App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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Over the past few seasons, 2K Sports have established themselves as a torchbearer for the NBA on virtually every platform known to man. Granted, the dominance was due in part to EA Sports abstaining from releasing a new basketball title for four years, but who’s counting? While the console versions of 2K’s basketball sim have thrived over this span, the iOS installments have proven to be less than stellar. Will NBA 2K14 finally break the series’ losing skid on mobile, or is this just another offence in a long line of hardwood heartbreak?
Despite having a full year to regroup and improve on last season’s letdown, NBA 2K14 appears to be little more than a glorified re-skin. At a glance, the presentation and in-game animations parallel an early PlayStation 2 era title, which is to say that it is passable, at best. Upon closer examination, the actual simulation aspects of the game grow more suspect with every play. Simple concepts that are fundamentals of the sport like boxing out, then going to the glass for rebounds apparently defy the logic of most AI controlled teammates. And this is far from the only building block of the sport left riding the pine.
All of the control peculiarities, odd camera positions and general technical malfunctions of the prior installment are back again, lending further credence to re-skinning allegations. Further complicating matters, in an era where developers routinely include a floating D-pad, there is no excuse for it not to be available. The deep corner position of the joypad makes it extremely difficult to navigate players precisely while they are running, without inadvertently sliding a finger off of the screen and losing all control.
The saving grace of this outing is the “LeBron: Path to Greatness” mode. It actually mirrors many aspects of the NBA 2K13’s “Greatest Games” feature, only this time around the scenarios are fictitious, and as the name might imply, all star LeBron James. Players take control of the league’s golden boy, as he singlehandedly wills his team to success. Essentially this fulfills the superhero dreams of every aspiring schoolyard hoopster. In the immortal words of Mel Brooks, “It’s good to be the king.”
A single victory notwithstanding, what proved most troubling were the litany of presentation glitches littered throughout. For example, during one game players’ names began appearing onscreen as, “////,” and in-game graphics were being chopped in half or just not being populated with statistics at all. On another occasion, the public address announcer called out a random three pointer proclamation, during a free throw. There was even a hyperactive camera that liked to zoom in on the action around the rim, regardless of whether the controlled player was in the shot, rendering it impossible to stay involved with the play. These sorts of issues point to a release that was not necessarily intended for public consumption.
For the third consecutive season 2K Sports has punished iOS gamers with a half-baked basketball experience. NBA 2K14 underwhelms in nearly every way possible, not to mention contains countless bugs in desperate need of squashing. It is impossible to even entertain the idea of recommending this title until it has a patch or two under its belt. Even then, it will inevitably be a shadow of its console counterparts.
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