6ft5”, brown hair, fair skin, lean … ish. No I’m not describing my Tinder profile, I’m talking about my custom created character in NBA 2K15. I’ve not played a lot of NBA computer games, nor do I claim to be a basketball connoisseur. However I do like to dip in and out of American sports so when NBA 2K15 swished onto my Xbox One I was looking forward to a change of sport scenery from the usual FIFA.
I always think it’s difficult for sports games to have you engrossed in some sort of story mode. Particularly where there is only so much depth you can add to a sport’s story mode. NBA 2K15 does try though, and by all means I’m fairly impressed. However don’t get too excited and expect a riveting story that will have you riding a rollercoaster of emotions. Far from it, but I have and I’m continuing to enjoy the MyCareer mode where you step into the shoes of your custom created wannabe NBA star.
Playing as one player is not a new thing for sports games; although with NBA 2K15 they have upped the standard. Once you’ve customised your player to resemble something like you – everyone spends time doing that right? You’re thrown straight into some story cut-scenes which play out what’s just happened. In the game’s first major twist you haven’t even made the NBA draft, meaning you’re sitting on the free agent list waiting for teams to give you a ten day trial. Impress them enough and you might just be lucky enough to sign with that team for the remainder of the season.
In each game you play you are marked on a scorecard basis. Play well by making well timed passes, shots and interceptions and your game score will increase. Do the opposite and you’ll get ridiculed by the fans and your team mates, most likely on social media which plays a big part of the story. It then plays out from there with numerous cut-scenes along the way which really give you a personal attachment to the game as you try and carve out your NBA career. The only real downside is the length of loading time it takes between each cut-scene. Maybe I’m just expecting too much from the Xbox One already, but even with the time it takes they should have put something on the screen, like player stats or basketball facts, to appease the brain.
MyGM is another mode worthy of a mention and whilst MyCareer puts you into the shoes of one player, MyGM puts you into the shoes of a franchise General Manager. From here you’ll have to not only guide your selected team to the play-offs and NBA Championship glory, but also take care of the teams financials, size of the teams car park for its fans and even the price of a hot-dog. It’s quite an immersive mode and will certainly give you plenty to do offline. Prior to each game you’re also greeted by the pre-game show team of Ernie Johnson and the main man himself, Shaquille O’Neal. The duo provide a comical yet topical look at the game ahead which also provides a welcome distraction from the game loading time; something that would have been good in the MyCareer mode.
Away from the two main and in my opinion best game modes, NBA 2K15 features a FIFA like ultimate team card collecting game where you can assemble your team from a variety of different players. The UI for this mode is a little clumsy and it can take you a long time to get the team you actually want, but it’s another game mode to keep you busy nevertheless. Of course if you wish to fast-track your progress you can do so with in-game coin purchasing.
Once you’ve had your share of offline spoils, of which there’s plenty, you can take your skills online. Online isn’t that inspiring with seemingly only online matches and an invitational league system you can play with your friends available. So unless you have lots of friends who also play the game, it’s online matches for you. There is an All-Star Team-Up game mode which appears broken for me as I quite simply couldn’t get a game whereas in online exhibition mode I could.
Gameplay wise 2K15 is fluent and rather satisfying, particularly when you throw a good shot or set up a teammate with an alley-oop. There’s a shot meter which allows you to see when the shot is on and, more importantly, it lets you see you why you missed a shot; either by releasing too early or holding on for too long. Defending can be tough to master and one that I am still trying to master myself, but you can get physical with your opponents by getting in their faces and making it difficult for them to run straight at the hoop for an easy two points.
Without a doubt NBA 2K15 looks stunning and it really is a promising sign of what’s to come on the Xbox One. Player visuals are superb with even the beads of sweat dripping down after and during a gruelling encounter. The atmosphere around each game is electric with bright flashing lights everywhere and there are even cheerleaders to entertain the crowd during the quarters. The visuals are suitable accompanied by the audio within the game. Not only is there a heaving hitting soundtrack with the likes of Pharrell, Snoop Dogg, Depeche Mode and One Republic, the commentators are not irritating and the crowd reaction to scores only add to the excitement of the on court action.
Overall NBA 2K15 is an excellent basketball game that should be in any basketball fan’s game collection. There is a bucket load to do offline that makes it a worthy purchase for that alone. The online needs some work and a little tender loving care, but if you’ve got some friends who also play, then great. NBA 2K15 shoots three points in my book; it looks really good, it plays really good and those are two impressive traits to have within any game irrelevant of genre.