Draft Day Sports: Pro Basketball 2016 Review (PC)
The NBA playoffs are fast approaching. Watching Steph Curry’s Warriors march on to become the winningest team in history is fun, but if your team is anything like my Knicks you’re left pondering what could have been.
You probably are left asking questions like, "What were the transactions which turned this season of hope into a season of despair?"
If you were in the front office or on the sidelines what would you have done differently?
In Wolverine Studios’ Draft Day Sports:Pro Basketball 16 you’ll have the chance to find out. DDS:PB16 is one of the few text sim basketball games available. Even though the pickings are very slim in this genre, the question remains: Is this game worth your time and money?
If a friend passed by as you were playing DDS:PB16 it would be easy for them to confuse this game as accounting homework. There are lots of spreadsheets that make up the heart of what gameplay is here. What that means is that you spend your time using your intellect as opposed to using your reflexes.
The game starts you off by creating your character and selecting a team. There is no NBA license so there are no actual team names, logos, or player likenesses. I chose to become the General Manager for the Brooklyn Hoops (get it?!). There are player names and stats that go back to the inception of the league, however, so it really scratches that itch for the basketball historian. The logos, silhouettes, and team names can be customized after the fact so anything can be added both at the professional and “developmental” levels.
Customization and historical data is where this game truly shines. I can see every major statistic of any player in history at any time. I can view the entire draft history of any team as well as a team’s given postseason success and awards. I spent hours perusing the annals of history.
If only the day-to-day management was as interesting. You have the option of being a GM, a coach, or both. Gamedays put you in the role of the head coach, irrespective to the role that you actually serve. As the coach in game you don’t call plays. You call timeouts, substitutions and have the ability to argue with the ref. None of your coaching decisions really seem to matter. It is fortunate that you have the option of turning off the ability to “coach” the game or you can sim the games outright.
The rest of the gameplay comes in the form of scouting players for the upcoming draft. Drafting foreign born, college and high school (an option you can turn on) players during that year’s ametuer draft. Negotiating with players and coaches during the free agency period and proposing and accepting trades. These are the most impactful gameplay options.
You have the ability to deal with player temperament but I didn’t have much success using this feature. You might receive an email from a player complaining about a coach’s practices or lack of playing time but there’s no indication of who the player is.
Player scouting is another area that is a mixed bag. Player cards provide a great write up of a particular a player’s strengths and weaknesses but the attribute ratings and categories are difficult to understand. Sometimes is very hard to predict what type of player you’ve drafted based on attributes and the included pie charts.
Like the gameplay, the presentation of DDS:PB16 is very hit-or-miss. There are two modes with which a single game can be viewed. One is a top-down representation of the basketball court with player numbers and a basketball while the other provides a box score with a text based play-by-play. The view you choose must be selected prior to the game’s start and can’t be changed.
The draft is where you’ll see the most “presentation” as there is a three man team where the analysts give pre and post selection commentary of draft picks. The information provided by this team isn’t that varied and gets stale very quickly. I do, however, like the ticker at the bottom that provides historical anecdotes for team’s selections.
Navigating the menu system isn’t as intuitive as I would have liked. Free agency is handled very weirdly. I can see the available coaches (you can have up to four) at any time but you can’t hire them directly from that page. You have to go to a similar looking page to actually make your bids. It’s a similar process for free agents.
There is a lot to do in DDS:PB16. The league is expandable to up to 32 teams. The game can be played as a single player experience or with up to 31 other humans in multiplayer mode. You can even turn back the clock and start your career as a GM in 1976, the year of the NBA-ABA merger. This mode is complete with expansions (and expansion drafts) the same years that they occurred in real life.
The problem with this game is that while it does an adequate job of simulating the life of pro basketball GM, it doesn’t do enough. There’s no ability to perform multi-team trades, for example. There isn’t enough attention paid to how personalities and chemistry affect the team (if there is, it’s not readily apparent to the player). It’s also a little too inconsistent in how useful player scouting is.
While there’s a lot to enjoy in DDS:PB16 I just don’t feel that it does enough to separate itself from other basketball games currently on the market and I’m not just talking text-sim games. A very good argument can be made that the options in NBA2K16’s MyGM mode are far more robust than what this game provides. It’s incredibly hard to recommend this game over other games on the market unless you’re a huge fan of historical stats, especially given the price point.
If DDS:PB16 was an NBA GM it would be Isiah Thomas; you have high hopes for its ability to do the job but too many head scratching decisions leave you wondering about what could have been.
For someone wanting to try out the life behind the scenes of an NBA franchise, you might consider this. For everyone else, the game is a pass.
Verdict: 5.5 (Average)