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With the NBA season opening tonight, what better time to look at the latest entry in the NBA 2K series, NBA 2K15. This is the 2nd current gen NBA 2K, and the first current gen build to make its way to the PC, where we are reviewing it today. Is it as great as 2K Sports claims it is, or are we looking at a regression year for the perennial champs?

NBA 2K15 looks good, there’s no denying that, but it’s not as big a selling point as it was last year, because frankly we’ve seen it now. Furthermore, player models are a little too slender overall, and players with big hair (Elfrid Payton of the Magic, Anderson Varejao of the Cavaliers) look bad at a distance due to excessive pixilation on their ‘fros. That’s a shame because the player faces, uniform textures, courts and arenas all look great, and the animations are some of the best I have seen in a sports title.

NBA 2K15

Welcome home, LeBron

Player control is mostly spot on, particularly on offense. Ball control is effortless and the new shot meter below your player is not only easy to use, its location and design is very unobtrusive, making it easy to leave it on in case you need it without it driving you crazy. It makes learning the timing for different players shots a lot easier than in years past, which lessons the need to pick a player or team, master their timing, and stick with them. Dribbling feels great and for the first time I can remember, passing isn’t a crap shoot with the ball usually going to who you want to throw it to. You can run a variety of plays and your AI teammates usually do their job, cutting and getting open, but there are times where players will all bunch up and seem to move wherever you do. On multiple occasions in MyCAREER mode I have tried to give the ball handler room but he follows my every move, resulting in a positioning mess.

Defense is a little less smooth, and it is a little too easy to make one bad step and have the ball handler blow by you due to slow reaction times on defense. Player seem to, in general, move more slowly on defense, which means that positioning is key and gambling is punished. A complaint of mine from NBA 2K14 returns in that it seems far too difficult to block shots around the rim, but almost too easy at midrange and the perimeter, which strikes me as the inverse of what it should be. As on offense, your AI teammates are largely better than in years past.

NBA 2K15

James Harden skips defense and orders a soda from the sidelines

Of the various modes in NBA 2K15 (MyLEAGUE, MyGM, MyTEAM, MyCAREER), I put most of my time into MyCAREER. MyLEAGUE is a highly customizable full season mode, while MyGM puts you in the shoes of the general manager (shocker, I know) with the goal of making the owner , team, media, and players happy all while winning games, which is a headache I didn’t appreciate, regardless of the RPG elements involved. MyTEAM is a card-based fantasy league akin to Madden’s Ultimate Team. MyCAREER has you creating a player and taking them through their career (again, big shock), from undrafted to whatever their fate (and your skill at the game) holds for them. You start out pretty crappy, skill-wise, and the average player will take some good lumps trying to make a dent, unless they lower the difficulty to Rookie, which brings up a balancing issue I have. Pro is the normal difficulty, and on Pro the teams play smart and give you a good game, but your starting abilities are so low that you won’t be able to contribute much. If you lower the difficulty just one level to Rookie, the game becomes a joke, with your low-skill player running off 20-30+ point games like an all-star and your team going undefeated. What I’m saying is that there could stand to be some more granularity here. While I understand that my avatar went undrafted for a reason, I didn’t buy Bench Riding Simulator 2K15.

My largest complain is that, on PC at least, it has been impossible to get into a MyPARK online match. In dozens of attempts, at all hours of the day, I have seen two people in the mode. Not two people at a time, two people total. That’s really sad, since I was looking forward to trying that out. I hear that the console courts are more populated, so apparently it’s just the PC version with this issue.

In the end, NBA 2K15 is a very good NBA game, one of the best yet released, but I can’t help but think that it could be better. All in all this is a very good basketball game and one that every NBA fan should own. I would probably suggest the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 versions if you are interested in online play in the MyPARK mode, but overall NBA 2K15 is more than worth your time.

Final Score

8.5

Pluses:

Minuses:

+ Visually impressive

+ Spot-on controls

+ Great gameplay

+ Lots of modes

– Minor graphical glitches

– Small PC online community

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