The past couple of iterations of the MyCareer mode in the NBA 2K franchise left a lot to be desired. 2K14 was corny, 2K15 took away half the rookie season, and 2K16 tried too hard to be the second coming of He Got Game. Since the introduction of a storyline in 2K14, fans of the MyCareer mode have been waiting for the game that perfectly mixes the elements of an RPG with fun and fluid basketball gameplay.
The creative process took three tries, but the team at 2K and Visual Concepts finally hit the nail on the head, delivering their best rendition of MyCareer in NBA 2K17.
NBA 2K17's MyCareer is a masterpiece, combining the best elements of its past attempts to create what is undoubtedly the best single game mode in the sports gaming industry. While there are a few hiccups, this year's version of MyCareer is already receiving love from both rookie and veteran users alike. There is an abundance of new material, but 2K does not skimp out on the basics.
Out of all the features announced in blogs and trailers, the one which caught the 2K community the most was the introduction of "Orange Juice," a feature which allows users to take control of both their MyPlayer and Justice Young.
To activate Orange Juice, the MyPlayer and Justice have to dish out three assists to one another. After each basket, both the MyPlayer and Justice will have an orange circle blink under their feet. Once the MyPlayer and Justice link up on three baskets, Orange Juice will activate, and it gives the user the ability to swap between the two interchangeably. During home games, the crowd will chant "Or-ange Jui-ice" once a user activates Orange Juice, and the announcers will commentate on the duo based on events which occur in the cutscenes.
Utilizing both players makes racking up assists much easier. If Justice is being double-teamed and the user is controlling him, they can pass to, and take control of my MyPlayer, and record an easy basket. Orange Juice gives the game far more replay-ability. MyCareer, without a doubt, is a fun game mode, but playing through a season can become monotonous. With this new feature, a user can activate the perk, then play as Justice for as long as they want.
Users may be tempted to play with Justice, a 6'2" athletic point guard, more than their actual MyPlayer, because he is rated much higher at the beginning of the game mode, progressing from a mid-70 to a low-80 in just ten games. Jordan's character is the living embodiment of what a MyPlayer's attributes in games such 2K13, where users had the ability to max out a player in nearly every category. Those days are gone, but playing with Justice is a fun alternative. Orange Juice's integration into the game mode is not solely on the court, but off the court as well. The chemistry between Justice and MyPlayer quickly becomes an integral part of the storyline as the two interact in a majority of the cutscenes.
Without spoiling the storyline, there are several moments in which your MyPlayer has to make a decision which affects your MyPlayer's relationship with Justice. Choosing the correct decision prompts a positive response while choosing the wrong response results in distrust. The relationship between MyPlayer and Justice feels organic as well. The two bond as the story progresses, not just becoming close teammates, but best friends. They are, after all, the duo which invents the catch phrase "Orange Juice."
NBA 2K17 chose the right course of action by distributing the cutscenes over the course of the season instead of piling them all at once like last year. Before and after every game or so, there is a cutscene which breaks up the potentially monotonous cycle of going back to the MyCourt, and then engaging in an activity. Cutscenes are short and sweet, yet genuine and realistic, which makes for a much more enjoyable experience. They cannot be skipped, but because of their length, it does not pose as a problem in the long run. On-court performance also determines the cutscenes. After a couple of games, there is a cutscene where your MyPlayer receives a voicemail from his mother, either congratulating him or patting him on the back, depending on his performance the previous night's game. Though there is much to applaud the cutscenes for, they aren't perfect. The heights of characters are all the same, which is especially strange to see if a user creates a 7'3" center, yet is the same height as everyone else. There will also be instances when one character appears on screen but has another character's voice. For example, in one cutscene, two Justices appeared on the screen, but one had the voice of Denver Levins. These are minor glitches, but they do not usually detract from an overall enjoyable experience.
Source: NBA 2K17
The Doin' Work Meter
The introduction of the Doin' Work Meter is a great addition to the game and gives the 2K grind a whole new meaning. The meter fills every time one's MyPlayer practices, whether it be on the MyCourt or in the team's practice gym. Filling up the meter does not mean a user receives an additional upgrade slot. To get the extra upgrade slot, a user must fill up the meter about ten or so times, which is incredibly time-consuming.The fastest and most efficient way to fill up the Doin' Work meter is to skip regularly scheduled drills during the team practices and refuse to participate in workouts with teammates during the extra practices. Instead, go into the weight room in the practice gym and do the Vertical Jump exercise two times, which takes only about thirty seconds apiece. Doing this drill twice fills up the Doin' Work meter in a minute, give or take.
