Jan 19, 2015
In many ways, Amazon Appstore-exclusive NBA 2K15 is the perfect measure of the Amazon Fire TV.
At first glance, the graphics look great; cycling through the opening menu and such reveals glossy slides and bright, reddish tabs. The menu is quite responsive to the Fire Controller, with little hint of lag.
The menu is surprisingly sparse; one can create a player, and after that, the choices are Options, Controller, Quick Game and MyCareer. I was admittedly a bit dismayed that there isn’t yet a practice or training section, but there are two sections listed as upcoming: Season and Blacktop.
I swallowed my disappointment and hit up Quick Game; this gives the player the opportunity to go right into a game consisting of any two NBA teams. All teams are ranked, with San Antonio Spurs occupying the top spot (and understandably so). After selecting teams, the game goes into a simple, real-feeling presentation loop, and then gives a glitzy rendering of the starting lineups for each squad. After a perfunctory pregame ritual (where is the LBJ chalk toss?), the default 24-minute game begins.
It took a little while for me to get used the control set. I wasted time looking for what I felt would be standard: the ability to remap the controls, but that feature isn’t there. The default set isn’t too bad, but to refer to how they are mapped, one has to exit the game, which isn’t optimal. With a little practice, it is possible to make natural looking movements and actions.
In any case, I enjoyed playing the game on the controller. The developer did a good job with the game engine, and the design is great. The crowd is active, if sparse, and it mostly feels like a real NBA game. The different stadiums look authentic, and the game feel is realistic. Individually, I like the player characterizations. Kobe takes control at the end of games, Timmy D is Mr Fundamental, the Clippers have an affinity for the alley-oop, and Kevin Durant is, well, Kevin Durant. This piece is superb. Watching no look passes or players dive out to get a ball underscore the best part of the game.
The little pieces are nice too: half time highlights, game summaries, replays and the overall achievement system are great.
Back to graphics… they are okay, as noted, but I can’t shake the feeling that they could be better. The animations feel stilted at times, and this isn’t always concealed behind the fantastic “camera” work and auto plays. The players are recognizable, and scale of relative size is maintained, but there were glitches that occurred, like periodical loss of crowd noise and the game freezing during free throws.
The game does have room to grow, but feels like a decent catch now, and is even fuller with the controller. It can be enjoyed without, yes… but why would one want to? This is one game that is definitely enhanced by the Fire TV system, and is fine if one is able to avoid comparing it too closely with the console version.