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OS Scores Explained NBA 2K15 Overview (PS4)
Pros
Outstanding gameplay, stunning visuals, improved career mode offerings.
Cons
Awful servers, declining broadcast presentation, MyCAREER shortcomings.
Bottom Line
NBA 2K15 offers a rich, rewarding on-court experience that is wholly enjoyable when you can take the court which is sometimes.
7
out of 10
NBA 2K15 REVIEW

NBA 2K15 Review (PS4)

How exactly does someone review a game like NBA 2K15?

I spent almost a week wrestling with this question. I’m still not sure I know the answer, but I’m going to do my best to find it along the way.

NBA 2K15 plays the best basketball on the court of any video game I ever played. This fact stands in a stark contrast to the experience of actually trying to play a game in many of the modes. That part ranges from unplayable to, well, playable, but with a decent chance the game will freeze, drop or won’t count altogether, forcing you to relive the last 48 minutes (or so) all over again.


 

Gameplay

NBA 2K15 plays a sublime game of basketball. It delivers on the promise of last year’s entrance to this new console generation with a wonderful brand of basketball on the hardwood. The new shot meter makes a much bigger difference than I expected. Rather than turning jump shots into a game of pure timing skill, it places a premium on shot selection and balanced footwork. Even good timing won’t save you if you have a penchant for jacking up contested fadeaway jumpers. The variety in form and release between different players’ shots means it will take you practice and experience to reach something resembling mastery. You will probably want to stick with a couple of teams at first and learn their players’ shots.

The game offers more reasons to want to stick with a one or two teams when you start playing. Simply put, NBA 2K got a lot smarter. You can see Da_Czar’s fingerprints on it. The introduction of freelance offenses and improved AI make playing with and against each team a more unique experience. I found myself unable to easily jump between using different teams because of the differences in schemes and personnel. 

As I discussed in my initial NBA 2K15 impressions, AI opponents play more like their real-life selves than ever. The Rockets highlight Dwight Howard and James Harden in their offense with an array of Howard post-ups and Harden isolations and pick-and-rolls. Teams with good outside shooting look to use it to their advantage, while spacing-challenged teams focus more on other means of scoring.

I still haven’t gotten used to selecting plays from the D-pad. It feels awkward to use both hands in this way, and now that plays are grouped by play type, it takes extra time sometimes to navigate to the one I want. Similarly, it’s hard to walk the ball up the court with your point guard thanks to a weird bit of control responsiveness, though Gameplay Director Mike Wang promised to try to get a fix into the first patch.

Passing, defense, and rebounding feel more refined, though the latter may be a little too heavily weighted toward offensive rebounding out of the box. The controls feel responsive to me, especially passing. In years past, I commonly committed turnovers by accidentally passing to the wrong player, which almost never happens to me in NBA 2K15, an improvement I haven’t seen discussed often enough. This improvement, coupled with the revised pick-and-roll controls, make the pick-and-roll a deadly part of your offensive arsenal, as it should be. Playing defense has become more fun than ever due to improved responsiveness with the controls and animations.

I wish I had more space in this review to discuss all the aspects of the gameplay I enjoy, but I don’t want to make my editor too sad, and I do have the next 12 months to write to my heart's content.


 

Presentation

Fellow OS writer Ben Vollmer wrote recently about how he thinks NBA 2K15’s presentation is still the best. I respectfully disagree, though I appreciate 2K’s effort. Let me explain.

NBA 2K15 adds TNT favorites Ernie Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal to host a new pre-game show. They set the stage capably, as Shaq often tells a story about one of the upcoming game’s star players to create a narrative for what is to come. I wonder how well this pre-game show will age, as we play this game for the better part of the next year. I fear it will quickly become repetitive — but it’s a good start and it works well.

Player introductions return to the series for the first time in roughly a decade. Despite occasional pixelation involving spotlights, the lineup introductions build on the anticipation created by the pre-game show. The pre-game presentation passes the baton to the in-game broadcast team, but they stumble. The game jumps abruptly from player introductions to tip-off, without the commentators doing much to introduce the occasion. It's a design decision which hurts the game’s flow and immersion.

