NBA2K has been the leading basketball sim on the market for several years, but as is often the case in the transition between 'current-gen' and 'next-gen' consoles, questions have been raised over the game's delivery on multiple platforms.
NBA2K23 has presented itself with a similar user interface (UI) to last years in terms of the menu, with the returning Jordan Challenge mode leading in with the most popular modes MyCareer and MyTeam presented beside it.
Then on the right of these featured modes, you have the 'Play Now', 'MyNBA' and 'WNBA' game modes which you can jump into and either play right away, set up a league or try your hand at 'The W' where you can have a condensed version of MyCareer with your very own created WNBA Player.
Entering into a game mode brings you into the familiar side-scrolling sub-menu where you can customise your game set-ups as you'd like, making it accessible to the user and easy on the eye. The gameplay itself is smoother than ever, with a different feel to years past.
The pause menu is the same as always with the NBA2K presentation, a new set of commentators give the old-school generation teams a different feel, and the introduction of a new colour commentator, Richard Jefferson, has given some of the teams a different feel.
The menus and user interface of MyNBA and MyCareer are the same as last year, with effective access to the important stats, menus and gameplay options you need. MyTeam features new animations and different courts to play on than last year, giving the game a fresh feel. The Jordan Challenges are presented like a MyTeam scenario type 'level system' to take you through the story of MJ's decorated career, and each of the premier game modes opens with either a cutscene or gameplay to draw the user in right away.
There were three cover options this year. The championship and legend edition featured Michael Jordan, while the regular featured Devon Booker. For the second year in a row, 2K included a WNBA cover that provides for two of the greatest women's basketball players ever to hit the floor, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi.
The design of the legend edition Jordan, Booker, and Bird and Taurasi are probably some of the best that 2K has come out with in a long time. The colours are dynamic and eye-popping.
Specifically the WNBA one, the way they have two legends of the game standing in front of their respective teams' cities. On Taurasi's side, it shows Phoenix, while on Bird's side, it shows Seattle and the legendary Space Needle.
For Booker's, the cacti represent Phoenix but also looks like another half of Taurasi's background. The desert is well represented on this year's covers.
One of the most popular modes in NBA2K11 has returned this year with an expanded set of scenarios that take place throughout the career of basketball's GOAT. That is, of course, Michael Jordan. The player gets to control Jordan and his teams throughout his storied career, starting from college through to the 1998 championship game. This game mode is a throwback to the arcade style, story-based game modes of sports games' past and a nod to the series' roots as they began to grow as the lead basketball sim franchise.
What has unequivocally been the biggest money-maker and most popular game mode throughout the 2K franchise has made its unsurprising return this year, with 'The City' being more accessible than last year and a slightly less intrusive narrative to go along with your NBA career.
The past few editions of MyCareer have been weak at best. The addition of The Neighborhood in NBA 2k18 allowed for online gaming on street courts known as the park. For NBA 2k21, they created a new and "improved" home of MyCareer called The City, which is just the neighbourhood but way bigger, and there's more things to do. That became available once the Xbox Series X/S and Playstation 5 came out.
NBA 2k22's MyCareer gameplay was lacklustre. Gamers who don't like to play online versus real people were stuck being forced to do so to advance in the game and your players' careers. They introduced "quests", which is fun but, again, emphasised street play versus single-player. The City was also gigantic, which left a lot of fans disgruntled. There were tons of aspects of gameplay missing that 2k didn't get a grip on.
Now flash forward to now. This year MyCareer is one of the best I've (Lauren) played. The storyline is immersive and really gets you involved.
Your player, known once again by the nickname MP, is drafted to whatever team you choose ahead of rival Shep Owens. From there, you are in charge of winning over your fanbase and making them believe that the team made the correct choice in drafting you one pick ahead of Owens. Just a few hours ago, I won over the City by passing these various quests.
The arena is also highly interactive. You walk into it and can go to the locker room to change into your uniform/streetwear, pick out your accessories, talk to the coach, and walk to the press room. One of my favourite aspects is being able to choose the kind of shoes you want to wear before the game in the arena instead of forgetting to before you load into the game.
Instead of hardcore pushing street play with other people, they allowed you to progress in your career of winning over the fans of the City with J-Cole and former NBA players at these side courts that are away from your affiliation. It's all part of the ultimate quest to win over the City and the fans.
Overall, I'm genuinely enjoying playing MyCareer this year for the first time. It seems like 2k listened to their fans and delivered.
The card-collecting team-building game that's a must-have for any sports sim franchise these days (even including the more database-detailed simulation Out of the Park Baseball) is once again a heavy feature point for NBA2K23. This year, the game mode gives you one development card to build around with some of the more exciting stars in the NBA, including Ja Morant and Joel Embiid.
The mechanics are similar, and it feels like another arcade-type mode with the added element of card collecting and online competition if that's something to your taste. It's delivered well enough, brings you straight into a game as you enter that shows the different types of modes possible and has a fairly navigable interface.
The MyNBA mode has been given a much-needed revamp as it's added in more customisation options than ever. You can pick up a team from any NBA generation from the Magic Johnson and Larry Bird era until now. The rotations and custom rotations work much more smoothly than last year's version, and the default settings seem to be better optimised for an engaging association experience.
While the formatting of the mode is the same, a slightly changed graphical presentation alongside a more accessible morale and coaching system mark an essential improvement to what one may call the deepest mode in NBA2k.
The W is back in this year's edition of NBA2K, and it's pretty similar to last year's version with a slightly different narrative and a few more details about the team's key players. One noticeable trait with the women's players (and the men's, for that matter) is that they play much more like themselves in simulation.
Before in 2K, there used to be a lot of players that felt similar to play with but this year, adjustments to the functions of tendencies have meant that the players you use at least try to play as they do in real life, which is a welcome improvement.
The most essential part of any game, whether action, adventure or sports sim, is how nice it feels to play. NBA2K23 this year feels much better than it was in the past two years.
As mentioned above, the players behave as you'd expect them to on the court in real life, and the adjustments to each game mode have been welcome additions to what was a stagnating franchise. Each game feels unique and different, just like the real NBA, which puts in that added realism that many fans felt was lacking in past entries to the series.
While the MyCareer is still a little limiting early as you need a small fortune of VC to progress your player to even a rotation level, the game itself is really fun in trying out different styles of players and different styles of teams. You could even try your hand at building your own Ben Simmons.
The shot meter is more straightforward than it was last year and seems to reflect the player's jump shot more accurately and defence has been reworked to incorporate a system of 'covering zones' where you can try and cut off a particular driving lane for a player or defend 'straight up as they say on the court. Fatigue operates similarly but doesn't get too disruptive with respect to the flow of the game, and for the first time in what feels like a while, you can draw success from a variety of gameplay styles.
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