Review: NBA 2K16

2K is a respected developer, publisher and distributor who made a lot of top games like Borderlands, Civilization, The Darkness, … But they’re also known for their fantastic sport series such as WWE 2K and NBA 2K. This time they had the difficult task to improve their last NBA 2K15 and from what I’ve seen and played, they’ve created the best basketball game yet on the market.

NBA 2K has a long history of basketball games… Each NBA 2K game that they’ve developed had its share of small issues and flaws, but the team still succeeds in bringing the next NBA 2K game to a higher level of gameplay realism. The game shows a lot of hours spent in the developing chamber as game physics and attack/ defense gameplay mechanics seemed to be slightly improved. Not only have the most features been improved, the developers also added a couple of other features to the game.

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For example, the basketball game implements a new kind of storyline created by the known director Spike Lee. This time, “MyCareer” in NBA 2K16 offers no more room for rivals such as Jackson Ellis or legendary coaching by Doc Rivers. You take on the role as Spike Lee, a boy from the ghetto who tries to “Live the dream” and become one of the best NBA basketball players. You start from the hood and eventually end up playing the biggest game of your life. In the beginning of your career, you create a bond between you and your 2 friends: Cee-Cee and Vic. They both stand by you through all of your good and bad moments at the sideline of the basketball court. They both follow you to greatness but unfortunately, success doesn’t come without struggle. Just like real life, no matter how hard you try to let everything fall into place just to follow your dreams, there will always be situations in your life you can’t control. This cold- hearted truth is also present in this 5 hour long “joint” of Spark Lee.

This storyline is definitely something special. Spark Lee’s movies have always been influenced by Spark Lee’s perspective of racism, criminality and the influence of media on people. His movies haven’t always been positively accepted by the people since his movies are very negative. Some people like Spike Lee’s perspective on this “MyCareer” aspect of NBA 2K16 but you also have others who don’t agree with his vision. They have the feeling that Spike Lee’s thoughts on becoming a famous NBA is all about “being born in the hood”. He gives you a feeling that only boys from the hood can become pro NBA basketball players and of course, not everyone takes this vision and eats it. In other words, the story is for you to “take it or leave it”…


2K did it again!


The storyline is of course only one aspect of “MyCareer”. There are also more positive things to mention like the A.I. for example. The A.I. in this game is definitely a plus. It’s really hard for a newbie to speculate what your A.I. opponent will do, pass the ball or make an attempt to shoot a threepointer. Even, friends who are used to the game, have trouble in speculating what the plan of the opponent is. This makes matches so much more interesting and difficult for veteran players. This high level of difficulty is also good for motivating newbies to be at their best and to concentrate during each match. The difficulty in “MyCareer” becomes harder when you progress in the storyline.


In the beginning, I’ve had difficulties to motivate myself to play the game because there’s no good learning curve. You get to know the different buttons like passing, shooting, blocking,… but you don’t know the real trick-shots or legendary defense moves. The tutorial in the game could have been a lot better. There’s also not a lot of information about every aspect in the game. The developers already assume you’re good at this game and you don’t need the “extra” information. Unfortunately, me as a Belgian gamer, I need this information to get a heads-up of all the things that you can possibly do in a basketball match since it’s not that popular in Belgium. We’re more a soccer country.

“MyCareer” has improved by adding more “things to do”. The storyline isn’t always about playing basketball, sometimes you’ll have the time to do something else with your character. You’re able to train your character in order for them to become better than ever, you can earn in-game currency (VC) to customize your player’s appearance, upgrade attributes or even buy players for MyTeam. You can earn VC by watching NBA 2kTV and answering some questions, you can download the app and play mini-games to earn VC and eventually you can play matches during your day-offs in MyCareer. You play due to your “contract” and your salary is payed out in VC. Your salary will become better when your game progresses. You’ll get better contracts and this means a better currency. You can build op connections with old NBA- players and your rival Jackson Ellis. In other words, you feel like a real NBA player.

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PRO-AM is a new mode added to NBA 2K16 where you manage a crew of 5 basketball players and you compete online against other crews. You can customize your shirts, stadion and crew name. It’s actually the MyCourt feature in MyCareer mode where you play an offline match with your friends.

MYGM is another chapter of the game which allows you to create your own team and control your players, staff members, team’s finances,… and every other aspect that comes with “managing your team”. You begin by choosing a team, customize your player’s roster, get meet & greets and make tough decisions, look at your allocate funds, …   and so on. In other words everything a manager would do. Beside the administration, you also have the option to customize the coach’ game plan, manage your team’s training, go out and start scouting for other players, … A lot of stuff to go through and it’s quite overwhelming but then again it’s very nice to see another aspect of basketball. Managing your team is a lot of time consuming.

A couple new things that have been added to this section is the 3 team trades to switch team members to another team. It gives you the opportunity to make up new game plan strategies but of course not every trade is possible. Game managers will give you a lot of feedback on why they won’t accept the trade. Teams can play in other cities to compete with other teams. Which adds a nice touch to your gameplay. You’ll also get a certain budget to cover for facilities close to the stadion like restaurants, parking spots, … etc. It’s a very tough task to motivate all of the team owners to like your proposition before you can move your team to another city.

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Another feature of the game is “MyLeague”. “MyLeague” gives you the opportunity to create your own league online. Friends choose a couple of teams to start off an online NBA season. This features is very fun to play with all of your friends but nothing new has been added.

The last feature I want to talk about is MyTeam. This feature is all about buying game packs which contains a variety of equipment, attribute, player cards and with these cards you try to form your ultimate basketball team and play tournaments. It looks a lot like the FIFA 16’s Ultimate Team feature but in a basketball setting. There’s this Gauntlet Mode where you play 10 games with 3 persons: one basketball player of your choice but the other 2 basketball players will be chosen automatically.

Let’s talk a bit about graphics… the game looks amazing. The developers used body scans to create a digital representative of the original basketball player. These body scans makes every body of a basketball player unique. Thanks to all of this scanning, the sweat drops of basketball players, the highlighted differences between players gives the game a very realistic look. The audio is also very good. There are three commentators who give a good analysis of every basketball match, it makes the game a bit more immersive.


NBA 2K16 is the best basketball game out on the market. You’ve got so many different features within the game that will give you a lot of hours of gameplay. There’s something for everyone. Too bad the game has a steep learning curve, this will scare off a lot of new players. There’s a good variety in the gameplay mechanics but this can be overwhelming if you want to compete against the well-designed A.I. or other online players.