I hesitate to lay the blame on the development team. NBA 2K15 announcer Steve Kerr took the Warriors’ coaching job in late-May — likely too late for the 2K team to make any major changes to the broadcast cast. It feels like the 2K team tuned down Kerr’s commentary contributions as a compromise. Plus, former halftime presenter Damon Bruce, possibly due to circumstances having nothing to do with 2K, did not reprise his role in this year’s game.Kerr’s apparently reduced commentating and Bruce’s absence lead to noticeable silence throughout significant portions of the game, particularly during a now-quiet halftime show that shows stats but no highlights. And frankly, it does feel weird having Kerr on the commentary team while coaching the Warriors.

Furthermore, in-game statistical overlays — such as standings, league leaders, etc. — don’t seem to display regularly. At times during stoppages, the broadcasters reference information as if it is displayed on the screen, but no such overlay appears. Similar issues exist with the post-game Player of the Game, at least on PS4. Maybe it’s a bug that will be patched?

Player models and crowds took a meaningful step forward in this year’s game, which is to say the visuals are even more stunningly beautiful. The crowd reacts more appropriately than ever to big moments, and people file out early when the game’s outcome becomes inevitable.

Overall, the pre-game additions and the excellent basketball visuals help create a reasonably immersive experience, though presentation shortcomings in-game pull you out of that experience to a disappointing degree.


 

Online

"Oh boy.

The 2K servers are at it again, or it might be Sony and its PlayStation 4. When I’m not consistently connected to a very high-speed Internet (which has been my life the last few days), I can’t play much of anything in 2K. I can’t access MyCAREER or My GM because the 2K servers time out. That leaves you with nothing but Quick Game against the CPU, which has also been reported to not work well offline.

One feature that I was never able to access was The Park. The Park allows you to take your My Player to a giant playground with up to another 99 My Players. Here, you get to have pick-up games by choosing “who’s got next?” I’m not sure how much time I will spend here, because I’m curious to see if there is going to be any lasting appeal. It’s in wait-and-see mode."


Do those words sound vaguely familiar? They should. Dustin Toms wrote them last year in reviewing NBA 2K14. I lack the patience or words to describe exactly which modes work regularly and which don’t — and by the time you read this review, what works and what doesn’t will probably have changed anyway.

As Dustin noted in last year’s review, The Park has the most server problems of any mode, often making it completely unplayable. I suggest browsing our NBA 2K forums for the latest information on which modes work and which don’t as it tends to change rapidly and from day to day.

The Park includes three different affiliations that vary based on style of play, as well as a new Rep system and the Jordan Rec Center for playing more sim-style basketball. However, server problems prevented me from spending any meaningful time enjoying these features as they’re intended to work.

MyTEAM offers a new mode called Challenges, which presents interesting scenarios that push you to try new lineup combinations with your MyTEAM. Domination mode still appeals to me the most, though I find it frustrating that the MyTEAM Points system unfairly penalizes me for favoring a patient offensive style. It commonly leads me to repeat games because though I won convincingly, I didn’t accumulate enough counting stats due to playing a below-average number of possessions.

Online leagues return in NBA 2K15, though the server problems and missing features hurt its usability, as our forums detail.


 

Career Modes

Before I get into the specific career modes, I want to joyously point out the role of Virtual Currency in NBA 2K15 is greatly diminished compared to last year’s frustrating NBA 2K14 VC experience. Hallelujah!

Now, on to the modes.

Jayson Young took a good look at MyCAREER mode, which features a rewritten story, putting you as an undrafted rookie trying to claw your way into the NBA. I enjoy NBA 2K15’s fresh take on this story and I expect to continue playing this mode throughout the next year — when the servers permit, of course. I particularly like how improving your player’s attributes now comes down to investing in different “buckets” of skills, such as playmaking, inside scoring, and defending. It feels more intuitive than being bombarded with dozens of different ratings that need improving.

MyCAREER mode now includes veteran teammates — complete with voice acting from the players — to guide you on your NBA journey. But those interactions revolve around storylines that feel contrived and dialogue more closely resembling cliche-laden press conferences than intimate conversations among teammates.

