Dear readers, you may have noticed from some (/all) of my previous articles covering the EB Expo that I am not really a console gamer by any stretch of the imagination. I am noticing that this is turning out to be quite a problem when providing coverage at this expo as most of the games being showcased are only playable on gaming consoles. For my ignorance, I apologise as I do my best to provide analysis which is both informative and entertaining. To that end, I tried my hand at playing NBA 2K15 which, unfortunately for me, was only playable on the Playstation 4. Regardless, I powered through and below are some of my thoughts…
The first thing I noticed playing the game is that there is certainly a lot of polish which has been given to nearly every aspect of its design. The menus are slick and easy to use, the graphics are pretty darn good (even with the camera zoomed out), and the loading screen is a pre-game sports show with analysis provided by digital commentators. I particularly liked the last one as I enjoy it when games provide some manner of interactivity during lulls in the gameplay to keep the player engaged and I found this particular idea to be entertaining as well as thematically appropriate (as well as featuring in the game’s trailer).
The demo had a number of teams that you could select to play as, predominantly the teams from the United States of America but also some from the European leagues as well. Unfortunately I can’t remember which team I ended up playing as I had no understanding of the reputations of any of the teams so I just chose whichever came up first… once again, my ignorance of all things sports is showing.
There was no tutorial available in the demo, as far as I could tell, and the only explanation of the controls I could find was a two sided print-out with controls for attacking and defending. After learning as much as of the controls as I could for the ‘defending’ side, I saddled myself for some good old-fashioned ‘b-ball’.
As you can imagine, I had quite some difficulty in grasping the controls to begin with and had my team fouled quite a few times over the course of the match as I either held buttons down too long or not enough. I was playing a dirty game, largely out of ineptitude, but by the end of the match I had largely figured out the controls which turned out to be surprisingly intuitive. I scored a dozen points, but they were not enough to overcome the other team’s significant advantage which they had rightly gained in the first three quarters.
The gameplay was tense and largely comes down to movement across the court and correctly timing your shots in accordance with said movement. This is perfectly expressed with one of the mini-games you play during the match. During penalty a penalty shot, the player has to time the shot with a heartbeat vibration coming through their controller. If you press it too soon or too late, you will miss the shot. This seemed to be an interesting use of the PS4 controller’s capabilities, although I was never quite able to time the shot correctly.
Ultimately I had more fun with the twenty minutes or so I had with this game than I did with some other titles as I felt that I actually had some measure of control in the game as I fumbled my way through. The demo would have done well to have included at least a tutorial of some manner beyond a map of the controls, but I have a feeling that the aim of the demo was not to draw new fans in to the series.
Overall, there was a tremendous amount of polish that was given to this title which shows in nearly every aspect. Although I did have fun, I don’t feel particularly compelled to go out and acquire this game for myself. For fans of the series, I have no doubt it will have more of what they know and love but as for the rest of us; I can’t recommend this as a sports game to get you into the genre…