You can’t argue with the fact that NBA 2K is the leading basketball video game series of the digital world. This year, just like any year, 2K Sports brings us the new title in the franchise, NBA 2K15, and promises it’s the answer to all of the fan feedback from last year. With brand new game modes, more and better animations, and longer loading screens – is this really the next generation of basketball?
I’m always surprised by how 2K Sports always succeed in enriching the NBA 2K experience. The most common complaint among newcomers was always the difficulty in getting the ball in the basket, which is a pretty major part of basketball. I’ve mentioned in the past that the NBA 2K games are more of a simulator than a game, so naturally there’s a steep difficulty curve to overcome. Things aren’t so different this time around, but now there’s a new meter above the player, showing the changes he has for making the shot – considering the distance, skill, and whether or not he is being guarded. Finally even the most amateur of basketball gamers has the right tools in order to learn this new type of game. If you’re a veteran, this new meter can help you pull off some truly amazing moves and stunts.
When looking at the graphics, you immediately know this is a next-gen title. If you don’t look too closely, you might even mistake it for a real basketball game, and not a video game. 60 frames-per-second and smooth, realistic player animations make this game stand out in today’s market, even above games that don’t have anything to do with sports. Developer Visual Concepts has an eye for detail, and it really shows.
The most highlighted mode and the one with the most improvements is MyCareer. This mode lets create your own player and take him through an entire season and perhaps win the coveted championship. In previous years you had to carefully address every parameter of your player, which took a very long time. And all through the season, when you invested points in improving your player, it took a while until you started feeling him getting better at the game. This time, the dozens of parameters have been reduced to just six, so now when you improve your player, every point affects several aspects. For example, the Jump Shooter parameter affects the short-distance throws, mid-range throws, long-distance throws, throws while running and throws from the penalty line. The value and skill of your player go up significantly faster and you feel he has a greater influence on the match’s outcome.
Another great thing about the new MyCareer is the story. This time it feels much more personal, as your player needs to impress and convince the NBA teams he is the right player for them. You can make choices when in dialog that affect your player’s responses and reactions, and actual players from every available team will take the place of your mentor. They’re not professional voice actors, but it still a nice little addition to the overall atmosphere. You also have the ability to scan your face into the game, so your player will look like you. Unfortunately, no matter how many times I tried, I could get the PS4 camera to cooperate and scan my face properly.
MyGM is another game mode especially aimed for those who enjoy running and managing a sports team. In this mode you get to manage everything: from negotiating players’ salary, through food costs in your home court, to basically the entire business future of your team. This mode puts a little more emphasis on story as well, which the team owners making demands and you need to manage everything and satisfy everyone. I’m glad to report I managed to fulfill all my promises to the owners of my team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and even please the players themselves with lots of home wins. You can also take control of individual players during games, thus actively contributing to the win, but if you rather just stick to managing you can fast-forward them.
MyLeague is somewhat similar to MyGM, but here you manage a whole season instead of one team. Which teams you want to include in your league, what’s the maximum salary they can get, and whether or not players can switch teams freely or have to get your permission first are just a few of the terms and conditions you get to impose. It’s a giant sandbox for you to play in, letting you determine exactly how the league and season will play out; in terms of management and businesses, at least. I got to say I don’t see the point of this mode, since MyGM lets you already run an entire NBA team, in a much more personal level. MyLeague feels like an extension where you can control more aspects that wouldn’t make sense in the smaller system of MyGM. All-in-all, this mode works fine and it’s kinda cool messing with all the teams and maybe creating the ultimate fantasy basketball team.
But if you don’t really like managing sports teams and entire leagues, how do you feel about card games? MyTeam lets you “buy” packs of cards and collect quality players and coaches, cool uniform and the likes. After you assemble a winning deck, you can go online and play a game of basketball against others using the team in your deck. It’s a nifty system that lets you create the teams you always wanted to see, and even if you’re opponent has the upper hand, you can still win the match by utilizing your skills on the court.
Unfortunately, not everything is perfect. The loading screens are just too long, and you’ll find yourself spending more time waiting than actually playing basketball or upgrading your player. If you’re not planning on investing a good few hours with the game, you probably shouldn’t even bother starting it up, since it takes too much time to start a single match.
I’ve also noticed some issues with the AI, like the fact that the AI-controlled players already “know” if you’re going to make the shot or not, and act accordingly even while the ball is in mid-air. It doesn’t have a real effect on the game, but it does hurt the tension and anticipation. Other times, when I tried to pass the ball to another player, that player just kept running to his pre-designated position behind a guard, even though he was free while I made the pass. Naturally, this caused the ball to end up in the hands of the guard. It seems like the AI is too set on its predetermined set of moves and doesn’t offer much flexibility. Admittedly, these situations only occurred a handful of times, but it was enough for me to notice and bring it up.
If you enjoy basketball games, NBA 2K 15 is for you; if you like sports games, NBA 2K15 is for you; If you’re looking into maybe trying a sports game, NBA 2K15 is for you. 2K Sports and Visual Concepts studied past titles and improved everything that stood in the way of completely enjoying a great basketball game. If you’re a rookie player, there’s no better place to start than here.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.