I also find it puzzling that 2K went the extra mile by adding face scanning and an additional voice option, but neglected to give you enough freedom for your MyPLAYER to even vaguely reflect your personality and manner of speaking. The character is often disrespectful, arrogant, and flat out unlikable. Why would I want to put my face on this person? While I like the mode as a whole, this incongruence is a sore spot.

On the flip side, MyGM mode’s improved conversation engine gives you more freedom in your responses. This variety lends you more control over the relationships you have with your owner, staff, players, and more. And as I mentioned, you don’t need VC to do things like set lineups. In another bit of VC good news, you now earn VC while simming in MyGM. If you liked MyGM last year aside from the VC issues, you should feel quite pleased with the mode in NBA 2K15.

The trade logic still feels off to me in MyGM and the new MyLEAGUE mode. While not necessarily imbalanced, it feels like an obvious departure from reality because it doesn’t really take context into account as well as it could. A rebuilding team probably wouldn’t trade a promising young prospect for an above-average 32-year-old veteran on an expiring contract with no Bird Rights, even if those players have similar ratings. I’d like to see the trade logic consider an organization’s short-term and long-term plans in future editions without a doubt.

The overhauled prospect scouting stands out the most in MyGM and MyLEAGUE. From organic stats, social media, big boards, and mock drafts, you have more information than ever, and that data comes in throughout the season as it does in real life. It’s wonderfully envisioned and implemented. The 2K team should feel proud of their work with it.


 

Final Thoughts

When I was in college, I had a friend with whom I had a lot of fun, memorable times. But he had a terrible flaw — he did a notoriously awful job answering and returning text messages and phone calls. When we hung out, it was great. But I often felt a lot of disappointment and frustration when we were apart because he made it so hard to get together. In the end, I could either just enjoy it when we did hang out, or drop the friendship. Maybe you know someone similar.

NBA 2K15 is like that person.

When you’re together on the court, the visuals, gameplay, and career modes ensure you have a great experience you enjoy and will remember. But in between those good times lie a barren wasteland of server problems in which you can not play large portions of the game.

If you can prepare yourself to endure frustration and disappointment — and find enjoyment in the finest basketball gaming to date when you do have the opportunity to — you need to pick up NBA 2K15 immediately. On the other hand, if those problems serve as a deal breaker for you, then you’ll want to skip this one until 2K Sports resolves the server problems.

Visuals: The NBA 2K series remains among the finest looking games on this new console generation.

Customization: A problem in last year’s debut on the new consoles, it took a big step forward this year, particularly with MyLEAGUE.

2KTV: At this stage, NBA2K TV looks like a positive introduction with interesting content, including player interviews and gameplay tips.

Responsiveness: Though some people on the forums have complained about input lag with the controls, I haven’t experienced any problems with control responsiveness. They seem about right to me.

Animations: Contact in the paint took a big step forward in NBA 2K15, making it easier to contest shots around the rim — and it looks gorgeous.

Defense: I touched on it briefly earlier. I want to say again I love playing defense — on-ball and off-ball — in NBA 2K15. The addition of new defensive settings goes a long way too.

Score: 7 (Good)

Scoring Note: A 7 (or Good) at Operation Sports signifies a game that is pretty good because it plays well, but that has notable flaws that keep it from being great. In NBA 2K15’s case, the server problems keep it from being more. As long as they continue, they will understandably ruin the game for some people, while frustrating a lot of others. Somewhere in here is a great game.


NBA 2K15 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 Cabish @ 10/13/14 04:45 PM
I was hard on visual concepts,I realize now all the games released this month have serious online problems,
 
# 2 Rockie_Fresh88 @ 10/13/14 04:47 PM
Great gameplay but this is on the money . Half of the game is unplayable . Get into a game get kicked eventually . It's a huge waste of time . You get no vc and even worse a lost at times
 
# 3 woodson312 @ 10/13/14 04:48 PM
input lag and billions of missed layups and overpowered offensive rebounds... this is the 1st time i have truly complained about 2k but dammit all i get is headaches from it. cant take it
 
# 4 MarkcusD @ 10/13/14 04:51 PM
Myplayer should not require online at all. I will never buy a game in this series as long as this is true.
 
