We are not just talking about the number of athletes reproduced to perfection, such as Harden and his beard or Davies and his eyebrows, but how they move, push and run all over the parquet. From the gameplay point of view, in fact, NBA 2K15 is perhaps the most obvious improvement that the series has made in recent years. Let’s be clear, the game formula is always the same but the improvements allowed by the new computing power of Xbox One and PS4 has allowed Visual Concepts to totally rewrite the game, eliminating or smoothing all the limitations that emerged in the last chapter.
In a nutshell, never like this year does one have the impression of having complete control of one’s basketball player, moving him precisely throughout the field. Do you want to replicate Ray Allen’s threesome in the 2013 Finals? In NBA 2K15 it will be quite simple, given that thanks to the many new animations the athletes will have a much wider repertoire of movements. It seems a trivial thing but now that the basketball players can take even shorter steps everything is more precise, since you can easily adjust the position of a shooter so that he can escape a defender’s marking or position himself behind the three-point line .
Not only that, many animations have been added to better describe the contacts, especially from the defender’s side. You will have more ways to stop and steal the ball but also to block. This translates into much more fluid and dynamic gameplay, in which you will rarely get stuck in an opponent and, if this should happen, it is because the latter is cutting you off the rebound. Defending therefore becomes much more complex because you can no longer block the opponent by pressing L2 and follow him throughout the field. The various Weestbrook, Parker or Paul will escape from all sides and you will therefore have to be good, as in reality, to be able to read and anticipate their movements by closing the passage lines or the corridors towards the basket. Do not be surprised if everything will often be in vain but this is also part of the NBA.
Visual Concepts has worked hard to improve the visual feedback of the game, so you can immediately understand why you have scored a certain basket or not. This attempt is also understood by the new shot indicator, a fundamental tool to help you find the right timing in releasing the ball.
In recent editions, in fact, to learn to score with Shawn Marion or Kobe Bryant, two basketball players with very different mechanics, it was necessary to carefully watch their shooting animation before understanding when to release. In NBA 2K15 , however, at the foot of the basketball player there will be a comfortable bar that will load when shooting. Stopping it in the center of the semicircle will always make a basket, while the further you will move away from the focal point, the lower the success rate.
Obviously the speed with which the bar will load will depend on the pressure of the defenders, the difficulty of the shot (in transition or with the feet on the ground) and the shooter’s statistics. However, it remains a phenomenal tool to understand when to shoot even if it is the first time that you take a certain team in hand, and above all, to improve.
In addition to the physical and graphic aspect of the game, enormous progress has been made also in terms of artificial intelligence. Now the teams move in a credible way and every single opponent, even at the lower difficulty levels, will play intelligently, punishing the too reckless doublings with a pass in or a stoppage out of time with a penetration.
The main athletes, moreover, will have a set of personalized moves and animations. Howard under the basket will use a lot of the pivot foot to deceive long opponents, Marc Gasol will use his size and his vision of the game to invent something from the post, while Harden will always try his penetrations with contact.
The matches will therefore be tight, spectacular to play and to see, also thanks to an overall improvement in the presentation, the reintroduction of the mascots and cheerleaders and a general improvement in the performance of each stadium. The directorial cut is what you can see on American networks and the abundance of speeches, splits and presentations is amazing. You can still deactivate everything and only enjoy the game.
From this year you can also enjoy a well-made pre-game signed by Shaquille O’Neil and Earnie Johnson. It is surprising that with this great attention to detail they have not replaced Steve Kerr with another commentator, since it is strange to hear him comment on a game of the Warriors and in the meantime see him also do the Head Coach.
Last edition was introduced a narrative style MyPlayer mode but it is this year that Visual Concepts has made it an accomplished project. It will not only be about creating and developing the career of a perfect stranger until reaching the Hall of Fame but of living a discreetly narrated story related to the NBA, behind the scenes and to the expectations that every athlete has once entered the league . This time you will not be a promise from the Draft who will have to fight only to understand at what point of the first round it will be called, but you will be a player who was not chosen at the beginning of the year and is looking for a 10-day contract thanks to the which to change everyone’s mind.
The news is not limited only to the narrative aspect, where the NBA is no longer described as a completely positive universe, but a place where GMs are unfriendly, grumpy coaches and carrion agents, but also to the structural one.
Let’s start with the fact that this year you will have dozens of more options to customize your alter ego. Facial scanning has been introduced via PS Camera or Kinect 2.0, which seems to give some problems but which should allow you to apply your photo on your player’s face. In any case, you can change every single feature of your athlete’s face by raising or lowering the nose, mouth or ears. The result is much more realistic than last year and with a little work you won’t notice a big change between your player and those made by 2K.
The management of matches and training has also been completely revised. Now you can no longer spend Virtual Currency for each single statistic but you will invest in one of the six proposed blocks (shots from below, in suspension, athletics, defense, rebound and playmaking).
