The NBA Playgrounds franchise is now under the 2K banner! Find out if this over-the-top basketball game is worth your time in our NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 Review!
|Release Date||October 15, 2018|
*A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by 2K Games for review purposes*
NBA 2K Playgrounds 2 expands on the solid foundation of its predecessor by including 2 brand-new game modes to keep players coming back to the game. The gameplay hasn’t changed much from the original game. It also doesn’t contain nearly as much depth as my favourite arcade series, NBA Street, but it does manage to bring out a bit of a different style and feel to arcade basketball.
Playgrounds 2 is pretty similar in gameplay to the original. The shooting bare has changed from a bar to a semi-circle, but you’re still stopping the moving bar in the green area to hit a shot so it’s more aesthetic than anything. It’s a challenge to land shots, especially for low-level players and it’s one of the most difficult arcade games I’ve played. You can’t just jump on the court and dominate, you have to actually be skilled at your timing and that sets Playgrounds 2 apart from other like-minded games. The crossover animations are really over-the-top and the layups and dunks make you want to keep doing them over and over again with how cool they look. The fun thing about it is that it doesn’t take much to pull all these awesome moves off and it’s consistently rewarding.
The defensive game feels a lot easier in this game than it did in the first game. If you’re in the right position, rebounds are easily attainable and the same goes for blocking. Shoving still drains your power meter, buts it’s not an over-powered tactic anymore. Unless your teammate is nearby, it’s not necessarily going to cause a turnover, it’ll just pop the ball loose.
The Lottery Picks meter is now represented by a basketball in the bottom corners of the screen. These give you a special ability for a short period of time once they start glowing. There are 9 different multipliers that include unlimited sprint, dunk multipliers, and other small advantages. In Playgrounds 2, you can now curse the other team as well. You can do things like cover your net in ice so they can’t score or lower their shooting percentage. I liken these power-ups to Mario Kart power-ups. They can change the game in an instant and it keeps you on your toes knowing that something bad could happen out of nowhere.
Playgrounds 2 features Season Mode replacing the 6 tournaments from the original game. Luckily, this isn’t a full 82-game season, it’s a condensed 14-game schedule with a best of three playoff format for the top 8 teams in each conference. It keeps the action fast and fresh without burning you out. The default length of a game is 3 minutes which means you can knock a whole season out in a couple hours. You even have the opportunity to play through the season with a friend online or locally. There are 4 difficulty levels available if you’re looking for more of a challenge and the CPU players provide some pretty good opposition on even the lighter difficulty levels. Despite these things, I still ended up being bored with it after 4 or 5 games. It just felt like playing exhibition games over and over.
Card-collecting ties into the Season Mode which gives you more of a reason to keep playing through new seasons. As you win championships with each team, you’ll unlock new legends for each one. I picked the Toronto Raptors and the legend happened to be Jakob Poeltl, but there are more notable names like Magic Johnson when you win with the Lakers. Most of these legends have unique animations that really add to their overall appeal. I found myself playing through multiple seasons trying to gain as many new stars as I could. It is worth noting that there are only 3 save slots, so you can’t have a bunch of seasons going at once without deleting some.
As was the case in the original, you have to open card packs to acquire new players. This means that most of the teams will be inaccessible to you until you acquire some of their players to use. You earn in-game currency relatively quickly to buy new packs of cards, but I really don’t like this method. If I want to use a certain team, why not give me a couple lesser-known players to start with while I work up to some of the greats? You can spend real-world money to unlock the entire player collection, but that just feels like a senseless money grab. At least you can gain new players without grinding too much.
Playgrounds 2 features quite the mix of both current and legendary players with guys like Shaquille O’Neal and Michael Jordan being a couple of the most prominent names. I’m guessing the more could be on the way with the new 2K publishing deal. What I did find weird is that a lot of current players are on the wrong teams like Tony Parker on the Spurs. Why not update the roster for release? I’m sure it wouldn’t have taken much time considering the rosters are so thin. I found it weird that some teams have a lot of players while others only have a few as well. I guess that’s because certain teams haven’t had that many notable players in their history, but it still seems strange. The Lakers have 14 players while the Pelicans only have 5. That’s quite a difference.
If you don’t fancy playing the CPU, there is something called Playgrounds Championship which is ranked online play featuring multiple modes and leaderboards. You can play cooperatively against the CPU with an online teammate or competitively either with the CPU or an online teammate. You can even do a 3-point contest online if you’d like. This mode is a bit more robust than the previous game and the online rankings help give you something to strive for. I still think they could have done a little more here, but it’s a step in the right direction.
|Good season mode||Players on wrong teams|
|Fun animations||Have to unlock players before using teams|