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UNDER REVIEW 2K All The Way Fifteen years and four gaming generations in—the NBA 2K series has set the standard for basketball video games predating back to the Sega Dreamcast era. From Sega’s ill-fated console all the way to the nextgen revolution, developer Visual Concepts somehow continues to tap into the psyche of every avid NBA fan by delivering classic after classic with every annual version of its acclaimed franchise. Commemorating a decade and a half of dominance, 2K Sports looks to push the digital hoops envelope once again with NBA 2K15. Establishing an epic presence on the PS4 and Xbox One as one, if not, the greatest sports launch title ever, NBA 2K14 left little room for perfection in terms of graphics, gameplay, and replay value. And those are the same exact sentiments most gamers will share when gaining a hands-on with its successor. 2K15 is what many will consider the people’s NBA 2K, as the creative team really took note of every complaint shared amongst the 2K communities to improve its game during the offseason. Advanced career and multiplayer modes, along with jaw-dropping visuals and other fan-attributed inducements, it’s practically standard protocol at this point to develop a bromance with 2K’s gem heading into the holidays. Leading the lineup this year is the new Franchise mode, now dubbed MyGM, which incorporates role-playing elements such as team communication and ownership. Gamers will be encouraged to interact with players and apply certain tactics to boost their performance on the court, while laying down the law on the operations end. Many might find the disappearance of Associate Mode to be a bigger let down than Melo re-signing with the NY Knicks, but there’s much to be gained in experience alone with the customizablecentric MyLeague mode—garnering the will to play over 80 seasons with up to 30 players. Gameplay receives subtle enhancements, with the players not only reflecting their real-life counterparts physically, but also deft wise. Collisions in the paint are more organic to where the motions around a crowded area affect shots. The AI is smarter and doesn’t pull James Harden defensive, becoming more aggressive on fast breaks and adapting to offensive play calls. In other words, don’t expect to get away with Kobe isolations on the regular. This actually leads into another key area in the game: player maintenance. 2K15 offers a new Injuries 2.0 system that places a huge emphasis on player wear and tear, monitoring critical areas of the body. Over 5,000 animations are supposedly present in the game, bringing to life the raw and signature emotions of every major baller. Dribbling, shooting, and set plays are simulated to perfection, depicting the authenticity of NBA hardwood play to a T. No matter the gaming platform—PS4, Xbox One, or PC—it’s a natural reaction to marvel at 2K15’s beautifully rendered graphics. Arenas are more detailed, where as crowd interaction is magnified with every scored basket. One area fans had issues with in the previous installment was the online infrastructure, as network issues really damaged the experience through all present modes. The engineers over at Visual Concepts put in work to make sure no connectivity problems occur that prevent us from engaging in any of the game’s features. Error codes are even being distributed to become aware of technical troubles. It’s in all these specifics where 2K15 reaches its apex. Added bonuses like the new NBA 2K TV feature, which generates sharable content from the NBA 2K community, plus the eccentric soundtrack curated by Pharrell Williams and new pre-game commentary team led by Ernie Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal only strengthen the game’s championshipwinning performance. By Alex Bracetti


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