Swoosh! The sound of that perfect three point shot rings in your ears like a glorious symphony. Cheers erupt from the crowd as your MyPlayer celebrates his game-winning shot. Your coach hoists you up as you raise the MVP trophy. Congratulations, you’ve run the gauntlet of March Madness and won the championship title! This is NBA 2K15. Welcome to another round of review! I’m your host, the Lord of Games.
Released on October 7th, 2014 in the US for the Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC, NBA 2K15 was the much anticipated sequel to 2K14. Given a full year of development time for the next gen systems, 2K Sports and Visual Concepts have released an impressive sports title that simultaneously frustrates and pleases me.
Visually, this game is pretty spectacular, even when compared to last years’ next gen version. The courts are shiny, the players crisp, even the beads of sweat dribbling down their frames is depicted. We keep saying year after year that graphically, games are becoming more and more realistic, and this year is no different. Even with the worst adapted player, they still look eerily similar to their real life counterparts. Animations are smooth (for the most part) and incredibly varied, as 200+ were added to the game this year. The crowd has gotten an upgrade as well. More diversity and complete 3D models now fill your stadiums as you compete, cheering and booing accordingly.
Which brings us to the game’s sound. Clear and distinct audio marks an upgrade from last year, as the annoying popping sound that plagued many a player is no longer present. Pharrell Williams debuts as the soundtrack selector and doesn’t disappoint. The songs fit the theme of basketball and competition which usually leads to head-bobbing. Courtside sounds are spot on as well, from the sound of players’ shoes squeaking and sliding on the floor, to the rim-rattling monster jams of cover star Kevin Durant.
2K15 brings a plethora of game modes this year such as MyPlayer, MyTeam, Quick Game/Featured Game, MyGM, as well as bringing back the MyPark mode with new features. All of these game modes offer numerous ways to satisfy one’s basketball needs. Personally, I played MyPlayer/MyCareer and the MyPark modes the most. This year’s updates to MyCareer include skipping the draft and placing you as an undrafted rookie who must earn his spot on the roster mid-season. This time around, it’s much easier to land yourself on your favorite team as long as you’re playing a position that they desire, as you get to pick which team you want to try out for. Assuming you succeed in this, you then get a 10 day contract with that team, and once again must prove yourself worthy of a full contract. Other updates to this mode include more cutscenes, the return of press conferences (though they don’t happen often), and mid/end game interviews on-court with Doris Burke. Last but certainly not least, you are able to scan your face into the game and onto your MyPlayer by using the Playstation Camera or Kinect camera. Early uses of this led to many glitches and hilarious creations. A couple of patches later and it works more or less accurately.
MyPark adds three “team parks” with which you can choose to align with. Once you’ve picked a park/team, you then compete against the other two to earn bonuses and cool animations/gear/glory. Other than that, MyPark stays fairly close to its predecessor in 2K14. Online play has improved in terms of latency and playability, though many animations and jukes can be awkward or misplaced.
Unfortunately, like most games, 2K15 has its fair share of downsides. In 2K’s attempt to make the game more and more realistic, they’ve sometimes veered away from that. For example, many times when playing on normal or harder difficulties, your teammates (and this is especially true in MyPlayer) AI often makes terrible decisions, which makes it very difficult to not only keep a lead, but gain it back if the other team gets ahead. On the other hand, your opponents AI and percentages seem skewed towards success and frequently collaborate better as a team. While not game breaking in any way, it can often lead to frustration. With the addition of 200+ more animations to the game, sometimes when you’re driving or getting in close, awkward animations can sometimes play, leaving the player confused as to why or what just happened. Keep in mind however, that these are just the observations of an average/decent player at the game, and so I cannot make these claims necessarily for better players.
In conclusion, I feel that this game meets all the criteria for a great entry in sports gaming. Beautiful graphics, great gameplay, decent customizations (they re-added a create-a-player and roster edit options), and solid online play lead me to a positive experience. It is definitely worth the price of admission for basketball and sports fans, and a good buy for casual players alike. Last but not least, here are my ratings for 2K15.
Online Play: 8/10
Disclaimer: All images used in this article are for promotional purposes only.