NBA 2K15 largely looks and feels very similar to NBA 2K14. There are a few gameplay improvements and tweaks here and there to round off the edges and make the game play better, but the core experience feels like a reboot of NBA 2k14, fortunately not one directed by Marc Webb, as this is much more “amazing” than anything he has promised us in recent years…
Sports games nowadays are trying to capture the presentation, feel and atmosphere of a real life game. But the most important aspect of any sports game from the first one to the very latest is the actual gameplay. The action on the court in NBA 2K15 is fantastically well done. If you were to watch for 5 minutes, you probably wouldn’t be able to say if you were looking at NBA 2K14 or 15. But if you were playing the game for 5 minutes, you’d know almost straight away. The tweaks and changes made to round the game off work so very well.
There is so much more space on the court, but at the same time, so much less space. Depending on whether you are defending or attacking, you will see a difference in space. Not only that, but if you are on the attack and try a wild 3 pointer in little to no space, the odds are you.re getting shut down or you’re missing the shot. Bad decisions like this are punished harshly by the AI and you can do little to stop the impending hoop at the other end of the court. Patience is key here and with a 24 second shot clock, you have to find the opportune time to shoot or make a play very quickly. As I mentioned, the AI is merciless this year, making sure that every bad decision goes punished, almost to a state where it is trying to teach you by force. The AI makes much more realistic choices, team movements and tactics to help keep the game as tough as possible, at least for the first few hours of play. Obviously, overall the gameplay has only benefited from the tweaks and the game as a whole in turn benefits from these.
The actual gameplay isn’t the only aspect of this beautifully crafted basketball game that I will praise. The overall look of the game is fantastic. I don’t just mean the close to real life graphics that 2K blesses us with, but the presentation as a whole. Graphics, player movements, crowd, audio and the presentation package make this look and feel like an actual televised match. The crowd and atmosphere are two of the most jaw dropping factors that make this game feel real. Scoring vital points causes the crowd to erupt like a volcano, depending if you are the home team. If you do that as the away team, then you won’t hear a thing. Also, if you are the away team and you are severely damaging the home team and lead by 20+ points, the crowd will slowly deplete as they have chosen to go home instead of watch their beloved team suffer.
The Audio is solid throughout. The crowd, court sounds and commentary are all stellar. The commentary doesn’t get repetitive and annoying half as fast as it does with most sports games. (I’m looking at you WWE 2K15…and Fifa….) The team go into plays and tactics in great detail that add such meaning to you pressing a different combination of buttons over and over again. 2K have added Shaquille O’Neal and Ernie Johnson to their presentation team to provide pre-match analysis. These are played over the loading screens, which is a fantastic idea as it makes them feel much shorter and purposeful.
EA and 2K included the same modes in their games, albeit with different names. So NBA Live and NBA 2K15 will be a head to head dogfight and it will all come down to presentation and gameplay. 2Ks answer to Ea’s popular Ultimate team is My Team. For anyone who hasn’t played either of these, players can build their dream team, by bidding on players and eventually creating a behemoth of an outfit. The mode is fun and does its job very well. The core experience is still the gameplay, which they have down pat. So adding a great virtual auction house was all they needed to do well, and they succeeded.
The GM mode is largely the same as it was in 2K14, but again, that’s not a bad thing. They have added new interactions with the team owner along with a few new menus. But nothing ground breaking. The My Career mode is the “be a pro” that EA offer on their sports games. Taking your created “rookie” and making him a star on the court. This mode is the stand out mode this year as the level of depth and the most immersive experience in this year’s iteration. The games multiplayer is always fun. Local play allows you to mock fallen friends live and lag free. The online, when it works, is solid, with a great ranking system to give a great sense of progression. The never-ending menus here are a little frustrating and a complete change from the core single player experience. When you do get into a game though, they are a lot of fun and can take hours of your life away.
EA will have their work cut out to top this experience in their Live franchise. This game is almost perfect from head to toe. The gameplay reigns king and is the priority at 2K. They have made sure that while improving that, however, that everything else has also seen suitable improvements. Everything is clean and polished and offers a level of presentation that is unprecedented in the sports game genre. Even world beaters like Fifa, pale in comparison to the sheer spectacle that is NBA 2K15.
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