Even as 2K Games' NBA franchise ran unopposed for years while EA Sports' "NBA Live" series retooled, it churned out critically acclaimed and consumer-cherished titles regularly.
That's why it's so disappointing to find "NBA 2K15" doesn't live up to its pedigree, even as its rival is working its way back to respectability.
Oh, it's a good game; one with which series fans will be happy enough. But it's not going to blow anyone out of the water.
There's plenty to like, though. MyCareer mode and its balanced upgrade system are a blast, even if I found my character whiny and hard to root for in the beginning -- not much choice, there.
The on-court experience remains the greatest asset of the "2K" series. Nothing cheap happens, and games have a realistic flow to them like very few sports sims have duplicated. The new shot meter is a boon for those who have trouble knowing when to release the shoot button.
While the shot meter is a win, the new face scan option for your created player is a big loss. Even after a patch, it's incredibly difficult and taxing to attempt to get a good representation of one's own face into the game using the PlayStation Camera or Kinect. Mine didn't look like a monster, but even a "Good" scan resulted in Bizarro Scott. This needs dramatic improvement in the next edition, or it might as well be scrapped.
That alone doesn't cost "2K15" too much. What hurts is presentation. Midgame, everything looks fantastic, from the players to the courts. But then comes halftime when Doris Burke speaks to one of the players, and a purportedly next-gen game looks extremely last-gen. If the same love and care was put into making Burke, Ernie Johnson and the hilarious Shaquille O'Neal look right, there would be no complaint. It's an eyesore given the power of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Load screens are pretty obnoxious, too. It would be nice if there were other activities or visuals available while waiting to transition to and from games. Or, at least cut down on load times.
The grade for "NBA 2K15" admittedly is harsh mostly because this game can be so much better, even if it's good already. Hopefully, competition will continue to push the series to its limits in the future.