Following LeBron James on his “Path to Greatness” in ‘NBA 2K14’

Miami Heat star LeBron James is facing a big question at the end of the upcoming 2013/2014 NBA season. He’s still got time left on his contract with the Florida team, but an early termination clause could allow him to enter the free agent pool early, with his league MVP status making him a hot commodity there. Will LeBron stick with the Miami Heat, the team he’s been with since his high-profile departure in 2010 from the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team he started his pro basketball career with? Or will he become a free agent, bringing his considerable talents to another team in exchange for what is sure to be a lucrative contract? Visual Concepts offers NBA 2K14 fans an opportunity to play through both of these scenarios out in the newly detailed mode, “LeBron: Path to Greatness.”

The first step in Path to Greatness involves choosing a path: does LeBron stick with the “Heat Dynasty” or does he embark on a “Fantastic Journey” as a free agent? Regardless of which one you choose, your goal is to play through a series of scripted challenges as you lead LeBron toward his seventh NBA championship ring. He’s got two so far, and while he’s seen by many as the most talented player in professional basketball today, a seventh ring would put him one ahead of Michael Jordan, whom many consider to be the greatest player ever. Each of the two paths chart LeBron’s journey to that seventh ring over the next stretch of years.

You don’t play each full season, but rather individual games that define LeBron’s journey in some way. For example, the Heat Dynasty path starts out with the 2013/2014 finals, in which Miami tries to secure itself a championship three-peat. The seven subsequent games in this path cycle head through successive seasons and future championships. In the final game, the Dallas Mavericks lure a now-retired Kobe Bryant out of retirement to join three dynamite up-and-comers in an effort to shut down LeBron’s quest.

The Fantastic Journey path tells a very different story. It starts out with the 2013/2014 season, with a rematch of last year’s championship match-up against the San Antonio Spurs, a Heat/Clippers game that forces LeBron to play out of position, and LeBron vs. Kobe faceoff in a late-season Heat/Lakers match-up. It’s the New York Knicks that scoop him up out of free agency in the next season and, after a few years of success there, LeBron returns home to Cleveland, where he started.

The idea with this mode is to present players with unusual match-ups and lineup challenges that they wouldn’t otherwise encounter elsewhere in NBA 2K14. It could be LeBron having to deal with rookie superstars – fictional creations, all – trying to usurp King James. Or maybe some team manages to lure Allen Iverson out of retirement in an attempt to shut LeBron down with veteran blood on the court.

Each game in Path to Greatness comes with a set of three sub-objectives as well, relating to stats like LeBron’s performance, his teammates’ performances, and the overall win margin. The mode is all about LeBron, but any given game puts players in control of the entire team. Each step in both of the paths also comes with its own story, and that influences the objectives as well. In Allen Iverson’s aforementioned return, for example, the team’s defensive performance plays into your ratings. In another game, by pitting LeBron against former Heat teammate Dwayne Wade, your rating is influenced by how the two players’ stats compare.

That’s the basic setup for LeBron: Path to Greatness. It doesn’t introduce any gameplay quirks and it’s not meant to be NBA 2K14‘s marquee mode, but it seems like a cool and somewhat offbeat addition for fans of King James. It’s only going to be included with current-gen versions of the game, and you’ll be able to check it out for yourself when NBA 2K14 launches on October 1, 2013, for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.

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