NBA 2k15: Head and shoulders above the rest

While basketball might not be widely played in South Africa at least not at a level that gets massive sponsors, TV coverage and massive prize packages it continues to be arguably the most popular of the American sports here on the southern tip. Perhaps it is our fascination with American culture, or perhaps it is the massive amounts of fanfare and exposure that top basketball players get. Whatever the case may be, it’s surprisingly popular in a country that plays mainly rugby and cricket, and as such South Africa becomes a fairly fertile ground for games like 2K’s latest foray onto the court, NBA 2K15.

2K have, in many ways, grabbed true dominance when it comes to basketball games. Their only true rival in this arena is EA, but while that particular giant may dominate in things like football and golf, 2K has basketball sewn up. This shows in almost every aspect of NBA 2K15. And the most obvious place to spot it is in the looks. This game is truly beautiful, with fantastically smooth animations that will have you believing that you’re watching a real broadcast at times, rather than playing a game. That, combined with accurate character models which respond in ways that their real life counterparts would, makes for a visual feast. The presentation, too, using the TV style that surfaced in last year’s game, is equally excellent.

The controls are also great, with things like a power meter making a welcome appearance in the title. The AI has been beefed up a bit though, particularly defensively, and it will take some work to master this title.

In addition, certain game modes have been improved, too. The best example of these is the My Player mode. This time around, instead of being a top draft player, the actions starts out right at the bottom, and the player will need to guide their character through the ins and outs of a long career. Advice is also given to the player by real life team members of whatever team they represent. It’s a nice touch, even though basketball players aren’t really noted for their voice acting skills. Still, having a player that has taken you under their wing speak to you feels kind of special.

You can even map your face onto your player, if you have the right cameras attached to your hardware. But the face mapping generally results in monstrosities, so it’s probably best to just avoid it altogether.

While the franchise mode is very lacklustre this time out, the other mode that got a great treatment is MyGM. Everything from player Reponses to XP while simulating games has been reworked, resulting in a much more rewarding experience, should you wish to play the part of a team manager.

NBA 2K15 makes for a great single player experience. It's the online multiplayer aspect of the game that sees things go more than a little pear-shaped. Just like last year, 2K have managed to not deliver great servers as yet. This may change, with time, but for the moment, online multiplayer is best avoided, because it will lead to a lot of frustration thanks to lag, dropping and a host of other issues.

That doesn't break the game, though, and hopefully 2K will be able to get things ship-shape before too long. In the meantime, the excellent graphics, great control and sheer brilliance in recreating basketball in a digital format makes NBA 2k15 stand out among the crowd… pretty much like a real-life basketball player would.


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