Why NBA 2K15 is Bad; Well Frustrating at Least
I don’t get frustrated very often while playing video games. There’s only a couple of things that happen regularly in video games that can really get me going. The first thing is, obviously, campers; the second thing is when I push a button, and the person on the screen doesn’t do the action that corresponds to that button, or they do it late. One of these reasons (hint: the second one) is one of the reasons that I say NBA 2K15 is bad and utterly frustrating.
I know this is a VERY unpopular opinion, and I may get a lot of negative feedback for it, but it’s something I’ve thought about since the very first NBA 2K game. The more I think about it, I feel bad saying that it’s a bad game, because it isn’t. The graphics are great, you can tell they put a lot of time and effort into making the most complete NBA experience that they can, and they’re selling millions and millions of copies, but it plays to me as if it’s an NBA experience from the perspective of somebody watching, not one of the players.
Three of the first things that they mention as features on the back of the game is “…over 5,000 new animations, new TV-like camera angles…” and “…a pre-game show featuring Shaq and Ernie Johnson…” which are all things you’d experience if you were watching a game live at home. All of that is great, but, a lot of nights I am someone at home watching an NBA game, so I’m already getting those features from my cable provider and the networks. I play these games because I want to feel like I’m in the game.
I understand that I can change the settings to take out the commentary, and cutscenes (which I do turn off), etc. but it isn’t just that. Very often throughout the course of playing the game, things will happen that feel like they’re out of my control, and it takes me out of the illusion that I’m actually there playing. As I said earlier, I don’t like calling it a bad game, and there are a lot of features that I really do enjoy about the game, so even though it will seem like this post is attacking NBA 2K hopefully I can soften the blow by talking about the things I like first.
What I Really Enjoy
As I mentioned, I really still do like playing the game. Even though a lot of the time I feel like I’ve been taken out of the game and put back in the real world, while I’m still lost in the game, I’m enjoying it. Although I haven’t done it in 2K15 yet, I love sitting around the TV with a group of friends, having 2K tournaments and talking smack to each other.
It’s very satisfying when you’ve been getting defended really well, but you manage to make a good move on your opponent, and open yourself up to an easy dunk. It’s even more satisfying when, at the end of the game, you’re announced as the Player of the Game and your stats can only be described as “video game numbers.”
In the MyCareer mode, I like how they added a storyline element to it. I like to play this game to feel like I’m in the NBA on and off the court, and being able to interact with teammates, coaches, the press etc. is fantastic. You’re able to build relationships with other players, talk to your agent to find out what you have to do to build your brand, and talk to coaches if you have concerns, want a trade, or just want to say you’re satisfied with where you’re playing. You can even see feedback from fans via “Twitter” about your performance on the court each night, and sometimes about the decisions you made off of it.
Also, one of the first things that I noticed when I got into a game (and something I really liked) is that you can dunk from the beginning. In the past games, you had to increase your dunk rating and vertical rating in order to dunk, which I always thought was funny. A 6’7″ wing player, who just got drafted into the NBA can’t dunk. This year, though, that all changed, and you can start making highlight plays from the opening tip.
Another thing that I like, which is something they added last year, is how it’s easier to get steals. Before, if you were to tip the ball away from your opponent, and your teammate picked it up, it would count as their steal. It’s very difficult to just take the ball from your opponent, so the main way to get steals is to intercept passes; but those passes often get tipped instead of intercepted, so you just did a lot of the work, but didn’t get the credit. Now, this year (and last), if you tip the ball away, as long as anybody on your team picks it up, you get the steal.
I also like the new way you can earn badges. In last years game, and before, you could purchase badges for your player (using your hard-earned VC, which could be better used to increase attributes) that would give you some in-game boosts. This year, though, you begin to earn badges as you perform different tasks on and off of the court. Something like that, that can give you different types of increases on the court and in the locker room, are better suited to being earned instead of bought.
Lastly, I like how they’ve created a way to import your face into the game. Similar to EA Sports, you can have your face scanned and the game will create a 3D model, allowing you to play as you. Unlike EA Sports, though, you don’t have to upload different angles of your face online and then import it later. All I had to do was sit in front of my Kinect and turn my head side to side, and it generated an image from that.
