NBA 2K14 will be released on October 1 for XBox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, with plenty of upgrades, several brand-new features and visual enhancements that are likely to make the game the best of its kind to date.
Considerable hype will rightfully surround the game with "next gen" gaming consoles in PS4, due out on Nov. 15, and XBox One dropping soon, but this latest installment from 2K Sports is still worth the purchase before the fresh systems hit stores.
Thanks to incredible facets added to the dimension of roster updates, the evolution of on-court strategy and expansion of the game's appeal to the international market, NBA 2K14 has all the elements to be truly special.
Let's take a closer look at some of the most unique features that will define the critical and gamer response to the forthcoming product.
Note: Information about new features is courtesy of an Aug. 14 note on NBA 2K's official Facebook page.
Dynamic Living Rosters (Powered by Stats Inc.)
For those who are into gameplay reflecting current developments, this could be one of the neatest features ever in NBA video games.
Apparently gone are the days of tediously awaiting periodic roster updates to reflect personnel on a squad. This is a day-to-day operation.
Not only are players' injuries or changing of teams tracked with this feature, but their form on the court in real life is encompassed as well.
So say Miami Heat superstar LeBron James is on a bit of a cold streak and hasn't played well in two consecutive games, but his teammate Dwyane Wade has been lighting it up. That reality could manifest itself in your virtual game, and Wade might be the clear-cut best player on the court.
The ramifications of this feature are immense. While the constantly updated rosters and even individual streaks make the game unprecedentedly realistic, it could prevent fans of lesser franchises from acting out their dreams of hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Many play video games to escape, but the inability to win with one's favorite team if they aren't faring as well in the impending NBA season may lead to increased frustration.
Regardless, it will be fascinating to see how this feature plays out and what type of feedback it receives from users.
Playbook and Play System Enhancements
Especially when watching pro basketball in person, it's easy to be amazed by the no-look passes, the raw, explosive athleticism and the stamina required for these athletes to play at the highest level.
What can be overlooked and less appreciated are the schematics, which is something NBA 2K14 creators have put a premium on recently.
That trend continues with an upgrade and added depth to the playbooks. Additional half-court sets and better spacing logic make the game better on a technical and programming level, but perhaps the coolest part is that there are team-specific plays.
Fan understanding of the game should increase exponentially if users take the time to understand the plays they are calling. Realism in almost all cases makes video games more fun, but in this case, it makes it more educational.
While the intricate complexities and actual athletic ability to execute these plays can only still be appreciated from the exterior in real life, it should go a long way in enhancing outsiders' knowledge of the game.
The word "enhancements" in boldface implies that this feature simply builds on a strength the game already possesses, but it is arguably the most important element to further boost its legitimacy. That's thanks to the team-specific area that the new game incorporates.
The opportunity for the Euroleague and some of its stars to get exposure through the vast medium of video games had been previously unheard of.
It's also a neat chance for Americans to get acquainted with—and have added respect for—some of the elite overseas squads.
Running those teams' styles of offense and defense could even substantially influence fans' perception of the sport—and perhaps change their mindsets regarding how their favorite NBA franchises operate on the court.
The fact that uniforms and players from the teams are accurate makes the foreign teams more accessible to those unfamiliar with them as well.
Standout players such as Manu Ginobili, Marc and Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio and others have used the Euroleague as a transitional stop before making the NBA leap.
Allowing further access for fans of the video game to that arena of basketball should only raise awareness of the high level of play in international basketball. Additionally, it could increase the Euroleague's overall brand—and put its most intriguing players more directly on NBA radar.