Full court press.
When I was presented with the opportunity to review Basketball Pro Management 2015, I leaped at the chance. I’m a huge basketball fan, and have followed the sport closely for over twenty years. I play fantasy basketball every year, and I’m also no stranger to sports management sims. I’ve played Football Manager, the perennial marquee soccer management sim developed by Sports Interactive, since the nineties (when it was previously known as Championship Manager prior to SI’s split from Eidos). Needless to say, I thought I was fairly well qualified to take on this review, and I was looking forward to doing so. Unfortunately, Basketball Pro Management 2015 did not come anywhere near to living up to my enthusiastically high expectations.
Starting a new game, the player has the option to create a new team or play with an existing franchise. My first choice was to go with a new team, and from there I was able to pick my franchise location via country and then league. One positive aspect of Basketball Pro Management 2015 is the vast amount of choice available in this respect: there are over forty leagues, including women’s pro leagues.
Staying in my comfort zone in terms of my own basketball knowledge, I went with an American team (Minneapolis) in the ‘American League’ – making the assumption that this was the professional league (i.e., the NBA), although there was also the option to select US Universities. Oddly, when filling out all the information for my team, such as nickname and city (which was required even though I’d selected Minneapolis), all the default information in the form referred to a team based in Paris. This strange occurrence was one of the many oddities I went on to encounter in the game.
Basketball Pro Management 2015 is littered with spelling errors and odd grammatical phrases. All player names are spelled incorrectly – for example, LeBron James is ‘LeBron Jamas’ and Kevin Durant is ‘Kevin Durent.’ I can only assume this is due to licensing restrictions. If so it is forgivable, but it makes searching for players in the database a little more challenging. What is less forgivable are mistakes such as listening nationalities incorrectly – I wanted to play as a Dutch manager but the option was ‘Hollander;’ scrolling down the list I also spotted the option to play as a ‘Hongkonger’, whilst Nigerian was listed twice.
While spelling mistakes might seem a petty thing to focus on, in my opinion it speaks to a lack of attention to detail that will hold back any sports management sim. Management sims are, in my experience, played by people who like to pay attention to the details and love to control the little things that make up their team. By immediately presenting the player with sloppily written content, it gives the impression that the product isn’t taking things seriously. However much content there may be, it’s an immediate reason to be skeptical about the quality of the game.
It’s a blowout.
The game is also lacking in other ways. While there is a full instruction manual available on the website, there are no tutorials immediately apparent when starting a new game. Basketball Pro Management 2015 assumes a lot of knowledge about basketball and players right off the bat, down to assigning positions (which aren’t specified as far as I could see). As someone who follows basketball very closely, it wasn’t a problem for me to take over an existing team (I started another new game playing as the manager of the Charlotte Hornets). I was able to assign roles, as I knew which players played in which position. However, this assumption that every player has an extensive knowledge of existing players and teams is a bit of a stretch and, in my opinion, further serves to make the game quite inaccessible.
This inaccessibly and odd presentation is made further apparent by the 2D and 3D simulations available when undertaking games. The 2D simulation is actually quite interesting for those who are curious about how plays are run throughout the course of a game. The player is presented with a top down look at the court as each player moves around and executes plays, similar to how they might be drawn up on a whiteboard. But then another issue appeared – I assigned my starting 5 players to their positions before the game, using the standard basketball designations of 1 (point guard) to 5 (center). Yet when these players moved around on the court, they were numbered 4 through 8. The player can also watch a 3D simulation, which didn’t run particularly smoothly on my machine. The crowd noise is a nice feature and adds an authentic touch.
I was excited to play Basketball Pro Management 2015, but in its current state it’s very tough to get into. Anyone hoping for a basketball equivalent to Football Manager is going to be sorely disappointed. There’s no explanation of how to navigate the various menus, and the game demands that the player figure it out as they go along. Ultimately, this is a game that should not have been released in its current state. It has numerous flaws, which impact any enjoyment it may offer for sports management sim fans. That being said, I will say that the game does show a genuine enthusiasm for the sport on the part of the creators. They have the template for what could be a thorough basketball management sim, and it is evident that a lot of work has gone into this. However, as a reviewer I can only evaluate the game I played, not the game it could be, and unfortunately that game is currently not very good.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.