Thoughts on NBA 2K15 MyCareer Mode

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Posted October 14th, 2014 at 3:30 pm

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MyCareer is the most popular mode in the NBA 2K series and for good reason. Starting in 2K14 it became more of a story mode than a standard career mode and has benefited greatly from that by providing a uniquely compelling experience that is unmatched in the genre. In 2K15 there’s a brand new storyline which will click with some, various improvements and additions made, and some areas where it could really use some work.¬†

When the servers aren’t down MyCareer has become my go-to mode. That would probably instead be online if the servers provided a good experience, or Online Leagues/Franchise if there was a viable one offered, but unfortunately that hasn’t been the case. So given all the time I’ve been able to put into MyCareer here’s what I like the most and what isn’t done so well.

The first thing 2K can do to improve MyCareer is to give you some guidance on how to play and what you need to do to succeed. I found myself back on the court after months away from 2K14 having forgotten how to set screens for example. It then comes down to trial and error and you don’t really want to just be randomly pressing buttons (and the menus for controller scheme doesn’t show all the various functions) whether you have the ball in your hands or not. There are many people who have been away from 2K for longer, or may be buying the game for a first time, so just throwing them out on the court seems unwise.

The teammate grading system has gotten better from previous years – most notably you aren’t penalized for calling for the ball. There’s still a lot I don’t really like about it as far as the deductions go. I’m an undrafted rookie free agent, asked to check Kevin Durant, and I’m penalized because he scored on me? I commit a foul, something that happens regularly in games, and lose half a grade for it? It’s also not explained why you’ll get credit for things like “good team defense” or “good spacing” on some occasions but not others. There just isn’t any way to fully understand what the game expects of you.

A lot will come down to how much you buy into the new storyline of being an undrafted free agent. The concept is compelling – people love rags to riches stories – but the conspiracy theorist could also point at the low ratings you start with and limited playing time as a way to encourage more people to pay for VC to help their guy out early in a career.

There’s still a real disconnect between yourself and your character. What I mean by that is I can’t relate to the character they force you to play as. I don’t want to be an obnoxious, ego-driven a-hole. But that’s what you’re stuck with and characters like your agent are just as annoying to interact with. There are also two voices now to choose from instead of just one but both are equally awful. Then you have to interact with NBA players who, based on their voice acting, sound as though they are struggling to even read the script in front of them.

I’m surprised it’s 2015 and there is no female option in create-a-player. The FIFA series has rightfully taken heat for not incorporating females in the game and NBA 2K should as well. It’s not like women don’t play a role in basketball at various levels – whether it’s in college or the WNBA they have a presence and it’s a segment of consumers that companies should be reaching out to. Not only does a feature like face scanning do nothing for females but 2K is clearly pandering to a male demographic with NBA 2KTV. Hopefully that changes in the future.

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One change this year relates to how you spend VC on boosting attributes. Instead of individual attribute categories they are filtered into “buckets”. So in the past people found a few categories they could get up to 99 and dominate despite being low in others and now that isn’t possible – you can still build guys a certain way to play to particular strengths but it feels less exploitable and more natural in terms of progression. “Badges” take over for Signature Skills and act as a reward for success in the mode. I haven’t gotten far enough to see how they’ll come throughout a career as well as the process of upgrading them.

An issue I’ve always had with the way VC is integrated into NBA 2K is how it’s a universal currency. Having it affect all modes in 2K14 really damaged enjoyment because people couldn’t play the game the way they wanted to – those who would have liked to do multiple modes or sim franchise mode were out of luck. That’s been relieved to an extent this year but conceptually still isn’t exactly right. When you use VC to upgrade attributes, but that same VC is what it takes to get your character new clothes and accessories, why would anyone spend it on the latter?

Coach satisfaction plays a significant role this year. You have to pay attention to what the coach is asking of you and areas of focus for the team. It’s pretty well executed how you’ll occasionally have team meetings that demonstrate various things through film sessions.

Another worthwhile addition to the mode is the practice gym. You can take your guy into it and practice shooting and dribbling around. This is key because of the new shot meter. I don’t pay attention to it during games but try to get the timing down with it through the practice gym.

An annoyance I have comes with waiting to enter the game, as you know the play you’re watching is going to result in a timeout or some dead ball situation at the end. Oftentimes this has been with under a second remaining in a quarter. Why is a team calling a full court timeout with .4 seconds left in the third quarter? Load times throughout the mode have also seemingly gotten worse and the static screens make them feel as though they take forever.

Those issues pale in comparison to your teammate AI though which is simply head-scratching at times. For whatever reason when I’m on the court it seems like no one else can score except for me. Assists are hard to come by because they miss so many shots or pass out of open ones and they are inept at running an offense. I basically have to take over and get the ball in my hands for anything to happen.

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NBA 2K15’s MyCareer has arguably¬†a good enough hook in the story to keep you motivated to play and has done some positive things to improve from last year. However it carries with it some of the same flaws that hurt the experience then and the scripted nature will wear quickly on some.