The NBA season is rapidly approaching and developer Visual Concepts has just released their latest addition to the NBA 2K series. With no real competition for a couple of years, 2K did a great job with both NBA 2K13 and NBA 2k14,with a slight downward trend from one to the other. We gave 2K13 a solid 9 while 2K14 dropped by half a point to 8.5. With no competition to push the developers to really add something new other than a few bells and whistles, they seemed content to push out a game that seemed like not much more than a roster update. The graphics for both 2K13 and 2K14 were great on the ps3, while the somewhat updated graphics could have been better for the PlayStaton 4 version of 2K14.
NBA 2K15 seems to continue with the downward trend of the series. 2K15 suffers from a common problem with multi-platform and multi-generational games, in that it has a varying graphical quality across platforms. The game still looks great on the PS3 but looks the same as 2K14 on the PS4, possibly even a little worse. I ran into an issue with Sacramento King point guard Darren Collison where his throat seems to be cut and his head oddly misshapen. The first time I saw it I thought it was a glitch but after several games with him on the court, this has been repeated every time he gets to the free throw line. I’ve also noticed this same thing with other players who have the same skin tone as Collison, so it isn’t specific to him, just specific to his skin tone.
To a lot of folks graphics aren’t the most important aspect of a game, and I will say the frame rate for 2K15 is good enough that gameplay is smooth and looks pretty good from a distance. Free throws and close-ups are where you’ll start to notice these flaws in the game. By no means is the game broken, it just seems to be a victim of having so many consoles on the market.
One of the bright spots for NBA 2K15 is the MyCareer mode, but before we get into that, we have to take a look at the new face mapping software. Several games in the past have given you the chance to take an image of yourself and then have that image rendered into 3D and added to a game title. 2K15 brings that feature to the PS4 and, if you are patient and follow directions, you can create a player that has a decent resemblance to yourself. If you try to do this in a hurry, the results would make a pretty good Halloween mask. 2K included a face scanning guide with their review materials and, while following the in-depth guide, I was able to create a somewhat familiar face, even though he has more hair than me. I have uploaded the guide and it can be viewed here. I could have made him more true to life, but what 20-year old kid has a receding hairline and a balding head?
Once you’ve created your player, choosing your position, height, weight, college, etc., you can start the MyCareer mode. You’ll enter the Rookie Showcase and, depending on how well you’re graded, you’ll either get drafted or wait for your agent to find you a 10-day contract. I tried several times with several new games to get drafted but it never worked out for me and I kept having to wait for my agent (who is on the outs with his agency and you are his last hope in the business) to find me that 10-day contract.
The grading system is on an A to F scale and you’ll start out as a C level player. For each positive thing you do on the court (points made, rebounds, blocks, steals, etc.) your grade will get a bump up the level. On the flip side, for every bad thing you do (allowing your man to score, making bad shots, three-second violations, turnovers, etc.) you’ll get bumped down the scale. The game feels like it wants you to fail early on in order to hash out a storyline that feels forced at times, but can be entertaining at others. There is an actual Trophy for being dropped by a team after a ten day contract expires so, again, it feels like the game wants you to fail early on, possibly to better appreciate success later in your career or possibly just as a reality check for your player.
NBA 2K15 Review – Get Benched
Once you’re on a team, a veteran player will come along and take you under his wing. With the Kings, the player was DeMarcus Cousins and he not only welcomed me to the team, but gave some veteran advice, albeit a little cliche-filled. Interactions between you, the press, other players, and coaches give you the opportunity to make decisions in the conversation that can make you look either humble or egotistical, and can help you either create or destroy a fan base.
The depth of MyCareer is a welcome addition to an NBA title, but is not without its flaws. At one point, after a close loss where my guy had little playing time off the bench, Cousins confronted me in the tunnel after the game and ripped into me for not passing him the rock enough. I wanted to say, “dude. I was only on the floor for six minutes and only had eight touches. WTH?” The confrontation even made it to the Twitterverse. It completely felt forced and took away from the overall feeling of the story.
The player Upgrade system is also another great aspect of the MyCareer mode. As you play the game, across all modes, you’ll earn Virtual Currency (VC). This currency can be used to upgrade your player’s attributes across every aspect of his game. Jump shots, speed, defense, rebounds. If you really want your player to be one of the elite NBA ballers, these attributes are the key to success. You’ll have to earn a ton of VC in order to reach the max in each category, but you’ll notice the upgrades in-game once you’ve purchased them.VC can be earned playing a quick game as well, so playing quick games or daily match-ups are a great way to help your player reach the next level.
You can also purchase game boosts for each attribute, and how long they’ll last depends on how much VC you are willing and able to spend. 200VC will give you a one game boost but 7,000VC will give you a 50 game boost. That could be the difference between the playoffs or the couch for your team, so don’t hesitate to spend if you have the chance to help out your team down the stretch.
Included under the MyCareer mode is MyPark. Here you can take your player, the same one that is playing in the NBA, and step out of the arena and onto the hard-top of a local basketball park. You’ll pledge your loyalty to one of three affiliations: The Old Town Flyers, the Sunset Beach Ballers or the Rivet City Rough Riders. Each has its own eight-court home park and unique style of basketball, emphasized by slight boosts to various aspects of your game. Game boosts purchased while in MyCareer will be consumed when playing in MyPark so be sure to keep that in mind. If you’d rather not play street ball, head over to the Jordan Rec Center, which features four full-sized courts and five-minute quarters of 5v5, NBA rules basketball.
MyPark mode is another nice addition to the series where you can join up with friends and form a squad with their created players. If everyone has used the face scanner, you may actually recognize the faces you are playing with. Your MyPark Rep is your overall grade from MyPark games and rates not only rates your skills as a shooter, but also includes how well you play as a teammate. Taking a tough, inside shot might be worth less rep points than a pass to an unguarded guy on the outside. Team work should be key to a successful game plan and execution, and 2K15 rewards you accordingly.
2K15’s other modes include MyGM, MyLeague, and MyTeam. MyGM will put you in control of an NBA Team (with the option to purchase it once you have enough VC) where you’ll have to interact with players, coaches, scouts, and of course the owner. Earning experience points by not only winning, but by setting up a proper game plan will keep you busy for some time to come. MyLeague will allow you to take control of either a single season or up to an 80 year franchise experience, with complete control over areas such as custom roster, season length, chemistry, injury effects, draft class quality, etc. You can assert control on several areas that make the NBA unique, while becoming immersed in the overall behind-the-scenes action and oversight of the NBA.
MyTeam is a trading card based game mode where you’ll try to build the best team possible (maybe best ever?) using player cards from every era of basketball. Greats from long ago can be matched up with greats from the here and now to create a dream team that just might be unbeatable. The new Auction house might be the best place to pick up one of the greats you are looking for, or maybe you have a great you aren’t all that impressed by. Either way, just purchasing or earning packs aren’t your only options this time around.
Developer Visual Concepts added a few new things to NBA 2K15, but seem to be relying mostly on a fanbase that they hope is content with what they brought out with 2K13 and 2K14. The removal of any real tutorial was a bit of a surprise, as that was an in depth on-boarding feature that not only taught you the intricacies of the controls, but also helped to sharpen your skills on some of the harder to pull off moves. The moves are the same as 2K14, though, so going back and playing tutorials in that edition does help some.
While NBA 2K15 is not perfect, it’s still a playable NBA game that does a lot of things well.
Review copy was provided by the publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.