GAME NAME: NBA 2K15
DEVELOPER(S): Visual Concepts
PUBLISHER(S): 2K Sports
PLATFORM(S): Xbox One(Reviewed), Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC
RELEASE DATE(S): October 7, 2014
NBA 2K15 is both punishing and accessible at the same time, which isn’t something I usually expect in a sports game. I loved 2K14 and it was really the final nail in the coffin for me making the switch to the new consoles at launch after seeing it. It had it’s issues and limitations especially being a launch title but overall was a damn good basketball game that impressed more than not. You could tell that there was so much more under the surface waiting until the developers could really sink their claws into the game and they absolutely delivered.
So my first sentence here talked about how this game punishes you and it truly does due to how smart the A.I. is for the players most of the time. I made the mistake of thinking I could play small ball for a few minutes and watched in horror as the Memphis Grizzlies trucked me in the post and on the glass. Making me switch strategies and personnel on the fly. Getting caught chasing a player like James Harden through screens only to see him get free at the last second for a 3 pointer is heart breaking and happens frequently if you’re slacking on the defensive end.
Another way 2k15 is diabolical is the way it takes advantage of mismatches almost instantly. Switching on a pick and roll and leaving your defense susceptible to slow rotations will kill you. An example of this was when poor poor Norris Cole was matched up on Dirk Nowitzki and the big German rained down 3’s on me. The players themselves play so uniquely that waterbug point guards like Russell Westbrook and and John Wall are vastly different than guys like Raymond Felton and Andre Miller even though they play the same position. I know that this was something that they touted last year but stands out much more in this year’s addition.
The Badge System is another new addition and digging into it is one of the reasons that the players are so well represented here. The Badges are split into personality based and performance based. Performance based Badges are dedicated to player skills like “Outlet Passing” or “Volume Shooter” and they have 3 levels (bronze, silver, and gold). One of the great 2KU videos included in the game shows how a Badge like “Heart and Soul” gives the player the personality to galvanize his teammates and help turn a deficit into a comeback. Speaking of the 2KU videos they are actually well presented and informative to give you an idea on how to use the new gameplay mechanics. The videos as well as the new Shot Feedback help make the game more accessible for new players and veterans alike. Now you instantly get feedback on your player’s range, the quality of the shot you just took, and whether the release was early, late, or perfect. Players have their own signature shooting style to seeing feedback helps you adjust your own game to the players you’re using. There are major differences in style and release between a guy like Shawn Marion and the picture perfect jumpshot of Ray Allen (aka Jesus Shuttlesworth).
The presentation in NBA 2K15 is the best I’ve ever seen in a sports videogame. The commentary is incredible and varied. The amount of time Kevin Harlan, Clark Kellogg, and Steve Kerr spent doing their dialog has to be pointed out due to how well it’s done. Ernie Johnson and Shaq also joined the cast now as pregame announcers and depending on your view of Shaq it’s either great or you’ll skip it everytime. Graphically it’s a powerhouse and the hair, sweat, tattoos, jerseys and arenas are all standouts.
It’s not all roses here unfortunately there are a couple issues. There is a weird bug where the referee will sometimes take upwards of a minute to pass the ball to the inbounding player. Now, this isn’t game breaking and it’s a minor annoyance but it’s something I felt needed to be pointed out. Animations sometimes repeat too frequently such as when a player commits an illegal offensive screen he hits the ground. Pretty cool that they’re calling illegal screens though. I’ve tried playing a few games online and what I’ve seen unfortunately is rough gameplay and controls that are not nearly as responsive as they should be.
If you’re an NBA fan it’s a no brainer. I highly recommend this year’s version of NBA 2K and will definitely continue taking the boys from South Beach on another run to the NBA finals. Have fun and Go Heat!