The NBA 2K series has always been the most eye-catching of sport game franchises because of its excellent presentation and attention to detail, not to mention its stunningly realised visuals. NBA 2K17 is no different, and ups the ante to make quite possibly one of the best sporting experiences on PlayStation. Sure, it doesn't have any huge additions or new features, but a few tweaks here and there alongside some excellent fundamentals can go a long way, as evidenced by this year's edition.
In play, 2K17 really isn't that much different to previous instalments, which is, of course, not a bad thing at all. Dribbling feels fluid and full of control, shooting and lay-ups are as much about skill as they are luck, and defending and rebounding feels fair and balanced. The animations for each player look amazingly life-like, and while models can occasionally have the odd hiccup, everything feels very real.
The presentation, as always, is excellently done. Graphics and stats appear seamlessly during the game without being intrusive, the HUD is minimalistic yet noticeable, and the commentary never seems to get old. The fact that you can even watch a pre-game talk show while your match is loading is a really nice touch, as is the constant cutting-back to on-court pundits during breaks in play.
Of course, if you've never seen basketball before and this all sounds like nonsense (interesting that you clicked on this review, by the way), then 2KU is a great way to get into the sport. Starring the Team USA's very own Coach Mike Krzyzewski - no, not who you're thinking of - 2KU teaches you the basics as you play the game, so you can easily put your newfound skills into practice.
Still, everyone knows that the flagship mode of the 2K series is MyCareer, in which you take your own character from high school novice to one of the NBA's best. A nice touch is the college segment of the mode, in which your player chooses which university he goes to and proceeds to play a few games for the team until he gets drafted into the NBA. There's a party atmosphere to it, and while the story is corny and a little flat, the wealth of cutscenes (and smaller loading times) is welcome.
That being said, this year MyCareer is as much off of the court as it is on it. Your house acts as a HUD world for the mode, in which you can play on your personal court, engage in text conversations with friends (including one played by the excellent Michael B. Jordan) coaches, and your mum, and decide your schedule for the day. As well as partaking in games and mandatory training sessions, you can also attend sponsor events, go out with fellow players, and hit the practice court in order to attain different stat boosts. It's all optional, so you can play what you like, but all of this feels more like an actual story than any previous NBA game.
MyPark also ties into into MyCareer, allowing you to take your virtual player online and play 3-on-3 games with other players. Once again, it's an old mode, and nothing's really changed, but it's still an excellent feature nonetheless.
MyTeam - 2K's counterpart to the likes of FIFA Ultimate Team - is also very fun, allowing you to build your own dream team of players and challenge other players online or complete single-player scenarios in order to earn VC and improve your group. There are a wealth of sub-modes in MyTeam, including a mode in which you can draft a temporary team of legends and try and win as many times as possible in order to get rewards.
This year, however, it seems that MyGM and MyLeague are the modes with the most new additions; the former allows you to control one team, while the latter allows you to take over as many as you want. One of the biggest new additions is that you can now expand your league to 36, adding EuroLeague teams, classic teams, or teams that you've made yourself. It's a great new feature that makes one of the most personal modes on the game even more customisable.
You can also choose to start during the offseason, allowing you to begin the Draft all over again and continue to trade players before the season starts. You can also choose to start your season on the day that you're playing - let's say that your favourite team is at the bottom of their conference in real life and you want to take them back to the top - as well as only playing the Play-Offs, arguably the most exciting time of the NBA season.
MyGM has always been hugely detailed, allowing you to change everything from staff salaries to food prices, as well as trying to fulfil tasks that the owner sets for you at the start of the season. If you want a realistic basketball managing experience, there aren't many modes better than this, and addition of the Rotation Timeline allows you to choose the timings of when your players come on and off during matches.
The NBA 2K series has always been a hard one to improve upon since the revolutionary 2K14, but 2K17 still manages to better its predecessors, vastly improving the MyGM and MyLeague modes while refusing to tamper with a winning formula. MyCareer is once again a very enjoyable story, and general gameplay is as strong as ever. Simply put, NBA 2K17 is a trailblazer.