by Eddie Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan
I will get into the grand experience that was the NBA 2K14 next-gen media presentation that I was able to attend Wednesday afternoon at the Golden Gate Bar and Grill Tap Room momentarily. But I’d be remiss if I did not lead in with what caught my attention the most at the end of the exquisite video presentation led by the 2K Sports leadership.
Yes, the potential showstopper was The Park. A new facet of the jam-packed NBA 2K14 next-gen game that is not just a hyped up graphics version of the currently released game that’s probably in your household currently for your PS3 or XBox, a giddy 2K Sports exec was pleasantly pleased to give the people a taste of what essentially will be the basketball game’s answer to Grand Theft Auto Online.
The video screen displays a large park with at least 10 different basketball courts. Pickup basketball is being played everywhere. Your created player “potentially” now has a chance to be the next Billy Hoyle or Tom Sheppard and own the court as you see fit. You want to hustle and get your proverbial weight (virtual coin) up? Feel free. You want to work on your skills? Feel free. You want to show up at the court like Jesus Shuttlesworth did with your boys and own the court for hours? Feel free.
The possibilities are endless and speculation of what The Park will ultimately be is still up in the air, but with the ever-present push to evolve online play apparent, 2K Sports is simply letting the world know to stay tuned.
It’s a weird feeling being around the senior leaders of 2K Sports. On one hand, it’s obvious that these guys haven’t slept much and probably haven’t taken a day off in months. On the other hand, you can tell these guys are bursting at the seams to let the world know how great this new iteration of NBA 2K14 will play out on the next-generation consoles. Seriously, there was 20 minutes devoted to the detail spent on things like the temperature of the lights in the arena, to figuring out how to make a backboard slightly smudged from when players have smacked boards, to the rotation of the ball in a player’s hands while dribbling.
All of these intricate details are made possible because of 2K’s creation of the Eco-Motion engine. The new engine will allow simple things like footwork to feel more true, so that when you’re trying to guard someone you don’t feel like you’re taking false steps and constantly out of position. The dribbling system is refined, where before the ball felt like it was on a yo-yo, now the bounce feels more true. The shooting system previously was extremely reliant to using motion capture to get a player’s movements right, but now with Eco-Motion, the system can take into account if a player is wide open versus having a defender rushing at them. In the demonstration, Kevin Durant was shown to do his typical follow-through on his three-point shot, but when a defender drew near, KD’s legs would splay open to try and draw a foul. A slight difference, but a noticeable one.
Here are a couple of additional takeaways of note from Wednesday’s event.
MyCareer Mode will allow you to be friends with Maverick Carter, sort of: One of the biggest consumers of time in NBA 2K14 is the MyCareer mode. During the demonstration, a created player named “Chris Cross” was working on his moves on the court, when a short and skinny jeans-wearing brother who is your “lifelong friend since sixth grade,” will rush up to you saying that you got invited to tryout for the NBA. Now look, I’ve never met Maverick Carter before, but this dude looked just like Maverick Carter. From the jeans tucked into his boots to the mannerisms of the character, it isn’t far off from what I envision Maverick Carter to be. From your friend/agent, to your “rival” in the game to dealing with the daily grind of being an NBA player, prepare to spend countless hours in this mode.
I played NBA 2K14 on the PS4 and it was glorious: From Stephen Curry’s insane shooting ability to LeBron James just being utterly dominant on the game, everything feels right. The controls felt pure, the visuals of the game are hard to not be distracted by, and Udonis Haslem’s facial hair is especially egregious on PS4.
NBA 2K14 will remember everything you say and use it against you: 2K Sports senior producer Erick Boenisch made light of a particular situation he experienced while testing the franchise mode and their new conversation engine. In it, he was the general manager of the Sacramento Kings and told DeMarcus Cousins that he had a long-term plan of building a winner in California’s capital. But with the team struggling in Year 2 of his franchise, Boogie apparently drew back from a conversation last year to say that he wasn’t happy, and thusly wanted to be traded immediately. To think, I play the video game to escape real life, and now the game is also going to hold me accountable for my actions? Good grief.
Rasheed Wallace’s wife is about that life: 2K Sports Senior producer Rob Jones reflected on a personal story involving Rasheed Wallace coming in to do motion capture for the NBA 2K3 video game. Here’s his story:
“We had Rasheed Wallace come in to do our motion capture for our game. So he comes in and says, ‘OK, I’ll do it. But I don’t want any press. I want to come in, do my moves, talk to you guys about the game, and then leave.’
“So he comes in and plays the game for a couple of hours, and then he heads to the court. So, we’re trying to do things with props because we don’t want him to get hurt, but he’s just going through the motions.
“His wife is there and she yells out at Sheed, ‘MAN YOU AIN’T GOING HARD!’ So, we didn’t just want to come out and say that, but again, we didn’t want him to get hurt. ‘YOU AIN’T GOING HARD.'”
One of Rasheed’s cousins would regularly travel with him, and he matched up size-wise pretty well with Rasheed. So they started playing one-on-one, and then the real Rasheed Wallace came out. Not the guy earlier just doing moves, but the real Rasheed Wallace was officially here. A sweat was broken. Cussing ensued. A post-move clinic was given. Rasheed’s wife nodded her head in approval and all was well in the Wallace and 2K houses, respectively.
NBA 2K14 on the next-gen platform is destined to make folks late to work, derail loving relationships and have beards unkempt for weeks at a time. This is all perfectly acceptable though, as when the PS4 system is finally in my possession, the first game I’ll be reaching for will probably be the game that made Rasheed Wallace’s wife yell at Sheed so the post-move game would be perfected.