As with the two games that came before it, NBA 2K14 has a brand new control scheme. And like NBA 2K13 and NBA 2K12, you are going to hate the first match you play of NBA 2K14 - because it's different and change is the devil.
Unlike '12 and '13 however, the dislike doesn't dissipate entirely after that first game is over.
This year players will now use the right thumbstick to both shoot and do skill moves - no modifiers needed. To shoot the ball, simply hold the thumbstick in a direction and the player with the ball will do his best to put it in the basket. To do a skill move, like a crossover, flick the thumbstick quickly and the player will try to break some ankles.
It's not difficult to get used to, but it does restrict your options to some extent. For example it's difficult to nail the timing window of the pump fake, and while the fake-out isn't terribly useful against AI it's a killer move in human versus human play.
With that, assigning the left trigger to a pass modifier is an odd choice. Where holding the left trigger and flicking the right thumbstick would previously have you either shooting or doing dribble moves, it now lets you pass the ball very quickly. Introducing the no-look passes players like Rubio and CP3 nail weekly is fantastic, but the impact it has on the overall gameplay is insignificant.
Another new feature is the quick play call, which can be triggered by pressing the left bumper. Instead of using the d-pad to pull up a menu as the Point Guard walks across halfway, you now hit LB and the team will run an appropriate play. Specific plays can still be called via the menu, but it's much easier to call a quick play now - handy in those late fourth quarter situations when you're down by a few points.
It's easy to see the improvements in the AI off the ball even without play calling, and the way players will create space for themselves and their teammates is impressive. It's necessary, too, because the defensive AI in 2K14 is far better than it ever has been before.
Thanks to a combination of competent collision detection and an AI that works to shut down obvious paths to the basket, players like Lebron James can no longer rush the basket almost unhindered. Roughly 80 percent of dunks will now come from fast breaks, and even the best players will have to work to find a dunk in traffic.
The collision detection can be iffy, and there are many more turnovers now due to players bumping into one another. But it appears that Visual Concepts saw this coming as it added heaps of animations to the game - including those showing off some bone-crunching player contact.
MyCareer returns, and once again Visual Concept's decision to combine a semi-complex RPG system with its basketball simulation makes MyCareer the best Create-A-Player mode in any sports game. You get to create a rookie, get drafted and etch your name in the history books as a legend, managing your stat increases, your social media presence and your relationship with your GM as your career goes on.
Nonetheless, there are issues returning from previous versions of MyCareer that still haven't been fixed. Hammering the A button to skip through replays evidently counts as your player calling for a pass at a bad time - a problem that appeared to have been fixed in 2K13, but it returns here.
All the GMs you interact with are voiced by a single voice actor, and to differentiate between them they shift the pitch of his voice up or down. And as much as everyone loves going through the draft and as realistic as the rookie contract situation is, not being able to renegotiate your contract for three entire seasons essentially removes contract negotiating from the game.
The big new addition to this year's game is Path to Greatness, where players follow Lebron James as he tries to chase the elusive seven rings. Here you choose to have Lebron either stay in Miami or head for greener pastures and you play key games from Lebron's fictional career. Anyone who remembers NBA 2K11 will recognise the genesis of this mode, and unsurprisingly Lebron's Path to Greatness features more than a few similarities with the "Jordan Challenge" - including a gruelling game where Lebron is unwell, reminiscent of Game 5 of the '97 Finals.
For fans of Lebron this mode will be a real treat, but King James has his fair share of haters and cynics will probably consider the over-dramatic narrative told by Path to Greatness a little arrogant. Haters gonna hate.
Once again the NBA 2K series delivers content for days. The Association is as deep a fantasy draft and head office simulator as ever, MyPlayer is a brilliant RPG dressed as a sports game and MyTeam is, well it's still a FIFA Ultimate Team mirror mode without the execution. The way the game simulates basketball is better than it ever has been, and while a control scheme change already seems like a certainty for 2K15, after a little practice you'll find you have almost all the control you had in previous games.