There are certain things in the gaming world you can count on happening each and every year, one of which is 2K Sports releasing another basketball game. Now up to the sixteenth instalment in the NBA 2K series developed by Visual Concepts, NBA 2K15 hopes to build upon the previous year’s offering. Can it slam dunk its way into basketball fans’ hearts?
The NBA has always been a strange one for me, despite never watching a full game of basketball itself, I’ve been able to pick up and play many different video game incarnations of the sport over the years without any apprehension. Hence, as long as a game is accessible to even the most casual of fans whilst giving enough to satisfy the hardcore community, then that is surely the key to success. And well… I think this almost manages to maintain that healthy balance.
I say almost because nearly every mode has a depth that is enhanced in some way by understanding the goings on for all aspects of the NBA scene. This is most relevant for the MyGM mode which places you firmly in the role as the general manager of a team of your choosing, for me it was San Antonio Spurs. So you just pick a line-up and throw them out there on the court to win games on your behalf right? No, there’s much more to it.
For starters the finer details of picking from your roster include how many minutes of the game they’ll play plus what the offensive and defensive strategies are. This part I could handle, as well as talking to disgruntled players, the press and even the owner which can lead to consequences both good and bad. When I’m looking to tie players down to contracts or searching for new hopefuls to join the squad it’s a little bit daunting. Managing the various revenue streams can be a real task too, I have no clue how many dollars I should charge for a hat!
The mere fact there’s so much to get stuck into makes it all the more enjoyable when you make the correct decisions and calls. If you factor in the ability to play the matches instead of simulating, the team and their dreams of becoming the biggest franchise in the association are in your hands. Of course you can play MyLEAGUE should you prefer to play out your seasons without all the pressure of the business side of things.
For those, like me, whom struggle to work with a whole team on the court then MyCAREER is the centre stage to shine on. Here a star can be created with your hands and his entire career starting from the very bottom is shaped dependent on your ballin skills. When an opportunity comes your way you have to grasp is and perform immediately it seems. This can be difficult, especially considering your character has limited ability and all your team mates are a bit apprehensive to give the ball to the newbie.
Usually I have a lack of patience, but in MyCAREER it pays (literally, in the game’s currency) to stick at it because the feeling when the team trust you with the ball is one of warmth. It’s magical. Nearly everything that comes with being a top baller is present; for example endorsements, social media comments that you shouldn’t read after a bad game and a great variety of skills to be upgraded.
It sounds too good to be true, and unfortunately it is. There are interactions with various people throughout with choices of things to say but I’m yet to see what effect it has in this mode. One time I had an aggressive tone with my team Captain; it didn’t have a single consequence on Chemistry or anything, unlike in MyGM where it’s pretty clear when there’s a reaction to your actions. I also am not fond of the repetitive coaching half time talks or the substitution comments that make out that I’ve been rubbish whilst I’m actually running the game like a young Michael Jordan.
These don’t seem the worst things in the world of gaming issues, but take into account there’s 82 games in one season and your minutes per game average isn’t very high, those cut-scenes and such can take up almost 50% of your time spent playing.
Last but not least for the main modes, MyTEAM – A version of “ultimate team” that you may have seen in EA games, where the goal is to ultimately create a fantasy team of all your favourite stars. They’ve got great ideas here with lots of challenges to attempt and rewards for collecting full sets of teams from the card packs. There’s a lack of offline matchups for early on in the moulding of your team but it’s missing a league format that they’ve only included for online play. It’ll take you ages to get a nice collection of player cards to use in game and so this could be something of a slow burner, and more worthwhile for those willing to invest a large chunk of time.
There are other things to do including regular one versus one team matches, online leagues for up to 30 people and playing on street courts with small teams. Most of these are hidden away a bit; however it’s good to see the actual main menu navigation looks and works much better than previously.
One of the coolest new features is a weekly edition of 2KTV brought to you directly in-game by Rachel DeMita. Generally it has a decent mixture of interviews (Ernie Johnson, Kevin Durant etc.), gameplay tips from Mike Wang and neat NBA 2K15 gamer community showcases. When you’re just chilling after a few games it’s a decent watch.
For all the modes available to the players, there’s very little point having them unless it plays well. What I enjoy about the gameplay most is the constant changing of pace on both the attack and defence. Smooth describes the overall feel of movement, passing and shooting which surprisingly stayed as fluid online too. The most refreshing part is you can’t always just run with the ball, there’s an element of strategy in blocking or even marking defenders and when trying to carve defences apart. With the new shooting meter it helps the newcomers get their jump and release timing more accurate.
I can’t say an awful lot has changed in a year; there are definite tweaks all round like in the shooting but also in minor features of certain modes. Graphically it could be better at times because seeing arms going through player’s chests is disappointing and like something you’d see in a horror film. NBA 2K15 doesn’t break any new boundaries yet offers a selection of modes that would be mouth-watering to fans of the sport. Sadly game freezing has occurred quite a few times mid-game which is the most disappointing part of an otherwise solid addition to the NBA 2K series.
If you don’t own, or haven’t owned an NBA game in a while, then surely it’s a no brainer… just go and purchase it. However, if you played last year’s title, it all depends on your fondness of having or needing updated rosters and minor tweaks.
There’s hours and hours of ballin to be had.