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Review: NBA 2K22 (Nintendo Switch)

The NBA 2K series has been going through a lot of ups and downs in recent years. The highlights continue to be that the NBA 2K series is the absolute best basketball simulation ever (although that probably has more to do with a lack of competition). Every year, NBA 2K does an amazing job bringing the game of basketball into video game form. The series’ lows remain the same issue year after year. NBA 2K desperately wants more of your money; Microtransactions and ads fill every menu in the game. NBA 2K22 continues this up and down trend. NBA 2K22 on Nintendo Switch is special in many ways and worth buying for every basketball fan. Just know before you jump into the game that microtransactions are everywhere.

While missing some features only reserved for the latest generation consoles, the NBA 2K22 on Switch offers some of the best graphics we’ve ever seen. The details in almost every aspect of the game are top notch, especially if you are playing the game in handheld mode. The players look incredibly realistic, the basketball courts you play on feel like you really are there, and the overall look makes you feel like you are actually watching the game on TV. While a lot of sports games on Nintendo Switch don’t consider the graphics benchmark, NBA 2K22 shows us the great job a developer can do if they consistently support the platform. The games look better every year.

The actual game itself is vastly improved over NBA 2K21. NBA 2K21 introduced a controversial revision of the firing mechanics. The easiest way to explain is that the developers made shooting the ball very complicated. Instead of traditionally holding the button down and timing the shot, a much more complex multi-button approach was taken. It broke when the game launched, and luckily the developers listened and got rid of it in NBA 2K22. Traditional shooting has returned and longtime basketball fans will no doubt welcome it again.

The only new mechanic introduced in NBA 2K22 is a new fatigue system. While player fatigue was previously on the series, this new system has a bigger impact on the game. The fatigue system works like it does in real life; the more ties a player gets, the less effective they are. This new system makes fatigue more important and makes the game a better strategy than ever. Now you need to carefully consider when to overtake your opponent for the ball or to run into the lane for a shot. If you use it too often and too soon, your player will get tired for the rest of the game. It makes you think more about these decisions now than you did before. While I wouldn’t call this new mechanic fun, it definitely adds strategy.

Ultimately, NBA 2K22 falls a little flat in its other game modes outside of the exhibition. The story-driven MyCareer mode honestly doesn’t make any sense at all. In it, you’re a social media star who also happens to play basketball and somehow gets drawn into the NBA. The story is definitely more stupid than it has been in years, but it’s just awful. I would prefer a career mode than following the path to the show from MLB The Show. It’s not story-heavy and focuses on you as a gamer working your way up to the majors. NBA 2K22 is silly to try to be serious, and neither of these works.

Worse, the MyCareer mode can only be played online, likely due to a desperate desire to spend more money on microtransactions. When you spend money in MyCareer mode, you’ll improve your skills faster, and take all the grind and hard work from you to level up your character for you. For around $ 40 (give or take), you can maximize your player’s skills and be the ultimate basketball player. Still, being unable to play this mode offline is a huge disappointment, especially if you are thinking of playing your Switch outside of your home. You will find that an entire game mode is not available at all.

The other big problem with NBA 2K22 is that the remaining game modes are the same as last year, which in turn were the same as the year before. MyTeam, MyGM and MyLeague are identical to NBA 2K21. They didn’t get much of an upgrade, so are fine but not exciting to play with. MyTeam continues the microtransaction trend of requiring you to pay extra cash for “cards” from players that you can use online. MyGM is the same one who takes on and leads a team, just with less personality than in previous years. As for the WNBA content, I’m glad the teams are in the NBA 2K games, but I wish it was more than an afterthought. It really feels like they were just thrown into the game and that’s it. It would be cool to see the WNBA content as part of the overall package, maybe even in MyCareer mode.

In terms of overall performance on Nintendo Switch, NBA 2K22 is very impressive but has some issues. The most important are the loading times. The game takes a long time to load no matter what you’re doing in the game. Sometimes even the simplest “switch to another menu” takes anywhere from a few seconds to 30 seconds to load. If that happens enough times while playing the game, it creates quite a wait. It’s not a deal breaker, especially considering how the game looks and plays on Switch. Just be prepared for a bit of loading.

NBA 2K22 is another great introduction to the fantastic NBA 2K series. Its revamped shooting mechanics, stunning graphics on Switch, and loads of NBA content will keep every basketball fan’s attention for hours. While many modes didn’t get any notable additions and there is a desire to spend money on microtransactions, NBA 2K22 is still a must-have for Switch basketball fans.

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