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NBA 2K15 Review


I’m just going to throw this out there; this game is incredible……when you’re actually able to play it. Now, I know, it’s early days yet for the servers that NBA 2K15 is running off, but in the short-time that I’ve had with the game it’s concerning how many times the servers have cut out mid-game, mid-loading or just not been available at all. When you’re actually able to get through games uninterrupted, it’s easily the best on-court action I’ve ever experienced from a basketball game.

Last year’s iteration of NBA 2K was one that I stated was the best looking game out of all offerings on the new consoles (at that time). This year, you can tell that Visual Concepts have spent a lot of time on the gameplay aspects, in order to bring it up to the same level as the visuals. They played it safe last year by relying on polish and presentation to glaze over the fact that not much else had changed in terms of animations, controls and feeling. For me, the biggest two additions in NBA 2K15 are the vast array of new player animations and the all new shot meter that has changed the way you’ll play NBA 2K from here on out.

The player animations are obvious right from the first possession, whether it is using the new pick-and-roll controls to open up some space, attacking the basket or going up for a contested lay-up, it’s easy to see where some of the development work has gone into. Contact between players is more realistic than ever before; if you have your Point Guard attacking the basket and coming up to your opposition’s Center and there’s contact between them, then expect your PG to be picking himself up off the floor afterwards from a collision that really does show the difference in their size and strength. 



The all new shot meter has changed NBA 2K for the better, and I expect it to be a staple of the series for years to come. The new meter, which is shown as a semi-circle around the selected player’s icon on the court, fills up as the player moves into a position on the court that he is most comfortable or best at shooting from. It’s not just the position on the court that determines the likelihood of making the shot as the meter is also effected by feet positioning and surrounding players. If you have Steph Curry coming off a screen from a teammate, standing all alone on the edge of the three point line, then you’re going to have a full-meter…..however if it was Dwight Howard there, well, then you can guess the rest.

The biggest issue I’ve always had with NBA 2K is playing defence. Thankfully, this seems to have been improved thanks to improvements to the responsiveness of the players and, again, the animations of said players. At the minute, some aspects of the game do seem a little OP; offensive rebounds, poor passes and a few too many made contested shots are affecting things slightly, however I expect that, similar to last year, these small issues would be patched out ASAP.

Presentation has really been turned up a notch in NBA 2K15. The focus really seems to have been on building an atmosphere before you take to the court. TNT’s Ernie Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal provide a new studio pre-game show in which both presenters provide a few comments or a story or two about select players on the two opposing teams. The attention is then turned to inside the arena where, for what seems to be an absolute age, on-court player introductions have returned! The only real disappointment to the presentation is the lack of new commentary. I had the same issue with 2K14 and it’s been made worse this year the virtue that one of the old commentators, Steve Kerr, is now coach of the Golden State Warriors. They’ve kept him in 2K15 as one of the in-game voices but, as you can probably imagine due to his busy schedule, nothing new seems to have been recorded by him for this new iteration.

On the court, player models are been refined and improved. More than ever, it is even easier to spot certain players on the court, and tell the difference between the lower rated/lesser name players on your team thanks to this. The crowd and in stadium visuals are still some of the best of any sports game available; providing an atmosphere that has yet to be matched in visuals or feeling.



All the game modes available last year have returned with minor additions and changes in each with the only new (well, kind of new) mode being a fully customisable, offline only mode similar to MyGM called MyLeague. This new mode allows you to compete in an 80-year franchise that offers all the gameplay and options of MyGM but it can be all be adjusted to your liking. The most popular mode in the NBA 2K series, MyCareer, has had a bit of a story overhaul. You’re now take the role of an undrafted rookie free agent who’s picked up half way through the season and must fight for a spot on a team via 10-day contracts and good performances. Even more of the NBA stars and veterans have provided their own voice acting skills in order to make player interactions and in-between game cut scenes even more realistic and impressive. Your player in MyCareer can resemble you more than ever thanks to the new FaceScanning facility, provided you’ve got a Kinect of PS4 camera. I did this…..45 minutes and 6 attempts later and I finally got a scan that resembled me. It’s got teething issues to say the least, and I’m sure you’ve seen some of the pictures of the horror scans online, but when it works it’s mightily impressive.

Last year’s NBA 2K relied heavily on Virtual Currency (VC) to do pretty much anything. Thankfully, NBA 2K15 has reduced this reliance to an acceptable level. VC is now only used for attribute purchases in MyCareer, pack purchases in MyTeam, and various items in MyGM, amongst other things. The ways of gaining VC have increased and the VC outputs are a lot higher than they were so I can’t have any quarrels with it.

NBA 2K15 provides the best all around basketball experience outside of actually playing the sport or watching a game. Once the server issues are ironed out (hopefully sooner rather than later) the reduction in game drops and cut-outs will improve the overall experience; there’s nothing more frustrating than getting 40 minutes into a game and the servers cutting out. The changes in gameplay mechanics and animations make NBA 2K15 feel fresh, control like a dream and it looks fantastic too.

Review by James Grantham
Twitter: @JamesGrantham26 | PSN/Xbox LIVE: Redskins2336

(Version Tested: Xbox One/PS4)


Pros

+ Ridiculously realistic on-court action
+ Visuals that knock on the door of real-life
+ Improved game modes
+ Doesn’t rely as much on VC in comparison to 2K14

Cons

- Server issues
- Commentary is still disappointing

Edited On 15 Oct, 2014

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