As much as fans complain about the annual sports games playing the same thing, NBA 2K22 really does does feel dramatically different. A complete rewrite of defensive gameplay means you can no longer look past 2.7 foot tall inner beasts like they’re made of paper because you actually have to work on developing open looks and paths to the basket. This increase in difficulty is offset by much more maneuverable shooting when you are wide open, which means the ball will fall easier – but only if you have successfully cut your opponent apart.
Overall, it makes for a much more rewarding gaming experience, with intelligent game design and a good understanding of the course reflected in the results. Even online where the demigod MyPlayer once ruled MyCareer, you can now effectively block tricky slashers trying to dribble you into submission and force them to change their approach. There are times when it feels like 2K Sports has gone a little too far: the AI can sometimes appear to be endowed with force fields, but it is penetrable as you learn to use your playbook and the pick -and effect to integrate effectively -rolls.
The best part about these fundamental gameplay changes – which include a new dynamically adjusting shot counter – is that they are being extended to each of the game’s core modes, whether you enjoy collecting cards in MyTeam or your own WNBA superstar Creating in The W makes the action feel tighter and more challenging. There are still some collision issues and cases of warping that put players in the position their animation cycle requires, but the overall pace of the game is brisk and so this is 2K Sports’ best basketball simulation in a while.
But the changes don’t end there: The City, which was first introduced in last year’s next-gen version of NBA 2K21, has undergone a makeover – and integrated MyCareer into it. While the Sandbox still has the symmetrical format of its predecessor, broken down across four different player affiliations, it’s much busier overall – with NPCs added in once-deserted streets that contain much-needed visual interest that makes the place livelier. As in previous games, you can take part in impromptu basketball games in courts around the open world, and this time there is even matchmaking.
While the plot mimics past releases and depicts the exploits of your own personal avatar as he attempts to break into the NBA, it is presented differently. Instead of spending cutscenes with basketball games in between, you’ll take on quests all over the aforementioned city and hang out with agents and PR executives as you forge your campaign. Interact with a range of colorful characters along the way – including your roommate Ricky, who works on a laptop on your kitchen counter most of the time. Unsurprisingly, the plot won’t win any Oscars.
Perhaps most notable is how the game tries to incorporate side activities to complement your performance on the court. Inspired by real stars like LeBron James – who did a theater play with his in the cinema Space Jam Sequel – and Damian Lillard, a part-time rapper, you’ll also be spending your time pursuing careers in fashion and music. That means you can head to recording studios to lay tracks and even strut down the catwalk in the center of town – all for rewards that will add to your overall progress in the game.
It’s not a bad idea, but unfortunately it all feels undercooked. Navigating the city, which you have to do a lot to complete quests, is a hassle – and many of the side activities lack real depth. When the game prompts you to wear a different t-shirt for two minutes to move forward, the novelty quickly wears off, and considering the core game is so strong on the court, the added fluff feels like it would mainly serve to get in the way.
It doesn’t help that the game is plagued with old problems like the fact that you need an exorbitant amount of VC virtual currency in the game to improve your player’s stats and the town itself is full of advertisements. The lowlights include a series of quests involving Jake from the State Farm commercials, which was scanned into the title to promote the virtues of the American insurance company. And he’s not alone: daily quests challenge you to wear the latest drops from global brands like Adidas and Under Armor for rewards while even running your MyPlayers 5G from AT&T in-game phone because it’s natural .
While none of this is particularly out of the ordinary for the series, it’s especially outrageous in a game that is now $ 69.99, and it’s hard to shake off the feeling that the package exists primarily as a vehicle for microtransactions to be sold and gain commercial partners. But while this is a valid criticism, it would dismiss the undeniable achievements elsewhere. For example, in a year that Madden NFL 22 was lauded for integrating offensive and defensive coordinators into its franchise mode, NBA 2K22 introduces an entirely new staffing system into its MyNBA counterpart that lets you oversee a team of 17 people , from coaching staff to sports psychologists.
All of this on top of an industry leading presentation backed up by a superb soundtrack that 2K Sports updates seasonally as the release matures. Compared to the other sports games on the market, this series is in a class of its own in many ways – it has even continued its commitment to raising the profile of the WNBA, and while its MyCareer equivalent, The W, doesn’t have if anywhere near as deep like its male counterpart, keep in mind that FIFA 22 doesn’t even have women’s super league teams. (Though it does add female players to pro clubs, which should be recognized.)
NBA 2K22 spreads a little too thinly from the court, but it’s really making headway. The game’s rewritten defense system makes for a much more enjoyable experience in all modes, making you feel rewarded for using the ball effectively and for the open look. MyCareer’s first foray into non-NBA activity could use a draft, and there is still an over-reliance on advertising and microtransactions. But with one of the most complete franchise modes out there, and with exceptional presentation across the board, this is again a series at the top of their game.