# 5 "The Veal" @ 10/13/14 04:53 PM
I think the game can be summed up easily. Someone who plays offline, one-player-centric games (MyLEAGUE) and play the games versus the CPU (once finding a right balance) love it. People who play online hate it, and rightfully so. It's very divisive on the modes themselves, some are incredible, others are bad.
 
# 6 luda06 @ 10/13/14 04:56 PM
Awesome review.
 
# 7 Aquaman_OS @ 10/13/14 04:56 PM
Fair score!.. Good to see reviews not getting suckered in by all the flash...if modes aren't working they should be called out on it
 
# 8 Trackball @ 10/13/14 05:11 PM
Big deal.

One of my favorite games of all time got a 7.5 from Game Informer (Star Ocean: The Second Story).

Just one man's opinion.

Which is why you should all go out and buy Kabuki Warriors, Drake of the 99 Dragons, and Dalmatians 3 right now.

Don't listen to reviewers. Make your own decisions on what's good.

...

I really, really hope you can tell I'm not serious there...but really, why is this game focused so darn much on online? The servers will be dead in two years.

Meanwhile, I can pop in Super Mario Bros. 3 right now, and it will work exactly as it did in 1990.

No connection needed then.

No connection needed now.

Why are some developers--heck, so many OS users--so obsessed with online play?

What, do you just want single-player gaming to die?

Not everything is about playing with others. Yes, humans are social creatures, but sometimes we just want to be ALONE.

The core gameplay is awesome.

Question: Would you rather have a game that's smooth as silk online but plays like butt, or a game that plays wonderfully but can't connect to the Internet?

Here's a hint: The servers will be shut off someday. It's inevitable. Then what are you left with?

Or how about another example: People rip on the NES version of Double Dragon because, as beautifully as it played, as fun as it was, and as much butt the music kicked, you couldn't play the main game with two players at once.

The Sega Master System version, meanwhile, had really bad graphics, terrible music, highly questionable hit detection (in a beat-em-up!), and loads of flicker.

But hey, you could play two-player! Surely that makes up for ALL of the above, right?

The point is, some things are more important than online.

NOTE: Please don't take this as a personal attack. It's just always bugged me why some people are so heavily fixated on online play, when this game isn't always going to be online-capable. Ever play City of Heroes lately? Oh wait...
 
# 9 TheLetterZ @ 10/13/14 05:15 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trackball
Big deal.

One of my favorite games of all time got a 7.5 from Game Informer (Star Ocean: The Second Story).

Just one man's opinion.

Which is why you should all go out and buy Kabuki Warriors, Drake of the 99 Dragons, and Dalmatians 3 right now.

Don't listen to reviewers. Make your own decisions on what's good.
As I mentioned in the review, it was REALLY hard to write.

I — the reviewer — am mostly an offline gamer. I was probably never going to play The Park very much.

My goal with the review was to help inform people who are on the fence about buying the game. I hope such people can look beyond the score and read the entire review, because I intended for it to serve as a guide for their buying decision.

As for your comment, "Don't listen to reviewers. Make your own decisions on what's good." — I agree!

But I also understand that renting games isn't as easy as it used to be, and to a large extent you need to take the writing of people who have played the game a lot into consideration.
 
# 10 swac07 @ 10/13/14 05:18 PM
Ouch............Do I feel online shouldve took that much off the top of the score...Nope...but when you are touting online modes as your main selling point and the servers are poo...its warranted ..Great Review

Sent from my Illudium Q-36 Space Modulator using Tapatalk
 
# 11 Trackball @ 10/13/14 05:20 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLetterZ
As I mentioned in the review, it was REALLY hard to write.

I the reviewer am mostly an offline gamer. I was probably never going to play The Park very much.

My goal with the review was to help inform people who are on the fence about buying the game. I hope such people can look beyond the score and read the entire review, because I intended for it to serve as a guide for their buying decision.
Fair enough.

Thing is, a ton of people are going to see the score and nothing else. (I myself have fallen into this trap before.)

I'm starting to see why people like Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw refuse to give a numerical score to games. It's really, really hard to express a complex personal opinion through something as simple as a single number--which is one reason why sabermetric stats like Player Efficiency Rating still have their detractors.

