|Release Date||September 10, 2021|
The NBA 2K series has long been the best (and currently only) basketball series out there. That seems like a great compliment and, in some ways, it is. This is a game that has been built over years and years of incremental improvements but I really feel like we’ve reached a point where incremental improvements just aren’t good enough anymore. Sports games used to be games I’d play for hours just for the enjoyment of the sport but NBA 2K22 really makes it hard to even want to keep playing beyond a game or two, if you can even get past all the badgering about Virtual Currency and the story elements which just seem to get worse with each new game.
The gameplay is still as solid as it always has been but I really don’t find myself having as much fun as I used to with this game. I’ve been playing it for around the last decade pretty consistently and it seems like it has gone from a good balance between fun and simulation to straight-up slow simulation that doesn’t really resemble the excitement of an actual basketball game. The defence is like a wall and very difficult to get to move around. The interior defence is equally as unforgiven now that there have been some updates to their aggression. Jump shooting feels much more difficult this year than in past years but it’s tailored to how good a player is so that’s part of it. You can turn the shot meter off to go by the animation which is more immersive without that meter sitting in the way. There are a bunch of new dribble moves with the Pro Stick and aggressive skill dunks on the next-gen versions that break up the same-old, same old. It still just felt like such a mundane experience and I lost interest quicker than I ever have in an NBA 2K game before.
The graphics and presentation are second to none in sports games. The player models in NBA 2K22 are better than ever with great facial animations and look as real as you could ever want them to look. One of the cool additions this year is the PA announcer for every individual team in the NBA. How awesome is that? I’m all about personalization to the team and NBA 2K22 does as good a job as ever in making it feel like you’re actually in the home stadium of your favorite team. There are even new halftime shows on next-gen consoles which is a nice touch as well.
MyCareer mode is the definition of a mixed bag to me. The City ends up becoming a hub for your player to do different RPG-like quests which might appeal to some people but it got incredibly annoying to me very quickly. It’s almost too much. The city is just a giant advertisement with things like Jake From State Farm and a Mountain Dew boost station on top of many others. I like the idea of including some brands but this just seemed a little bit over the top to me. They’ve done as good a job as they can with inserting the brands where it makes sense and I like that aspect of it but The City is nothing but a walking billboard.
I will say that it looks really cool and it feels very lived in. You can see other players running around, you have skateboards and bikes to travel with so you can get around fairly quickly. What I really like about MyCareer and The City is that it really gives hardcore fans of this game a lot to do. There are special events all the time and different places where you can go play ball with others out there and listen to music. You’ll never be bored, but to some, this is going to be slightly overwhelming to those who just want to go through their story. I mean, if I wanted go-kart races, I’d play a racing game.
I didn’t feel like the story elements were very good and I felt like the NPCs were really bland and not very interesting. I also hate that you’re called MP, it’s even on your jersey. Why can’t I just be me and pick from a list of names for the announcer to call me like other games? It’s a little thing but I HATE it. I did find that the choices you could make about how you were going to make it to the NBA gave you a lot of flexibility and I loved how easily you could do everything on your time and in your own way.
I loved the addition of a WNBA MyCareer Mode although I’m not sure what it needed to be stripped down and why you couldn’t just choose to play a barebones MyCareer experience or a full experience in The City with WNBA or NBA. That choice was kind of puzzling to me. The other choice that was puzzling was the fact that you can play MyWNBA for multiple seasons on next-gen but only one on previous-gen consoles. Either way, WNBA fans have more to play for now and that’s always a good thing. MyNBA itself now includes MyStaff which goes pretty in-depth with things like sports science and a sleep doctor. There’s also a new Prep Hub for player training so MyNBA continues to be the go-to mode for those that want a great basketball experience with or without friends.
The last thing I want to touch on is the microtransactions. They’re everywhere. Boosts and card packs and everything in between. It’s really hard to escape them and even though there are plenty of ways to be rewarded without them, they’re still shoved down your throat quite a bit, especially in MyTeam and MyCareer. It doesn’t need to be this way and this year it seems to be as bad as ever. This is a $60 or more game depending on what version you shell out for it. Yes, it’s a polished game and a lot of people are going to enjoy it quite a bit but it’s getting tiresome to be bothered with the game wanting you to pay even more for things you really don’t need or would have unlocked via progression. At what point is it too much? I think we’re getting there. This isn’t a problem isolated to 2K, but they seem to be the most egregious offenders on a yearly basis with Madden and FIFA close behind.
If you like basketball, NBA 2K22 has plenty of deep gameplay as it always has and The City in MyCareer is an expanded take on The Neighborhood that will be something players spend A TON of time with. I just don’t feel like enough is changing in this series to upgrade from 2K21 unless you’re really interested in the RPG experience that The City offers and if you don’t like that there isn’t much else to hook you.
|MyCareer has a ton of content||MyCareer can be overwhelming for some|
|Great graphics/presentation||Endless advertising/microtransactions|
|MyStaff adds to MyNBA experience||Very minor upgrades to the actual gameplay|