NBA 2K23 review: A basketball fan’s (expensive) dream

NBA 2K23 developer Visual Concepts offers a basketball simulation slam dunk for newcomers and dedicated NBA fans, though some of the game’s key features are still locked behind a blatant paywall.

Being a fan of sports games is often more frustrating than fun. Every year, right before every game is released, fans around the world, myself included, have to perform a Jedi mind trick on ourselves in order to believe this is the year that Madden, the NHL or FIFA are going to turn the tide and provide a true quality entry into the franchises that have desperately needed it for so long.

In a sports gaming landscape dominated by games that simply don’t justify their existence beyond a $70 roster update, NBA 2K stands out among them as the only series that doesn’t take the habit of disappointing its player base like Groundhog Day.

With NBA 2K23, developers Visuals Concepts go above and beyond to deliver a truly great game that has something for everyone, old and new.

NBA 2K23 Key Details

Developer: Visual ConceptsPrice: $59.99/$69.99Release date: September 9, 2022Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, Steam

soft jazz

No matter how much Visual Concepts tinkers and updates NBA 2K’s various game modes, gameplay will always be king. With NBA 2K23, the developers have done a great job balancing fun and delivering a realistic basketball experience, even if it still needs a few tweaks.

The biggest change with this year’s episode is the new adrenaline boost that every player now has with their stamina bar. Each player has three adrenaline rushes that fuel actions on the field like attempting a steal, crossing a defender, or jumping for a rebound. This addition was made in order to limit players‘ ability to dribble the ball endlessly and pump fakes under the hoop dozens of times to guarantee a free basket.

While this change is certainly a welcome addition, it’s hard to see why the devs made it so every player had three adrenaline boosts, because that balances the playing field too much. Why would LeBron James have the same number? boosts than a Kings bench player? It’s hard to understand why every player in the game would have the same amount of adrenaline.

Beyond that, the instant gameplay feels much smoother than in years past. NBA 2K23 features a handful of new contact layers and shooting animations that make driving to the hoop more exciting, even for less skilled players. More dynamic players now have additional animations when shooting with the left stick, letting basketball creativity shine brighter than ever.

The jump shots have been completely reworked and the generic animations of the past are gone. Now jumps have their own ratings with release height, release speed, defensive immunity and timing impact, giving real value to the most coveted jumpers like Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving. For MyPlayer, every jump shot is locked to height and rating requirements, meaning no random seven-footer can pull a Curry sweater out of their pocket.

AI improvements mean the computer now doubles your best player more often and makes more mid-game adjustments based on game state. After playing most of my time offline for this review, I feel like the subtle changes to the way the AI ​​plays the game make offline play much more enjoyable than in the past.

MyNBA Eras shines

Every NBA 2K player has a mode they sink countless hours into, and that mode for me is MyNBA. As a sports and stats enthusiast, I have long been obsessed with taking charge of each team, making all the decisions for the team and playing the games for them. And, as a Knicks fan, it’s liberating to give the boot to owner James Dolan.

In this year’s episode, Visual Concepts sent a love letter to longtime NBA fans with the new MyNBA eras. The mode introduces four different starting points in the past, players can choose from Magic vs Bird era, Jordan era, Kobe era, and modern era. Each era begins at a significant time in basketball history and transports players to that exact moment to support a franchise of their will.

2K Games

NBA 2K23 with the vintage filter enabled.

Eras features completely realistic retro NBA courts and commentary, as well as vintage logos and uniforms. There’s even a filter that slightly blurs the gameplay to look like older shows, which can be toggled on and off. The lists have been reconstituted with precision as well as the salaries of the players. The gameplay also goes back in time, as ’80s basketball was dominated by big men with their backs to the basket, and three-pointers were rare. The pacing of the game slows down, which is a welcome change of pace from the modern game that plays at lightning speed in transition.

Each part of Eras begins by showing the notable changes that have taken place during that time. In the Magic vs. Bird era, the San Diego Clippers moved to Los Angeles, the Kansas City Kings moved to Sacramento. Over time, players can veto these kinds of changes to see what the league would look like, and playing God of the NBA proves incredibly addictive.

I took over the now defunct Seattle Supersonics during the Magic vs. Bird period and played the 1983 season with mediocre results. I simulated before the potentially busiest 1984 NBA draft in history with Michael Jordan, Akeem Olajuwon (without the “H”), Charles Barkley and John Stockton. Then I dispatched all my picks to catch Jordan first, then dumped All-Star big man Jack Sikma and more players for Olajuwon with the second pick.

nba 2k23 chicago bulls2K Games

NBA 2K23’s MyNBA Eras mode allows for all sorts of crazy scenarios to be played out.

Eras was implemented in MyNBA to meet the biggest guesses in basketball history, and it delivers in every way. I haven’t stopped playing Eras since the game launched, and I definitely won’t stop anytime soon.

Jordan Challenges returns

To celebrate the 23rd year of the century, NBA 2K23 celebrates the legendary career of Michael Jordan and brings back the beloved Jordan Challenges mode that debuted in NBA 2K11. Playing through 15 huge moments from Jordan’s career is engrossing and fun, even if it’s essentially the same as when it was originally released.

For new basketball fans, this is a fantastic history lesson for MJ’s greatest accomplishments, starting with winning the NCAA championship game for North Carolina in 1982 through to the game-winning shot against the Utah Jazz in the 1998 NBA Finals. For basketball addicts, it’s a great trip down memory lane playing every moment and enjoying the attention to detail.

michael jordan nba 2k232K Games

Michael Jordan’s most iconic moments are recreated in NBA 2K23.

The challenges in each mode aren’t a cake walk either, as grabbing tons of rebounds and scoring a bunch while piloting Jordan is harder than it looks, and a testament to his incredible skill.

The cash grab continues

For many, NBA 2K is played primarily to discover the best version of MyPlayer and get it online and participate in ProAMs, pick up games, and more. While that experience is here again, it continues to pay off. Progressing your MyPlayer by collecting VC through games happens at a snail’s pace, completely overwhelmed by simply buying VC and leveling your player up to a higher rating.

It would take an absolutely absurd amount of time to work your way through all the VCs you need to bring your player to their max rating. Paying the full retail price for a game shouldn’t prevent you from accessing all the modes the game offers.

Ditto for the MyTeam mode which returns in an identical form to the previous year. MyTeam is the 2K version of Ultimate Team and plays exactly the same way: play your way through a mediocre team, only to get crushed under the weight of other players laying down their credit cards.

MyCareer feat. J.Cole

MyCareer returns, this year completely revamped with a story mode centered around friendship with star rapper J. Cole. The story mode involved is far more tolerable than its sports game counterparts, as the writing and voice acting actually engaged me in my player’s backstory and relationships.

Considering every other sports game makes me instantly skip cutscenes, and I chose not to in NBA 2K23, I’d say this is a major hit, though not necessarily a highlight. of the game as a whole for me.

Assessment: 8.5/10

NBA 2K23 is almost entirely worth the price of admission due to the quality of the new MyNBA Eras mode. What makes NBA 2K23 the best installment in years are the much-needed gameplay changes, along with the return of the thrilling Jordan Challenge mode. Unfortunately, 2K keeps much of the fun behind an expensive paywall that just can’t be justified.

Tested on PlayStation 5.

About Ronda Reed

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