NBA 2K22 is absolutely a showcase game for this new generation.
The sweat physics, shiny courts, and hard-hitting soundtrack fits the current generation like a glove but that’s not the big story with NBA 2K22.
The franchise feels like it’s heading in a more connected, open direction, really building upon ‘The City’ concept introduced last year. Sometimes for the good, sometimes not.
Last year, I often found The City a laggy mess. It would take a while to populate and when it did I never really felt comfortable about where I was / what I was doing.
But now it’s better than ever as you can wander the streets with other random players. You can hop on a skateboard or a bike to get around faster, take training sessions, random ball-offs, and fulfill a bunch of optional objectives for your MyCareer mode.
That’s another big change this time around as you can make a decision how you want your career to play out. You could start in the G-Leagues, which is more physical and less fanfare. You could opt to play some College Basketball, or if you’re feeling super confident, declare for the draft from the off.
Along the way there’s a series of optional objectives you can dive into if you want to, all in the name of making a name for yourself, and getting drafted. Take interviews, play ball with NBA stars, or just do the work you need to progress your career.
This year, you’re playing an online celebrity who appears to be a little bit distracted with their off court antics. They seem more about building a brand rather than an on-court presence and it’s up to you to help get them back on track.
The back and forth interactions between the player and the manager are pretty fun, with each having fun nicknames for one another, knowing each other since they were young. Although, to be honest, the story doesn’t progress much beyond that. And in that sense, it does feel more simplistic than previous years.
But the main problem NBA 2K22 faces now is that 2K have got a strong, serviceable game on the court that people are familiar with, but it’s one that hasn’t really evolved too much over the last several years. Basically, if you haven’t figured out how it controls and works by now, you’ll be just as lost as before.
Although, the main tweak this time around is the stamina bar which reduces how much dynamic action you can perform in one go. The lower your stamina, the worse your shots will be. So if you’ve just bolted up the court and try to shoot, you’ve got a tougher job when dunking because your energy is depleted.
As a result, you’ll have to be a bit more conservative and aware of how you play. And that does definitely affect the balance of play for the better.
Defensive play has also been improved in blocking rival teams out of the box and poking the ball free so you can have some fun breakaways. I definitely felt more in control of that than before.
Some things stay the same, however. I still find that in MyCareer I can rarely make the AI happy in terms of my performance, no matter how many defensive blocks I make or baskets I dunk, it’s remains hyper critical. I get it, I’m not the best player out there, but cut me some slack.
Quite a few of the technical problems from previous games are also still present, like hard crashes after and during games.
The other issue NBA 2K now faces is the games really aren’t well set up for new players. I think most people coming in will feel a tad overwhelmed with all the features, how tough the games can be and, of course, the landscape of multiplayer.
For the most part, the big changes this year come in the multiplayer portion of the game, where the game seems very insistent on making you spend money to match with other players.
Micro-transactions help boost your stats, and while not essential, get you a better overall rating much quicker. You could spend a long time building this up yourself without spending a penny but things take a long time to build up and unlock. A very long time.
It seems the future of the franchise is heading in this connected direction and it has been for several years now, so 2K aren’t looking to make those changes anytime soon.
NBA 2K22 remains an entertaining entry in this ever-growing franchise. There’s lots of smart changes and good adjustments that make this instalment even more interesting to play, but there is also a lot of familiarity and unsettling extras which are starting to hold the entire property back with each passing year.
+ Smart adjustments to the gameplay to keep things relatively fresh
+ Stunning visuals on court and soundtrack off.
+ Flexibility in MyCareer is welcome
+ The City is much improved
– Microtransactions are becoming more costly and invasive
– MyCareer performance cues still seem overly harsh
– Some persistent technical hitches from previous games.
NBA 2K22 is now available on PC, PS, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch
Played on PlayStation 5
Code Kindly Provided by 2K