NBA 2K15 review for Xbox One, PS4

Platform: Xbox One
Also On: PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher: 2K Sports
Developer: Visual Concepts
Medium: Disc/Digital
Players: 1-8
Online: Yes

For years now, the folks at 2K Sports have dominated the sport of basketball when it comes to recreating that virtual NBA experience for gamers. Jumping to next generation hasn?t created any new obstacles or hiccups, but on the contrary, has helped the game to evolve into a bigger and better beast that fans of the NBA will be clamoring for year in and year out — provided of course they continue to grow and not rest on their laurels. This will be more and more pressing especially if EA has anything to say about it now that they are in their 2nd year of their revitalized NBA Live franchise. Live is looking better and better and could very well serve to be great competition if they continue to bring their efforts to the table against 2K. While EA?s efforts are genuinely improved, it will still be another year or two until they will be any serious threat to 2K?s crown. NBA2K15 is a damn near perfect simulation of the sport of basketball that tops even all of their own efforts they have put out over the last decade or so. While there are still a couple minor issues that the developers need to overcome to deliver a flawless performance, it is certain that this year?s effort only has a blemish or two that will certainly clear up with age.

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Visually NBA2K 15 ups the ante on last year?s effort with the most accurate and realistic looking basketball game, and possibly even sports game, these eyes have ever seen. From the incredible detail of scanned player faces that not only accurately portray their real life counterparts, to sweat and expressive emotions that range from excitement, bewilderment, and even pain. The animations are tremendous, not only for on court moves like cross over?s, fades, and dunks, but players will dive and even fight for the ball to gain possession. You will see just how spot on the collision detection is for these movements during the outstanding replays shown throughout the game. The details don?t end at the players either as the arenas feel alive with atmosphere and crowds who react to big plays and bad calls. This even spills over onto the sidelines as not only is your coach animated, but the bench players put in their 2 cents as well. All this is rounded out nicely with opening ceremonies, in between quarter routines by cheerleaders, the Jordan Player of the game that shows a wonderful highlight reel of the that game?s best player, and even a half time interview done with real voices from participating superstars in the game.

The presentation in NBA2K 15 doesn?t end with the game?s graphical prowess either as the game is remarkable to the ears as well. The commentary, as typical for this franchise, not only raises the bar, but is the bar when it comes to measuring where other sports games need to be when calling a virtual game. Not only is the play calling seamless and on point, but there are updates which correspond to what is going on during the season, whether it?s comparing this year?s stats to last, injury updates, etc. It is this real time commentary that makes each game feel like a unique experience. To enhance the experience your ears will be happy with the remarkable and reactionary crowd that will ooh, ahh, cheer, and jeer along with the in game action. Lastly, the game has a memorable soundtrack mixed by Pharrell that includes a wonderful and eclectic variety of songs that range from rock, hip hop, old, and new to appease all musical tastes.

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If I?ve said it once, I?ve said it a thousand times, in the end it doesn?t matter how good it looks and sounds when it comes to sports titles, but how the game plays both in how it controls and how accurately to a real life game your box scores end up. NBA2K15 excels in both aspects by providing a tough yet fair A.I. all while simulating the game to a T with accurate stats that mimic a real life NBA game perfectly. This is accomplished out of the box with very little tweaking to the sliders needed — though they are there and fully customizable if need be. Not only will the game play you tough, but the intelligence is smart enough to change strategies on the fly, setting up prevent defenses, and even switching up aggressive levels if needing to go on a quick scoring tear when down or at the end of the game. The way the CPU plays is not only like how a coach would typically handle the situations, but their strategy make sense, which will keep you on your toes the entire 60 minutes of the game. Any slacking off on your part can and will result in a 15-0 run if you are not careful. This is not to say that blow outs on either end of the court can?t and won?t happen, but if the teams play up to their potential then expect the results to simulate as expected.

All of this is also possible due to the game?s uncanny ability to control so well, where timing is everything, reading defenses is essential, and knowing when to drive the lane and draw the foul or shoot one at the top of the key all depend on accurate game flow to work to your advantage. To say you have complete control over your player on the court is an understatement as all your button layouts are perfectly represented so whether you are trying to pull off a fade away jumper, break the ankles of your defender, or simply pop that 12 footer to send the game into overtime, the game controls are a breeze so there is no one to blame but yourself for any lackadaisical performances.

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NBA 2K15 is chock full of modes so not only will you find the mode that best suits you and the kind of game you want to play, but each mode is customizable to even fit into your busy schedule. What?s more, if I had reviewed this game at the time of launch I would be complaining about the online servers, which were in short?a mess. After last year?s unstable online issues all I thought in the beginning was, here we go again, but alas, thanks to some tweaking, fine tuning, and a patch here and there, the game is now like butter online. No matter if you are doing ?The Park? mode or any of the other numerous online options, you can rest assured you are bound to finally experience that portion of the game as it was meant to be? which is fun as hell.

If the single player experience is your bag, you will also find no shortage of modes to enjoy here, including a whole new single player My Career mode that is centered on you being an underappreciated prospect and it is up to you to swallow your pride and earn your stripes on the court. This was a nice change of the past couple years of being an already made man proving your worth, as your player is now more humble and must take his lumps if he is to grow into a mature and successful player. Used in this mode as well is a new face scanning technology that uses either the Xbox Kinect or PS4 camera, but both end results will be dependent on how well lit your photographing area is. All I can say is that if you are not in a well lit area?and I mean WELL LIT, expect to have a terrible and frustrating experience getting this to work. On the other hand, if your lighting is superb, the results are scary real and an impressive new tech I can?t wait to see used in other games down the road. Last but not least, the Virtual Currency used in last year?s game returns, but does not force you to be logged in online which caused nothing but headaches and is working finally as intended.

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Overall, it?s hard to find any issues that can?t be overcome when it comes to calling NBA2K15 a complete package. As a matter of fact, other than some presentation additions, online working out of the box on day one, and improvement on the face scanning feature, I am hard pressed in wondering what 2K can do to improve this title as it is just about as perfect as a sports game can be. Even in the face of NBA Live returning to the hoops game, I can?t imagine that even the mighty EA can find a way to dethrone the king at this point. Even if you aren?t a huge fan of the NBA, but love sports, I suggest that anyone who calls themselves a sports fan needs to check NBA 2K15 out.

Grade: A+