NBA 2K15: The Basketball Diaries - Games Weekly

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

NBA 2K15: The Basketball Diaries

AT SOME POINT over the last few years, 2K decided that what basketball games were lacking more than anything was a gripping, inspirational narrative. Where this idea came from is anyone’s guess, but lo and behold it has been run with, resulting today in the most dramatic NBA game ever made. That’s not an accolade achieved lightly, and it’s a strange one.

It’s fair to say that drama does walk hand in hand with American sports coverage most of the time there’s more hyperbole, more pizzazz than in the UK but 2K has decided to pull this drama out of the arena and into NBA 2K15’s other game modes.

MyCareer a mode in which you create a player and live out his career is great, but does suffer under the weight of 2K’s decision to make a basketball game play out like Mass Effect, with pointless dialogue choices and odd cutscenes in your player’s apartment feeling superfluous and forced. It's different, which is good, but it’s jarring and a little hard to watch at times. Still, the dramatisation of a struggling basketball player’s trials and tribulations (on and off the court, man) only represents one
facet of 2K’s game, and purely serves as embellishment for a wonderful recreation of the sport, both in terms of licensing driven authenticity that FIFA would be proud of and in regards to some of the strongest sports gameplay that we’ve seen in a while.

This is weighty and uninhibited basketball working exactly as it should. Dribbling is as tight as ever, with change of pace and direction providing more feedback than ever before, and with the right stick (defined in NBA 2K15 as the Pro Stick, whatever the hell that means) acting as a free form skill/shooting control, there are a huge amount of options available to you to get free of your man and open up a shot. Calling for a screen (where another chap on your team blocks an opposing player, allowing you to zip round him with ease) is only a button press away as well, providing offensive options that encourage you to play with creativity and intelligence.
Similarly, shooting feels more responsive and a little more accessible than last year, and a meter underneath the shooter that provides colour coded feedback determined by how long you hang in the air before releasing the ball is a welcome addition. Defending is typically difficult, but so rewarding when you get it right; in MyCareer mode, when you’re only playing as one person, your defensive performance is constantly under the microscope, as losing your man and allowing him to score or even jumping too early when trying to block him is fiercely penalised. Once again, this is something that truly encourages you to analyse and adapt your technique, making the overall experience that much more rewarding as a result.

All these gameplay features and more are generally excellent, and so it’s a shame that in order to get into the game and start honing your ability you need a compass to fi nd your way around. There isa videogame under there somewhere, and an awesome one at that, but everything is hidden behind an ugly wall of modes and menus that are irritating to navigate just put an option in the main menu saying ‘Play a game of Basketball’ (or something more thrifty) and be done with it. A confusing UI leads to a sense of frustration every time you boot the game up, and 2K could do with being reminded that nine times out of ten, simple is best.

However, a dodgy interface doesn't completely mar the overall experience and a few online issues aside, we became hooked almost immediately. There’s no denying how much there is to do here, with a multitude of modes and custom options neatly padding out the core game. It’s deep, technical and well made, and even though the visuals don’t seem as impressive as they did last year during
the PS4’s infancy, this is still very much one of the better sports games out there.

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