This decision on the one hand limits the freedom of everyone (for example we would have liked to improve our free-kick center but it was not possible to do it without also increasing his general skills as a shooter), but on the other hand it allows you to create a more balanced athlete and credible, preventing unrealistic twists like a foolproof three-point guard but unable to put on a meter jumper.
The management of the cards (or of the enhancements that improve the performance of your athlete) and of the games has also been made more intuitive, thus simplifying career advancement without necessarily having to follow every single aspect of the game.
On the parquet the MyPlayer mode knows how to evaluate your game in a much better way, rewarding both the winning actions and the correct execution of a pattern. In addition, the coach will no longer give you crazy directives (such as winning a compromised match on your first appearance on the parquet), but will ask you to perform certain movements during the game, such as always throwing yourself on the counterattack or being aggressive at rebound.
Given the great importance of the narrative part, we are happy to see that every single dialogue has been dubbed. 2K has involved a large number of NBA athletes so that each franchise has at least one teammate with whom to build a relationship of trust. The quality of the acting is fluctuating since it is not mandatory for an NBA superstar to also be a great actor, but the overall result is certainly better than last year.
The MyPark mode has been redesigned, tripling the number of fields available, eight for each faction, so as to make the wait faster before taking the field. In addition, you can also decide to abandon the playground and go to the Jordan Rec Center, a place (always virtual) where there are four regulatory fields to wait for the players for 5vs5 games with NBA rules. The other big news is the mode called NBA 2KTV, which should become the heart of the game with daily updates, competitions to win Virtual Currency, exclusive videos and interviews, and much more.
The remaining modes have not undergone major changes. MyLeague will allow you to create the league of your dreams, modifying every minimum aspect starting from the participating teams. Have you ever wondered how Armani Jeans would do in the NBA? Well, you could find out by inserting this or other Euroleague teams in the MyLeague, perhaps together with the Magic Lakers or the Jordan Bulls.
MyGM will instead allow you to take on the role of an NBA executive. To achieve the objectives you will have to deal with the basketball players, with the coach but also with the president. The system of dialogues has improved, making all the bargaining phases even more satisfactory and not of the individual interludes between one operation and the next.
A modern GM must deal with all aspects of his franchise and therefore you will have to check that the media does not become too pervasive or that the social interactions of your stars become destabilizing, so that nothing disturbs the team’s morale.
Finally MyTeam tries season after season to replicate the success of FIFA (or Madden or NHL) Ultimate Team. In other words you will have to assemble the team of your dreams by putting together athletes from all over the league, buying them through auctions (new this year) or looking for them inside the envelopes.
The methods to collect new credits have increased and they go from the now classic open the wallet to use virtual money, to the new challenges, that is single player scenarios in which you will relive the moments “What if?”. What would Trail Blazers look like if they chose Durant on the first round of the Draft? Or what if the Lakers had kept Shaq? It doesn’t matter, because what you have to do is earn credits to unlock new cards!
Perhaps the only aspect on which NBA 2K15 has not achieved the desired improvements is from the point of view of online, because for a game of this caliber the servers and infrastructure are still a bit fragile. After the initial problems, Visual Concepts brought the situation back to normal but without a stable internet connection many of the modalities described above may not be active or slow down. In the last few hours the game has been stable and the netcode is sufficiently performing to guarantee a good online experience, but the service that EA Sports offers online remains unmatched.
A small note of demerit also goes for the Euroleague teams. We have noticed marked improvements in the rendering of the faces of many athletes, especially Americans, but the formations are those of last year. We are not talking only of Langford still in Milan but mainly of the presence of Mens Sana Siena, a company that went bankrupt last year and which now plays in Serie B. We hope to update the game soon.
Finally, in NBA 2K15 the collaboration with Pharrel Williams is shown and in fact the American artist has proved to be much more multifaceted than LeBron James and JayZ. The songs chosen range a lot in genres and sounds but are united by a great catchiness.
With NBA 2K15 Visual Concepts has therefore made a new center, developing a game that is phenomenal on the parquet for fluidity, precision and realism, and that off the pitch could keep you busy for a long time. MyPlayer is even more fun than usual, since you will have complete control of your athlete, who will be rewarded based on his performance, without forcing.
Those looking for more classic modes can choose whether to be a GM, a coach or a collector of stickers with a MyTeam increasingly similar to FIFA Ultimate Team (and that’s good). And if all this were not enough, maybe you could consider the game even just to show it to those friends and relatives still skeptical in front of the huge expense that you have incurred to buy the “next-gen”. In NBA 2K15 1080p and 60 frames are guaranteed and photorealism is really one step away.
Still a little bit of optimization on game servers and it will be difficult to ask for more.