After months of waiting, NBA 2K22 is here and it has left its predecessors in the dust. This year’s iteration has established itself as the greatest basketball simulation game thanks to its superior realistic gameplay and renewed focus on rewarding smarter playstyles.
The gameplay in NBA 2K takes it to the next level by keeping things simple and improving on the foundations of previous games. As with every iteration in the franchise, small tweaks and reworks to dribbling and shooting make the gameplay experience much more satisfying. Dribble moves and combinations feel more precise and snappier giving you more control of the players. The new shot meter is also a welcome change from last year’s version. As you go for a shot, the meter will be directly affected by your player’s shooting abilities, energy level and defensive coverage. The new meter also takes the form of a longer arc that makes it much clearer when to release your shot.
In previous years, defending against certain players felt like an impossible task as they could just blow past you and finish at the rim with ease. Now, Visual Concepts have overhauled defense to reward skilled defenders both on the perimeter and in the paint. This also forces the offense to run more complex plays instead of relying on getting easy buckets. On the other hand, this has made the defensive AI slightly too pushy, as I was often faced with annoying full-court press defense during games.
A career in basketball, among other things.
In MyCareer, you’ll get to create your own player and gradually evolve him to become a Hall-of-Famer if you’re good enough. In typical 2K fashion, you’ll experience your character’s journey, starting off in college as he makes his way to the NBA. While not unfamiliar at this point, the story still has some interesting twists and forces you to take tough decisions which could affect your career going forwards.
Naturally, the path to success is difficult and you’ll have to grind to unlock Badges and earn VC to upgrade your player’s abilities. This aspect of the game remains the most engaging yet most time consuming, especially if you want to max out your character’s stats. While this isn’t a major issue playing MyCareer alone, you’ll quickly feel outclassed in the Rec Room by those who purchased microtransactions. Unfortunately, it seems the only way to speed up your progress is by purchasing VC with real money, which has become a trend in previous NBA 2K games. Apart from basketball, you can do just about anything like shopping, skateboarding, making hip-hop music which are fun distractions at times. Nonetheless, I would have preferred the mode to focus more on basketball above all else.
Card collecting at its finest.
Thankfully, some of MyCareer’s issues are alleviated in the MyTeam mode which lets you build your own team of past and present NBA superstars. The mode is fully-packed with content and ways to drastically improve your squad for free in a reasonable amount of time. The auction house is also a great way to get specific players you want without having to spend VC. In addition, NBA 2K22 has introduced a Card Grading system and Shoe Builder to this mode. While these ideas make sense, they don’t have much of an impact on the game and I opted to ignore them.
The Draft is also a new feature that lets you assemble a roster of players and get rewarded based on the number of games you win (similar to FIFA Ultimate Team’s Draft mode). This is by far one of the most fun aspects of the game but does require an entrance fee which is paid in real money after your first few draft runs. Hopefully, we’ll get to try out this mode using in-game currency in the near future. Lastly, MyNBA has received some additions in terms of coaching staff badges and attributes. While these are nice to have, this franchise mode doesn’t feel much more interesting than it did a few years ago.
All this being said, NBA 2K22 provides the most realistic and fluid basketball sim experience to date. The gameplay remains rock-solid and the variety of game modes available means there is always things to do. Although, microtransactions are still an issue, NBA 2K22 does justify the upgrade from last year’s iteration thanks to some much needed changes to the core gameplay, especially on defense. While, the last few entries in the franchise have been hit or miss, NBA 2K22 does deserve recognition for breaking the cycle and exceeding expectations with this release.
GameRev was provided with a digital download code for the purpose of this review.