This Is What You Bought
The very first thing that happens when you boot up NBA 2K15 for the first time, is play a game. You don’t get to choose your teams or anything, and there isn’t any commentary. It’s just you, your opponents, and the court. It’s like the game is saying, “This is it. This is what you bought. When all the bells and whistles are taken away, this is the basketball game you are playing.” You can’t leave unless you complete the game, like you are being asked, “Do you really want to be here?” It’s probably because the game is installing something in the background or whatever, but it still came across as a useful tool for this review as this one game gives you a look underneath NBA 2K15 ’s hood, so to speak.
And what did I find there? Pretty much the same game as NBA 2K14 . The gameplay is basically identical. There are a couple U.I. improvements, a couple changes to how shooting works to help you make your shots more accurately, and movement feels a bit tighter all around, but that’s it. You can jump in with no tutorial, no manual, and no instruction whatsoever and you are fine. Actually, this probably would have been a good place to put a tutorial, but I digress.
The most notable immediate difference is the graphics which once again have been updated to fit next generation systems. We are starting our long and arduous ascent out of the uncanny valley now, and that’s pretty cool. Bodies move very realistically, more so than they ever have before. Faces are still a little creepy, but they do have a wider range of emotions than they did in the past. Once again you get to see sweat beading up on players’ skin and clothes wrinkle as players launch for dunks. It’s impressive and noticeable, but it’s still aesthetic.
You’ll notice a couple tweaks to the gameplay formula. Defensive A.I. has been improved. You have more options off the rebound. You’ll even notice a couple team specific plays, and smoother blocks. However, all of these are encountered with a subdued “huh… neat” as they don’t change the way the game is played in any way, shape or form. They are just small improvements to what is essentially the same game we played last year.
This one game colors your whole perception of the rest of the package. If you already played NBA 2K14 , you will kind of feel like you are playing the same game again, and you are. If you haven’t, then it will be your first time playing with the many gameplay improvements. Even so, the only thing the game really has to give you at this point are extra modes and features, the aforementioned bells and whistles, and there are a lot of them. The biggest question is whether or not they are enough to warrant a purchase, especially if you own NBA 2K14 .
Well, if you like sports games for the narrative, NBA 2K15 has you covered. The create-a-player suite in this game is one of the most advanced yet, a welcome improvement over last year’s barebones effort. Perhaps the coolest new feature is the ability to scan your face with a Kinect or a PS4 Camera. All you need to do is sit in front of the camera and slowly rotate your head left and right. It works… to a creepy degree. It manages to get the overall facial structure, facial hair, eye shape, and more. It’s impressive, but it’s also weird to see such a likeness of you ported right into the game. There’s something very “lawnmower man” about it.
If porting in your very own face doesn’t seem like fun, there are a ton of other options, from changing skin tone, to sculpting individual features of your face from cheekbones to eyebrow ridges and more. It almost feels like a full 3D modeling tool, which can be overwhelming for some but is pretty awesome for obsessives like me. It’s also worth noting that bodies don’t really have near as much variety in them, which is a shame but I suppose you probably wouldn’t see very many obese people playing in the NBA.
MyCareer has been changed quite a bit this time around. You take the role of an undrafted free agent. Your goal is to get a 10 day contract in order to prove your worth on a variety of different teams and eventually find one that sticks. While not quite as dramatic as the rivalry in NBA 2K14 , this does give you extra options, allowing you to see more of what the NBA has to offer as you make your way to the top.
In NBA 2K14 , few players were actually voice acted. This was a bit laughable as it meant most of what you were doing was reading text set to wild model gesticulation. This time around, however, several NBA pros have lent their voice to MyCareer, meaning most scenes are fully voiced. Unfortunately, it’s not like NBA pros are the best voice actors out there, and some of these lines are delivered stiffly, but hey it’s a nice touch.
As an added bonus, you can now take your MyPlayers online. Some of the most fun that I’ve had with the game are simple one on one and two on two pickup games. However, you can even play full five on five games and everything in between. All of this is integrated into the MyPark suite, which basically simulates locations, rather than teams or players. You can also participate in online events and challenges, and even play in online games for virtual rewards. Overall, you will be spending most of your time in the online modes, and along with the game’s improved netcode, this is probably the greatest appeal of NBA 2K15 . Of course, it’s still early in the game’s life-cycle and there always can be server problems in the future.
A lot of other modes have also been expanded. MyGM, for example, has grown to become more narrative as well. You’ll need to scout players, draft them, train them, and become involved with all other corners of managing a team. Every single aspect has interesting little hitches that can change the way the game plays. For example, your scout can cut corners and lead you to drafting a bad player. Your players can get angry with your draft choices, or your intensity of training, or your decisions on where to take the team, which effects their trust in you. Owners and coaches and other key players can put pressure on you to make decisions that you may not think are in the team’s best interest. Then there are injuries and substitutions to contend with, win/loss records, salary caps, and more. It does a far greater job of telling the story of what it’s like to be a team manager, which is to say, constantly trying to please a million different people.
Overall NBA 2K15 is a fun game. In fact, all of the NBA 2k series manage to be fun games. It’s just a question of whether or not you want to purchase this one, if you purchased the last one, and that’s hard to say. I enjoyed the revamped MyCareer and MyGM modes, but in the end I really just wanted to spend more time online. The online suite is nice, of course, but the gameplay simply hasn’t changed much. Basically NBA 2K15 is an expansion pack for NBA 2K14 , and it’s a good one! But don’t expect to be blown away by something entirely new and different. You are getting the same game again, just with a few extras, and it’s up to you whether or not that’s worth a full price purchase.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.5 Graphics
The players look better than ever, though faces still leave something to be desired. 4.0 Control
We are still playing the same game we played last year. 3.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Voice acting is a bit stiff in MyCareer, but it’s a nice touch. 3.5 Play Value
The new single player modes are cool but it still feels like an expansion pack. 3.9 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best