2K Sports Senior Producer Rob Jones Talks NBA 2K14, LeBron James And More

The budget impasse isn’t the only shutdown happening on the First of October. Men will be reporting to their mancaves as NBA 2K14 hits shelves for PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360 nationwide today.

The NBA’s latest 2K installment via Visual Concepts hones in on the league’s reigning MVP LeBron James, who also serves as the game’s cover athlete, as a salute to the game’s history and future.

“We’ve done a good job of recreating the past, but with LeBron, we wanted to try something that would extend the future,” Rob Jones, a senior producer of 2K Sports tells VIBE.

For the 2014 edition, the Miami Heat small forward travels the same virtual route as Michael Jordan. MJ, who graced the covers of 2K11 and 2K12, had a Jordan Challenge mode which allowed gamers to replicate the legendary baller’s career-defining moments, like the last-second shot against the Utah Jazz in ’98 and the infamous Flu game in ’97.

Similarly, the newest feature in 2K14 is James’ Path to Greatness and Continue Heat Dynasty modes that allow console-holders to ball like ‘Bron and control his team destiny. The gamer has the ability to decide whether James takes his talents elsewhere or opts to build his career dynasty by remaining in South Beach—irony at its finest as James will explore free agency again next summer.

According to GamingBolt, gamers progress through a series of different scenarios to play necessary to further your basketball career; these can be full games or even just segments from a particular match. Both gameplay arcs have the same ultimate goal, to win five or more NBA titles, virtually outdoing the legacy left by Michael Jordan.

Another switch-up is 2K14’s Euro League additions. Doing away with the legends’ teams for the first time, Jones says the makers wanted to narrate a different story by implementing teams such as Spain FC Barcelona, Russia CSKA Moscow and Israel Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv. “We’re expanding with the Euro League, so the legends took a little bit of a hiatus,” he said.

The soundtrack also gets an upgrade as some of today’s most viral rap joints litter the games, fitting given James plucked the tracks first-hand. “2K is letting me take control of some important elements in NBA 2K14, including this year’s soundtrack,” James told NBA.com this past summer. “I love that I’m the first NBA 2K cover athlete to choose the soundtrack.” Players can run the court to the sounds of Drake’s “Started from the Bottom,” Eminem’s “Not Afraid,” Jadakiss and Ayanna Irish’s “Can’t Stop Me,” Jay-Z’s “The Ruler’s Back,” and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.”

The players’ rating system on NBA 2K system also stays true to form. While James’ 99 rating is the barometer for other players’ standards, Jones says the makers have remained true to the standards of the past 2012-13 season, where notable ballers like the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose and Boston Celtics’ Rajon Rondo, who missed the bulk of the schedule, were ranked based on stats. A Dynamic Living roster was also added for the special cases.

“You take a guy like Derrick Rose, he was out a whole year, he’s going to be a little bit different in terms of whether you get him right—but at the same time with our new feature we will be quickly able to adjust,” said Jones.

Defensive strategy has also improved immensely in NBA 2K14. Users can now imitate the intimidating blocks in transition of LeBron James or Kenyon Martin by pinning the ball on the backboard.

“One of the things we noticed is that we didn’t have a realistic shot blocking game,” said Jones. “We rebuilt that system essentially from scratch, the best thing is that when I’m running I actually feel like I can time the guy.”

With the added Euro teams and LeBron game play, Visual Concepts still keeps the game going. NBA 2K14 will also make its way to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles when they are released later this year.—Brandon Robinson (@ScoopB)