I think it would've been best, in this case, to go the route others here have suggested: One score for offline, the other for online. But then again, I realize that's not how Operation Sports rolls.
 
# 12 TheLetterZ @ 10/13/14 05:25 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trackball
Fair enough.

Thing is, a ton of people are going to see the score and nothing else. (I myself have fallen into this trap before.)

I'm starting to see why people like Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw refuse to give a numerical score to games. It's really, really hard to express a complex personal opinion through something as simple as a single number--which is one reason why sabermetric stats like Player Efficiency Rating still have their detractors.

I think it would've been best, in this case, to go the route others here have suggested: One score for offline, the other for online. But then again, I realize that's not how Operation Sports rolls.
If people won't read it, there's nothing I can do. As you pointed out, you can't express something with a single number. People have to read.

(I completely agree about PER by the way.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeGSW
I don't get why reviewers rag on the servers so much... like they're never going to be sorted? LOL, about a month from now you're all going to have to go back and re-write your reviews. Enjoy the extra work.
I fully intend to revisit the review in the future when the servers are hopefully good. But it's my job to write about the game as it is now not to write about an imaginary future version of the game that may or may not happen.
 
# 13 TheLetterZ @ 10/13/14 05:31 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by swac07
Ouch............Do I feel online shouldve took that much off the top of the score...Nope...but when you are touting online modes as your main selling point and the servers are poo...its warranted ..

Sent from my Illudium Q-36 Space Modulator using Tapatalk
I can understand why it seems like my thought process was, "This game would be a 9 but the servers are bad so I'm going to dock 2 points," but that wasn't actually how I went about it.

I considered how my overall experience of the game was right now and compared it to Operation Sports's scoring scale.

When I did, I found that a 7 nailed it. "A game that is pretty good because it plays well, but that has notable flaws that keep it from being great."

It felt like the perfect summary of the game.
 
# 14 zrtelford @ 10/13/14 05:34 PM
agree completely. Maybe after a patch or two It would raise (if reviews did that) to an 8-8.5. the presentation glitches are an egregious oversight. How missing overlays and player of the game highlights show up 1 out of three times got through testing baffles me.
 
# 15 amedawg00 @ 10/13/14 05:36 PM
Thank you for acknowledging the gimped online leagues in 2k15. This review is spot on. For years, reviewers swept 2k's abysmal servers under the rug. This is the price you pay when you want to make your game modes online dependent without the proper infrastructure.
 
# 16 TheLetterZ @ 10/13/14 05:38 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by amedawg00
Thank you for acknowledging the gimped online leagues in 2k15. This review is spot on. For years, reviewers swept 2k's abysmal servers under the rug. This is the price you pay when you want to make your game modes online dependent without the proper infrastructure.
Thanks.

By the way, I find it enjoyably ironic that your avatar is of NBA League Pass Broadband, another service notorious for shoddy network infrastructure.
 
# 17 Bornindamecca @ 10/13/14 05:41 PM
Great write up. The developers and designers earned an 8.5 or a 9, but the technical staff and the executives who pay for them deserve a 1 for launch week.
 
# 18 JohnDoe8865 @ 10/13/14 05:42 PM
Excellent review of the game as it currently stands.
 
# 19 swac07 @ 10/13/14 05:42 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLetterZ
I can understand why it seems like my thought process was, "This game would be a 9 but the servers are bad so I'm going to dock 2 points," but that wasn't actually how I went about it.

I considered how my overall experience of the game was right now and compared it to Operation Sports's scoring scale.

When I did, I found that a 7 nailed it. "A game that is pretty good because it plays well, but that has notable flaws that keep it from being great."

It felt like the perfect summary of the game.
Oh yeah I understand...im. not mad at the review at all ...hopefully 2k will use this as a wakeup call

Sent from my Illudium Q-36 Space Modulator using Tapatalk
 
# 20 The 24th Letter @ 10/13/14 05:43 PM
Respect this review....I'm not a online player but it's unacceptable that online is in the condition its in....

Stop connecting modes to servers if the servers aren't up to par...this has been a horrible experience two years in a row for online guys...
 

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