Another year, another edition of NBA 2k. So, I have taken it upon myself to play MyCAREER the way it is intended. While I have a pocket full of VC, which is the in-game currency, I will only be spending the VC that I have earned through gameplay and see how enjoyable it can be without having to break into the piggy bank. I missed getting a chance to jump into last year’s edition, so NBA 2K23 is quite fresh for me.
For those new to NBA 2K, welcome. For those who have played previous titles, welcome back. Like 2K’s other sport franchises, this is really reserved for ardent fans of the NBA. The player control and sheer amount of manoeuvrability and moves at the players disposal is immense. Spin moves, post moves, custom dunks, layups, alley-oops, and every other variant of passes, setting screens, calling for screens; the list goes on. I have played these titles for over ten years now and I am still learning new controls.
Now, full disclosure here. I play on Pro difficulty, which means I love and understand the rules of the game but am still coming to grips with the in-depth control scheme of 2K. I also play full 12-minute quarters because I am a bit of a masochist and I love the immersion of it, so it will take me some time to fully complete the story, which thus far has been not too dissimilar to previous journeys. An underdog story at heart, a new player on the scene that overcomes the struggles of fame and being able to play like a star, silencing the haters along the way, though this year’s edition of NBA 2K has hit an all-time high in the levels of cringe in a lot of the dialogue and scenes that feels unnecessary. Unlike some previous stories, the player does not have to play any college games and simply picks the team they wish to be drafted by – mine was the Atlanta Hawks as I was playing a “big man.”
Like previous years, the first thing to do is create the players look, and there are a ton of options to make a player’s appearance almost any shape or size, or players can download the MyNBA2K23 app on their mobile to scan and upload an image of their own face. I have done in in previous games but skipped it for this one, so I can only say from hearsay that there are a lot of players having difficulty getting the scan to work properly, which rings true to my experiences in the past.
Players then have the meticulous task of setting their characters physical size and shape, which directly affect the maximum points that can be spent on the varying attributes. Small players for speed and agility, large players for strength and defence are a general rule of thumb here. A great deal of time can be spent here but I found out that players can be edited later. After setting physicality, the player then sets their max potential on each attribute that adds up to a 99 overall player rating, the highest there is. Each attribute comes with its own set of badges, which can be unlocked through earning badge points throughout gameplay. Badges give the player specific bonuses to each attribute, like being able to chain together dribbles more efficiently or increasing the ability to complete analley-oop from a teammate. Players can then choose a primary and secondary takeover which are earnt through playing well and give the player a boost to specific aspects of their game.
Welcome to The City (for those with next-gen consoles). A metropolis for NBA lovers, full of places to play and plenty of merch. It acts as the central hub to those who want to playout their NBA journey, or just team up with some buddies and rule one of the many courts. There are several subway stations around the city that allow fast travel and it happens with no loading screen. Players can also make use of their skateboard to traverse a little bit faster. In the very center of The City is The Block, where players go to get competitive. It includes:
· The Theater – Instant matchmaking games with an event playlist of four that changes each week.
· Pro-Am – Competitive pick-up games with full NBA rules.
· The REC – 5v5 pick-up games but more casual.
· Ante-Up – Put your money where your mouth is and play for VC.
· Club 2K – A place to hang out with other players.
· Black Lives Matter Court – 3v3 on a new court with support for BLM!
· Kobe Court – 3v3 Kobe tribute!
That is just a small taste of The City. There are four affiliations that each have a location filled with courts in each corner of the map. Players are selected for a random affiliation but there is a way to change if required and I have to say, each location is incredibly unique to their name and absolutely awesome. Seasons make a return from NBA 2K22 also, changing every six weeks and giving players the opportunity to earn rewards for different quests. For a game all about basketball, there is no shortage of things to do.
Character models are not great, not up to scratch for a next-gen title and with its massive 150Gb+ download size I expected more. The lighting, however, is fantastic. When at training, the sun shining on the court glistens brightly and it can at times even be difficult to see clearly, but it is great for immersion which is really what makes this game shine. Movement of players is fluid and realistic during gameplay but somehow falls a bit short for characters during cutscenes.
Music, and specifically hip-hop has a massive influence in the NBA and that does not change here. With a substantial music playlist there is a track there for everyone and J Cole also makes an appearance in the story, being a member of the NBA community. Crowds are LOUD! When your team goes on a good scoring run, they get loud, chanting “Defence, defence,” and if the opposing team drops a bucket, it is a true crowd silencer. It is about as adrenaline pumping as a video game can be and I love it.
Brandon Waite. See Brandon’s full profile here.