NBA 2K15 Review: A New Standard

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Developers: Visual Concepts

Publisher: 2K Sports

Platforms: PC, PS4 (Version Reviewed), Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS, Android

Release Date: October 7th

With any basketball game there are standards that the NBA 2K series has set for every single entry to live up to. The long and short of NBA 2K15 is that it stands up to industry standards and even creates some new ones along the way. There are avenues that it falls short, but for my money this has been the best entry in the NBA 2K series since NBA 2K12 refined the Michael Jordan center of NBA 2K11 and created maybe the most competent basketball atmosphere ever celebrating the past and present of the NBA.


It is an understatement to say the visuals in this game are exemplary. The early demo for the game that you can play as it finishes downloading gives you an early glance at the beauty of this game. The lights, the panning cameras, the cheerleaders, the mascots, the floating heads, the commentators, the introductions, and the haunting, all dark, panning profile National Anthem all encompass an atmosphere of the NBA that makes it so the end of October can’t come soon enough to see how it compares to the real thing. I get goose bumps before a MyCareer game starts sometimes it feels so eerily close to what it feels like to actually be in the starting lineup. There’s nothing like those jitters and you can see it come through the facial expressions of players as a young lady’s voice provides the backdrop.

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Before you even make it to the court for a regular game there is a segment from Ernie and Shaq, notable for their involvement in the NBA broadcasts on TNT, who give a breakdown of each team and a notable player from each. It’s pretty cool to have this feature in the game. It gives you a good amount of time to go grab something to drink or snack on while you play the same way you would while watching a real game and the pre-game show is on. Ultimately, it’s a bit of window dressing, but it keeps you immersed in this big NBA dollhouse Visual Concepts has set up.

Your MyPlayer telling the arena it’s “My House”

Coming further away from the in game presentation, the main menu for NBA 2K is assorted through the highlighted modes: MyLeague, MyGM, NBA Today, MyCareer, MyTeam, and Settings. In the center of this gym is the new huge display for NBA 2KTV hosted by Rachel Demita. I’ve been playing the game for over a week and a half now and I am sure Rachel is a pleasant girl, however, it has been the same video since I got it. I almost hate myself if I let that video run for more than she has time to say “hi.” It’s not her, but the repetitive nature of the one video throws me off. If they could switch it up with the 2KU videos or some other highlights then I would definitely be all for 2KTV playing every time.

"In a nutshell, I can say with certainty NBA 2K15 is a complete step forward in sports games offering far more expansive GM, Franchise, Season, and Career offerings unseen outside of the NBA 2K series."

Probably most important when it comes to presentation, the placing of the scorecard on the floor is problematic at times for play when the camera is in 2K mode. You cannot see the new shot meter underneath your player’s icon on the right side of the floor for above the break 3s. It’s a minor thing as you continue to play and get more comfortable with the new shooting mechanics, however, you can neither see the meter rise, nor can you see feedback, until the camera snaps around the other way if they rebound or you move your player out of the way of the scorecard. The game executes so much of the new shot meter flawlessly, but in this regard you cannot see the shot meter and it can hinder your performance from time to time.

To nitpick a bit more on the presentation things some, there are some things that are extraneous in presentation. As you used to play the game, whenever the announcers would say to bring up any statistics those statistics would pop up on screen. I haven’t seen those happen in game, but it seems as if they’re supposed to be there as the prompt in the dialogue is still there, especially when coming out of a timeout. Additionally, the cheerleaders are pretty cool in how their routines are choreographed and the camera shots around them are taken, however you will learn relatively quickly that there are maybe 3 routines total that the cheerleaders have and at most 10 faces.

Every team in the league eventually gets the same routine, with the same faces, but in different colors. Given the amount of effort put into getting Ernie, Shaq, coaches, and players in the game, NBA 2K15 could have maybe taken their face scan to the various cheerleading groups and at least got their faces to put on the bodies. Doris Burke is the sideline reporter and her face isn’t in it. There are probably licensing reasons why this is the case for the women in the game, but given Ernie and Shaq could get their faces in the game, I don’t see how they couldn’t have gone the extra mile for Ms. Burke at the very least.

"You know where Pharrell songs are awesome? In your car where you can feel the bass, in a club, or if you listen to his later work it’s probably at a family reunion."

Lastly, the soundtrack to this game is just alright. It doesn’t have any real bangers you can play over highlights and get hype with outside of Scenario, although I do enjoy practicing to Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode. This personal curation gave NBA 2K one of the single best introductory sequences in video game history from Jay-Z in 2K13, but here we have a ton of Pharrell songs. You know where Pharrell songs are awesome? In your car where you can feel the bass, in a club, or if you listen to his later work it’s probably at a family reunion. Occasionally, you sync up with some live music that really gets at it, but really it just makes me want to take the best of all 3 of these last curated soundtracks and make one really good one with Phil Collins, Jay-Z, Nas, Daft Punk, Snoop Dogg, Too Short, U2, Coldplay, The Black Keys, Gorillaz, Lorde, Public Enemy, Santigold, Afrika Bambaataa, and Busta Rhymes.

Up Next… Gameplay and MyLeague Mode