With tall guys like Halford and Millsap it is much easier to guard the paint. The AI of the opponent has been tweaked a lot, so that you don’t get freebies from the high percentage shot area, as hustling around the paint becomes a part and parcel. Fake shots and fake passes have gotten the best of my gameplay, as I often look out for defensive loopholes before going for a shot. Not to forget, the Alley Oops are a cream of the crop in 2K17, and I kind of miss the easy lay up dunks from 2K15.
Each player has more than two or three unique moves this time around, as I constantly saw Kwahi Leonard hit accurate jump shots with different move sets and sequences. The player ratings and physicality has been changed a lot since 2K17, and a lot of the big guns, like Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson get defensively owned by lesser known players such as Jimmy Butler and Jahlil Okafor. The key to such defense is a pattern of in-game changes made by the 2K team. Firstly, the right analogue flick guarding is even more accurate when guarded right. Coupled with a high percentage of steal chances being introduced to the gameplay, that breaks the game at vital junctures. Even the layup button has been greatly rehashed, making it simpler to lay up the shot, provided you’ve gotten the best of the on-paint defense. The shooting system has also been changed since the last time, as the emphasis this time around is to fully fill up the half circle before you release a shot. The 2K16 version of a halfway mark kind of left it open for discussion as to why a perfect shot wouldn’t go in otherwise.
NBA 2K17 boasts of one of the finest in-game presentations ever, with more announcers, with the likes of Chris Webber and Dorris Burke being added to the existing crew of Steve Harlan and Gregg Anthony. Before every match goes to the tip off, there is a flashy laser show on the court of the home team that shows snippets from the upcoming clash and pumps up the definitive fanboys. The quarterly highlights reel is also rehashed, thankfully with better camera views and revised commentary to finish off what was an excellent move in 2K16. The halftime show also cleans up the 2K16 mess and adds one of the finest assets from 2K15 – the Halftime Players in Focus, making it exceptionally evident whom to mark in the remainder of the game.
The legendary trio of Shaq, Ernie Johnson and Kenny ‘The Jet’ Smith also gets a couple of new dialogues, as the bragging reaches a new level in video games gimmicks. However, I am still not convinced with the pale background that complements their studio background, yes I can be that picky about my favourite sports game. There are tons of in-game stats to excite the rivalry between teams and individuals, and of course there are tons of action heavy moments like the Kia Slam Cam and the Buzzer Beater. The crowd graphics looks much more realistic in 2K17, as two giants slowly enter the final moments of an iconic game, wait till you hear the cheer as James Harden drops a three to take the team lead to four.
Visually, 2K17 feels brighter and shinier as compared to its predecessor. However, there isn’t a massive upheaval, apart from a few courts and players – especially Paul George and JJ Reddick. I wanted to see a much more realistic Draymond Green (thinner than the 2K self) and a less skinny Kevin Durant. I guess I will have to wait it out till 2K18 for that.
The soundtrack of 2K17, which was apparently curated by famous American band Imagine Dragons, is perhaps the weakest link in the game. There isn’t a Blitzkrieg Bop or an L.A. Love to get my blood gushing before the game. There are a few standouts, like G Eazy’s Me Myself and I and The 1975’s The Sound, but that’s about it. And there’s that obnoxious song returning from Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands called Friction.
If you are a fan of the sport, this should be about the right time to experience its video game manifestation. If you are an NBA 2K fan, then there shouldn’t be anything stopping you from picking up this beast of a game. And while you grind to replace MJ from the Hall of Fame in My Career or grow your own dynasty by being the GM of the most successful NBA team, make sure to keep your game at an all time high. Because the AI is smarter, and the steals and blocks are more frequent, especially around the most chaotic corners of the court.
+ Balanced/Action packed Gameplay
+ Detailed Presentation
+ MyGM Mode
+ Stable Online Gameplay
+ Focus on modes like Blacktop
- Micromanagement in MyCareer
- Text Overload
- Unreal phsyique of some known players