The next installment of our Midterm Reviews focuses on the popular NBA 2K15. In this review we will tackle content, graphics and presentation, gameplay, fun factor, and longevity. The Midterm Grades give a more accurate representation of the overall quality of the game because we have had almost six months to play, explore, poke and prod this game and know it now better than anyone who gave the week one review. We will take an in depth look at each mode and I will offer some suggestions on possible fixes.

Content

SCORE: 6.5

MyLeague: MyLeague offers players the ability to fully customize from financial rules in trades to chance of career ending injury. This mode is a big step up from the previous installment but still could use some improvements on the simulation side of things. The ability to adjust sliders such as Trade Negotiation Difficulty and Career-Ending Injury Frequency is a nice addition but I still find it fairly easy to assemble a Super Team after a couple years. The mode has been a big step up but has room for improvements.

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MyGM offers players a plethora of options to control the franchise.

 

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Waiting in line upwards of 20 minutes to play a pick-up game should be eliminated.

MyGM: In MyGM you take the role of an NBA GM. This mode allows you to have the responsibilities of an NBA GM who can draft, sign, trade and cut players but who also can be fired as GM if his performance isn’t up to the teams standards after which the player is free to sign as GM with any team who wants to offer. Again in this mode I have found it a bit too easy to compile draft picks and sign almost any free agent if the team has the money. In the mode the player has meetings with coaches and players and while this is a cool concept in reality it takes up time with loading screens and sloppy menus.

MyCareer/MyPark: What used to be 2K’s pride and joy has descended into something that is a distant relative to its once great MyPlayer mode. In NBA 2K11 MyPlayer players could create unlimited, completely different MyPlayers and upgrade how ever they desired within the attribute caps, play quick matches online with up to 9 other user control players, matchmaking and the insanely popular Crew Mode. In 2K15 players create one avatar (MyPlayer) who is used in park and career but if you want to create another career the new player will have the same name and appearance as the last MyCareer. Instead of upgrading individual attributes in2K15 players are forced to dump VC into different upgrade groups which upgrade a handful of attributes at a time. Honestly I dont hate this idea but the reason it fails is because there are only SIX categories. Players cant upgrade Driving Layup without upgrading Post Control. To improve Shot Close you must also raise Shot Three. What if a user wants to create a slashing guard who isn’t a great three point shooter but can finish at the rim and has a nice mid range game? They have to waste VC to put into the attribute categories and raise his Shot Three and and increase his Post Hook just to raise his Mid range and Layup game. That is unacceptable and really limits players in what they can do with their MyCareers. If they expanded on this idea and perhaps had 20+ categories to invest in with different combos of attributes, the mode would be much better. Or just resort back to the individual upgrades, not sure what was wrong with that. The Upgrades cap they introduced in an attempt to limit players buying 99’s right away is a terrible idea which should be removed for next years edition. I can tell you right now exactly how to limit players from buying 99 overall players as the game comes out. REMOVE VC.

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Although a great concept, long loading times, glitches and poor game play rob this game mode of its potential

I know that will never happen but I dream of a game where its not pay to win but play to win. The Park is a complete disgrace. Long loading times just to get into a game then legitimately the worst possible matchmaking systems I have ever experienced. Once in the Park players must stand on glitchy circles next to an active court waiting for the game to finish. This results in waits for minimum 10 mins just to play one game. I don’t find playing at the Park worth my time. It is a novel concept which completely falls flat. If this system isn’t removed from the game next year than it is obvious 2K doesn’t listen to their fan base.

MyTeam: A fast growing, build your own team, mode with a dedicated fan base. Modeled after the widely successful EA “Ultimate Team” mode, this card collecting game allows players to create teams with players from any era of the NBA. For the first time this year 2K finally introduced a MyTeam Market to buy and sell cards and bringing an extra dimension to the game. Other than that I have very little positive to say about the mode. Limited modes and lack of ways to make in mode currency in MyTeam make it hard to enjoy. “Domination” pits you against every team in the NBA. Once a player beats a team a player from the defeated team is awarded. Domination was the most fun I had playing MyTeam mode but once completed players can not replay it meaning most haven’t touched the mode since completing it within the first weeks of 2Ks release. The online head to head mode, Road to the Playoffs, is the most played mode but once a player reaches the first seed there is little left to do in the mode. The Solo Challenges are laughable with only 46 challenges and most featuring lineup restrictions which force players to spend the in game mode currency, MT, on players to meet restrictions just to be able to participate.

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MyTeam, the card collecting game mode spawned off EA’s popular “Ultimate Team” has improved every year.

In the end I have still logged quite a bit of time in this mode so who am I to say its nothing special if I still put hours and hours into it, but bottom line this mode falls short in just about every aspect but is carried because of the great idea behind the mode and its untapped potential. This mode has become a huge money maker for 2K, now its time for them to invest that money back into the mode and provide high quality content. NBA 2K15 has plenty of modes to choose from which is nice and can keep things fresh for a while but the lack of depth and quality for each mode is the reason I gave a mediocre score.

Graphics and Presentation

SCORE: 8.5

Menu system in NBA 2K15 is a bit clunky but other than slow entering and exiting menu pages the menus are pretty crisp and easy to use. The presentation of the Main Menu is rough though. Every time a player boots up 2K they are greeted by the always annoying and never asked for 2KTV. Can’t be disabled or be muted,  this “feature” can be removed next year with no community backlash.

