NBA 2K14 is a mobile port of probably the best NBA basketball game on consoles. But unfortunately, just like last year's game, the iOS version of NBA 2K14 looks great on its surface, but fails at nearly everything that makes the console versions great. This is especially insulting when the game goes for the premium price of $7.99 at the time of this review.
The game has some good qualities
There are a few positive things about NBA 2K14 for iOS, and before I get to the negatives, I'll talk about them here. One is the overall look. While you're not going to get the smooth graphics found on consoles, 2K Sports has done a good job of making the arenas and teams look pretty good. As you play, the game has cool graphical details like reflections on the hardwood floors, there are great player animations with signature moves for star players, and the faces are pretty recognizable for most of the players. In other words, at least it looks good while you're playing.
The other redeeming quality of this game is that it's probably the most authentic basketball simulation on mobile devices. Unfortunately, that isn't saying much. There simply are no other games in the App Store that can compare with the visual realism, sounds, and NBA action in NBA 2K14. It's pretty much the only show in town, and while I admit that it's cool to be able to play a game with my favorite team on my iPad or iPhone, it's the gameplay and other features that make the $7.99 price tag seem way too high.
Fortunately, there are a few game modes to choose from to keep it somewhat interesting. You can play single exhibition games, choose a team to play a full season (and continue on to subsequent seasons), a couple of special modes where you can play as Lebron James (the star on the cover of NBA 2K14), and Bluetooth or online multiplayer.
Lebron James special content
This content is called Path to Greatness and is divided up into two modes where you play as James with no player switching. Heat Dynasty (because the Heat were last year's champions) lets you play through consecutive championship series to see how many times the Heat can get back-to-back championships. The game chooses likely Western Conference champions that would face the Heat each year, starting with the Houston Rockets. With each game, you'll have three additional challenges that require, for example, that you keep a certain player under 15 points.
Fantastic Journey lets you experience challenges for each year as it follows James through each season on the road to the championship, with landmark battles against big-name teams. Each of these games also has an additional set of three challenges. Heat fans will probably enjoy these modes the most, but what makes them less fun than they could be is my next subject: gameplay.