Another way to quickly fill up the Doin' Work Meter is to select the option to "Work on Your Shot."
To begin, a user must choose a spot on the floor, then holds the back two bumpers on the XBOX or PS4 Controllers. Doing so activates a Beat the Pro drill, which can be easily completed with a gold ranking if the spot is close to the basket. The practices themselves, except for a few new drills, are mostly the same. One irritating aspect is that failure to attend a scheduled team practice results in a potential benching, which is illogical if your MyPlayer is putting up ridiculous numbers every night. It isn't too much of a problem, though, as users can simply go to the practice, and immediately leave without participating in any of the scheduled drills.
The grind doesn't stop there, as 2K has made unlocking badges much more of a grind than last year. In addition to regular Bronze, Silver, and Gold badges, 2K introduced a "Hall of Fame" badge. Every archetype comes with five badges which can be upgraded to Hall of Fame. To unlock this, you must first unlock the bronze version. After unlocking the Bronze version, you have to buy the Silver and Gold versions of the badge. After buying the Gold version, you must fulfill the requirements that it took to get the Bronze version to get the Hall of Fame badge.There is no "easy" way to get these Hall of Fame badges, but the quickest way is to play twelve minute quarters on Rookie difficulty.
Unlocking the badges takes quite a while, but it is well worth the work. There is also a Grand badge. According to Zach Timmerman on Twitter, "The attribute requirements for Grand Badges only require you to fill up ypur first 80 upgrades to an 86 overall. Then dominate games = earn."
In addition to changing up the badge system, NBA 2K17 also revamped their Off Day system. Instead of having to choose one activity per day, users can choose however many are available on a particular day. This ability to make a choice between multiple activities means users can go to practice three times in one day, practice twice and make an appearance for a sponsor, or, of course, skip the Off Day altogether and proceed the next game. The newly revamped Off Day system is a huge step in the right direction for NBA 2K17. Last year's Off Day system was a fantastic edition to the game but hindered by the fact that users could only participate in one activity per day.
In addition to the major aspects of the game, the 2K team took the time to work on some of the minor details of the MyCareer mode, which made a tremendous difference.
The MyCourt is once again back in NBA 2K17 and plays a far more significant role this time around. Not only is it larger than last year's, but a considerable amount of cutscenes take place inside it. NPCs will also occasionally drop in to shoot around, which fills the Doin' Work Meter. 2K sprinkled in more detail as well, such as the ability to zoom in on the awards and shoes. It can become annoying to watch your MyPlayer walk in and out of the MyCourt for every activity, but walking behind the counter and then choosing an option skips the cutscene.
Source: NBA 2K17
The addition of texting is a refreshing idea as well. The responses are limited to one of two choices, but it's a solid way to keep up with events occurring in the storyline. Texting also gives users the ability to choose whether or not to participate in events, which gives users more freedom of choice.
While NBA 2K17's MyCareer mode is one of the best to date, there are a couple of grievances which the 2K crew needs to address.
The issue which has infuriated every gamer in the 2K community is the inability to upgrade certain attributes, such as free throws, stamina, and shot IQ. Instead of purchasing these attributes, one has to earn them in the team practices. Having to upgrade attributes in this fashion shouldn't be a problem if it was correctly executed, but 2K dropped the ball big time.To upgrade free throws, for example, you must participate in Free Throw Golf after the regularly scheduled drills in a team practice. There is no rhyme or reason to these drills because knocking down every free throw does not even necessarily guarantee an attribute boost.
While this inability to consistently upgrade attributes is frustrating in an of itself, this problem is exacerbated by the fact that the attribute boosts do not work. Even if a screen pops up in practice which says "Free Throw +1," the upgrade does not apply to your MyPlayer. For example, I started at a 66 Free Throw, and 25 games into the season, I have the same rating despite my participation in practice. Personally, missing free throws has always been infuriating, and being stuck at such a low rating means I'm shooting around 75%, rather than around 90%.
2K has recently patched this problem, but for users, like myself, who bought the game when it first came out, this was incredibly frustrating.
Aside from these minor grievances, NBA 2K17's MyCareer mode is one of, if not the best, iterations in franchise history. I expect 2K to fix most of these bugs in the future, but for right now, MyCareer gets a solid 9/10.