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March 1, 2015 / Jett

NBA 2K15 Review

Aside from Madden, the NBA 2K dynasty is one of the most impressive in video game sports series. They’ve been so dominant that EA Sports went as far as to cancel two years worth of of their basketball games that they felt couldn’t hold their own against the champ. Last year, 2K14 got a graphical shot in the arm thanks to the transition over to the more powerful hardware. Now that the sizzle of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 has cooled, is there enough in this year’s package to justify a return trip to the hardwood?

Compared to last year’s game, the visuals don’t appear to have changed much at all. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as 2K14 looked great. However, aside from some new animations and replay camera angles, the differences aren’t perceptible to me.

The on-court product also seems largely unchanged. On one hand, the hoops experience is still as good as it’s always been. You’re constantly rewarded or punished based on how well you’re able to play within a real defensive and offensive system. However, this also feels just like last year’s game with the exception of the shot meter. This year, when you take a shot, a meter fills up based on how long you hold the ball as you’re going up for a shot. In theory, it’s supposed to make the shooting more transparent, as you get visual indicators for how well you shot the ball. I actually found it more distracting than valuable, as I was taking my eyes off of the game and fixating on a meter each time I put up a shot.

As is customary with the 2K basketball series, modes include MyLeague, MyGM, NBA Today for quick matches, MyPlayer and the collectible card based MyTeam. Admittedly, I only really play MyPlayer and NBA Today when I have people over. Unlike most games where your created character is a hot-shot prospect, you start the game out as a player that just failed to get drafted.

The trick with that is that instead of being randomly assigned to a horrible team, you get the option to try out from a selection of teams. Some of these teams are actually really good, though you’re going to have to perform spectacularly for them to give you the time of day. Of course, I tried out for the Toronto Raptors first, but they cut me due to my poor tryout performance. I’d get cut a few more times before finally securing a spot on the Sacramento Kings.

After that though, the experience is largely the same. You move from game-to-game, earning VC that can be used to buy stat boosts, clothes, shoes and animations for your character. In between games, you’ll also get cutscenes at times of you dealing with your agent, teammates or management. Some of the voice acting is still horrible, but the scenes are written to be more humourous than serious, which is a welcome change.

One disappointing aspect to the game that didn’t appear in last year’s game are a number of technical issues. Load times between the menus and the games are excessively long. I also ran into a number of visual glitches during MyCareer cutscenes and bench scenes. During dialogue, lip movements would routinely go out of sync with their character models. There was one instance where Kevin Durant and Demarcus Cousins spent an entire cutscene nonsensically talking over each other. Most jarring are the instances when the camera goes into a first person perspective, but is positioned inside your character’s head. When this happens, you’ll see a mess of polygons cover the screen, and sometimes get a view of the action through your player’s open mouth.

NBA 2K15 is still a game that sucked up a ton of my time off the strength of its solid on-court gameplay. However, the jump between last year’s game and this was as short as I ever remember it being. Also, the technical hiccups that occur outside of the action are disappointing new additions. I’m not mad that I have it, but I think I’ll sit the next few out until they’re able to take this franchise to the next level.

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