Game Presentation could use improvement but in general is pretty good. The much hyped Shaq and Ernie show falls flat because of lack of diversity in lines and sometimes the mouths move without any sound coming out. Its more flash than substance and quite forgettable. The loading screen menus are sharp and easy to use. During stoppages in play, in between quarters and halftime, 2K very cleverly integrates product placement by showing the scoring table which flashes Sprint and Gatorade adds that only last a few seconds but are unskippable. A big “New Feature” 2K was excited about at release was the all new Dance Girls. Every team has the exact same routine every game, not exact anything special and worth a hard skip every time.

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Graphics on Next Gen are best in class and can produce some beautiful screenshots.

The in game graphics in NBA 2K15 are quite impressive. Almost every face is recognizable and the court and lighting look great. If graphics are important to you then this game doesn’t disappoint on the court. Just off the court could use an improvement. The crowd is generally pretty average unless a big dunk happens. The crowd doesn’t have much life to it although the stadium does empty during an away team blow out which is a nice touch. In the end the on court graphics are excellent but there is always room for improvement. Despite NBA 2K15 providing arguably the best commentary in sports gaming the road ahead is still long. There hasn’t been any real update to the commentary for years and it seems they have “shifted into neutral” when it comes to commentary improvements.

Gameplay

SCORE: 7.5

After promising and advertising that this years game would eliminate a number of different “Cheeses”, aka gameplay exploits, none of those promises were realized except for the removal of the 1-3-1 zone for which we are all grateful. Zig Zag Cheese is just as good as ever, backcourt charges still get called at times, chucking 20+ threes a game is still an effective strategy, the baseline is a new-age teleportation device delivering any player with over 70 dunk or layup directly to the rim. Not only do these things still exist, they can be used more effectively than finding open shots. If it wasn’t for Patch 5 on PS4 bumping up the shooting percentages of open shots, (respect to 2K for grinding out that patch late into the development cycle) using exploits online would have became a better tactic than playing actual basketball. Hopefully XB1 players will get this patch soon.
Online gameplay is gonna need some serious work, we are still a long ways away in 2K where the better player will always win online. On the other hand, Offline gameplay is like a dream. The freelance Offense system in 2K has a steep learning curve; but if a user can incorporate this feature properly, authentic NBA action can be replicated at-will. The depth of the playbook system is also incredible. Plays in 2K can automatically branch out counters on their own and there are close to a hundred of these option plays in the game. It is really too bad 2K doesn’t offer any in depth instructions on how-to best use these features. Responsiveness of controls are also the best it has ever been; however, there’s still minor delay in control input during rebounding and lose ball situations.
Online gameplay is poor because there are too many opportunities and clear-cut incentives for using exploits. Offline gameplay, 2K15 is the best basketball ever. Depending what kind of gamer you are, 2K15 gameplay can make you feel two entirely different ways; and that’s honestly too bad, since this game plays so well offline.

Fun Factor

SCORE: 6.5

NBA 2K is a almost always a blast to play with a friend on the couch. With the full NBA and a decent selection of Historic teams, there are plenty of great matchups to be played. BlackTop is a fun way to try out a variety of players, I just wish there was an option for standard scoring not just the 1’s and 2’s. The servers for 2K are straight up garbage. For all the money they make from game sales and VC sales the consistency of the servers is pathetic. Often times players will have to keep restarting the game just to try and get a connection and since almost all modes function with VC those modes are unavailable to be played without an internet connection further restricting players ability to play the game they paid for because 2K cant connect. Lagging out is a regular occurrence in any online mode and input lag is almost to be expected. They need a serious upgrade in the server department considering they funnel every mode through the servers. I certainly have fun playing 2K but its a game of highs and lows. If the Fun Factor is 6.5 then the Frustration Level is an 8.

Longevity

SCORE: 8

With the numerous modes they offer NBA 2K15 can hold a players interest for a while. Sports games don’t really end so hours and hours of 2K can be played without feeling like you are completing the game. I love the NBA and my love of the NBA is stronger than my disappointment with the final product. I still play the game regularly six months after release so I cant say it isn’t worth the money but just know the more time a player invests in the game the more frustration will rise. 2K has the potential to put out a truly outstanding game but year after year fail to listen to the community, strip game modes and introduce features the community never asked for so they can market it as “New Features”. I am a bit harsh with the review because of the potential product they could realistically put out with all the money flooding into 2K via VC. It is certainly worth the purchase if you love the NBA but just be wary, the game is an equal source of fun and frustration.

Summary

While 2K is still the best NBA game on the market it has plenty of room to grow and improve. The lesson to be learned from this review is NBA 2K15 is the game is a double edged sword. I’ve had some great fun playing this game and great frustration. The Career mode is fun but can get stale after a while and the cut scenes get old fast. MyTeam is a great idea following in the Ultimate Team Model like EA introduced but the mode is still young and needs serious work although despite its flaws I play that mode the most. The MyGM and MyLeague improvements from 2K14 to 2K15 have been impressive and both modes have their strengths and weaknesses but in general I like the direction 2K is heading in regards to those modes. Park should be completely scratched and that’s all I have left to say about the mode. Graphics on NBA 2K15 are pretty great in terms of on the court look, some improvements needed but crowd detail wont make or break a game in my opinion. The game-play has plenty of flaws that need to be addressed, mainly exploitable moves that you just don’t see in the real NBA. I still play NBA 2K15 to this day so it may seem odd that I have given it not too favorable reviews but the game is still very much worth it I just know 2K has it in them to put out a better product.

FINAL SCORE: 7.4 out of 10

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Hopefully you enjoyed our Mid-Term NBA 2K15 Review, which took an updated look at this years game. Let us know in the comments below and on social media. Check in daily as we will continue this series of taking a second look at currently released sports games.