My Personal Frustrations
I play primarily MyCareer, and I know that a lot of these problems are probably just my lack of skills in this game. Which takes me to my first point. When I’m playing, I want to play, and feel like I’m actually the one that’s out there playing. I know people who have had a lot of success with their MyCareer player, scoring 50+ somewhat regularly; but they are exploiting the game aspect of it.
For example: an old roommate of mine and I would play 2k together and just switch controllers every quarter or half. Once we got our players 3 point rating up to around 75 or 80, all he would have to do is dribble back and forth around the three point line until eventually he’d be open enough to take the three. He would score tons of points doing this; but that’s what I’m saying. I don’t want to play the game as if I’m playing a video game. I want to play it as if I’m the person out there making the plays.
I have been playing basketball, organized and unorganized, for the majority of my life. I know a lot about the game, and though I may not be a great analyst of the game, I do know what should happen on the court, where players should be, and how they should move. In this game, though, it seems difficult to get your player where you want him to be. Especially on defense.
When the ball is passed to the guy I’m defending, a lot of the time, I’ll press X to get my hand into the passing lane and hope to tip the ball. Occasionally, that’s what he’ll do, just stick his arm out, but most of the time, he’ll go for an all out steal which leaves me in a bad position, allows my opponent to easily score, and me to lose teammate grade points.
This also happens when the person you’re guarding already has the ball. If he does a move, and you happen to move a little in the opposite direction that he was going, most of the time, he’s going to blow by you for an easy score; and if you’re playing off of your man a little bit because you’re helping out on defense, and they pass it to him, it can be difficult to accurately navigate your player back to your assignment, and they end up getting another easy bucket.
On the other hand; if you’re on offense, and you’re being defended, it’s very difficult to get an open shot. Especially in the beginning when you haven’t improved your stats that much. If the same situation happens, where you make a move and your opponent goes in the opposite direction a little, you’re still not open. They recover back to you pretty much immediately, and if you thought you were open and tried to take a shot, you’ll more than likely miss, or worse, get blocked. You may be thinking that the game included this so that there’s a tougher element of defense, but basketball, especially at the NBA level, is all about the small spacing you’re able to get from your opponent.
The game also seems to have a hard time telling whether or not a player is open. I make a lot of cuts toward the basket when I’m playing, and often enough, those cuts leave me with a wide open lane to the basket. I’ll try calling for the ball sometimes but I’ll get the message saying “call for pass ignored” (or in previous games, would lose teammate grade points for “bad call for pass”). If I do get my teammate to pass me the ball, I’m not able to catch it in a fluid motion headed toward the basket. Rather, my player stops where he is and catches the ball standing still in the middle of the paint. This allows the defender to catch back up and play decent defense, and if I try to beat him by putting up a shot, it ends up being some weird floater.
The last thing that really annoys me about this game is the passing. I like to play with the Clippers when i’m playing in MyCareer, because I like getting exciting assists to Griffin and Jordan. It’s been tough though because the pass that I end up making after a pick-and-roll, ends up being a terrible pass and leads to a turnover. This may be because my players passing rating isn’t very high, but in my opinion, they’re easy passes and that shouldn’t matter. The player who just set a screen for me can roll and have a wide open lane for a dunk, but when I pass it, he ends up throwing it into the back of the defender. There’s only one button for pass, so I can’t control how he passes it, but it would make sense to me if he made the best pass to get it to his open teammate.
Despite all of the complaining that I seem to be doing in this article, I still do enjoy playing the game. I love basketball and playing it, so I’m going to continue playing and improving my player. Besides, it’s that much more rewarding when I do have a good game, through all of the elements that make it feel like the game is holding me back. It’s as if I really did overcome odds to prove that I am a good player.
2K Sports has been (and likely will be for a long time) the number one maker of basketball games; and I’m ok with that. They are constantly listening to their fans, and improving the game so that we, as the players of the game, can have the best experience possible when playing. Hopefully, in the next installment of the franchise, they’ll address and fix some of these concerns that I have. I just want to be able to play a basketball game and be fully immersed in what it would feel like if I were the one actually out there playing. I look forward to seeing what 2K sports has in store for the future.
If you have any additional frustrations with this game, let us know in the comments. Let me know if you disagree with anything I said here as well. I can take it. Check out my YouTube channel for a few more clips of me gaming, and don’t forget to hit one of those share buttons too!