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Review: NBA 2K23

Published: 13:21, 20 September 2022
Updated: 14:19, 20 September 2022
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NBA 2K23 key art
Does NBA 2K23 offer enough new features or it's more or less the same game as its predecessor?

Another year, another NBA 2K game. But what's new this time around and does the new instalment bring enough new features and improvements to make it worth a buy? 

Year after year for sports games fans worldwide, you try to convince yourself that “this year” will be better, and there will be improvements on the previous year’s editions. Nine out of ten times you preorder and wait for launch day. 

Deep down, you know that there will be insignificant changes, they will fix maybe half of the issues from the year before, and address wrong things in the very game. Myself, I have been a sports games fan for over 20 years, and from my experience, I learned to expect major changes every four to five years - for NBA2K this wasn’t one of those years. 

2K NBA 2K23's MyCareer Mode NBA 2K23's MyCareer Mode is the largest and most involved storyline in franchise history according to 2K

MyCareer 

Most controversial and the most popular mode. This is where all the frustration for the NBA2k players comes from. For example, for your MP to grow to 85+ you need to spend somewhere in the ballpark of 150k-200k VC. That is the price of one full game!

The story skips the usual high school and college drama, we cut right to the team of your choice. Play a couple of games in the summer league, and you’re ready for the regular season. 

In my book this is a good thing, we’re not interested in tutorial-like games with players of the same level, we want to play (and suffer) with big boys. Right after you get drafted, you'll realise that not a single soul who roots for your club loves you - people of your city don’t want you there, instead, they want Shep Owens - the guy that is better, and way more athletic than you. 

2K You'll have to spend around 170k to 200k VC to get your player to 85 overall You'll have to spend around 170k to 200k VC to get your player to 85 overall

The City was ready for his arrival, and you can see shirts with his S logo in the streets, so it's up to you to prove you're better than Shep who will try to drag you down with his social media team. 

So basically, you will play and engage in the community to win them over, which is a bit cheesy but that's fine. Also, in this year’s game, you will have to build out your brand, complete the side missions, set the tone of your voice in leadership, and choose between The General or The Trailblazer. 

This will affect your gameplay, for example for positions close to the basket you would like to be The General, a solid foundation and pillar of your defence. One of the things that have been revamped are affiliations, which are now separated into four corners of the map - South City Vipers, North Side Knights, Western Wildcats and Beasts of the East. As their names suggest you will encounter dragons, castles, dusty canyons and volcano lava-infused tunnels. I think they got a little bit overboard on this but hey, it adds content. 

2K NBA 2K23 - We can't wait to slam dunk with the GOAT No 2, LeBron James. There's the GOAT No.2

Added this year is a new adrenaline boost for each player alongside their stamina bar. Now we have three fuel actions and boosts on actions of steals, crossing the players and jumping for a loose ball. 

This was set so you don't have unlimited stamina to dribble your way through the defence and go back for some more; kudos on that. Overall, the gameplay is quite fluent, there are no breaks in animations, frantic movement when trying to change direction.

Shooting, or jump shots to be precise, have been built from the ground up. All jump shots have timing impact, defensive immunity, release height and release speed which makes a lot more sense. One affects the other, and you will be locked behind height and rating for all of them (no, you can’t be 7 feet 3 inches and drain a half-court shot). AI players are improved too, you are more likely to be double-teamed which can see your teammates open more for you to throw them a dime.

MyTeam 

In concept, this is a card trading game, and you can gather a team of players of any era - and play with them. When you first fire up MyTeam you are greeted with a bunch of complementary cards which are a mix of players, jerseys, shoes and boosts. 

That is just enough to get you started, now comes the hard part. That includes Triple Threat Online (co-op) Clutch Time SP, Exhibitions, Unlimited etc. This is a time snatcher, for sure, and if you are tired of grinding for MyPlayer, you will definitely enjoy this one.

2K Games NBA 2K23 NBA 2K23's Jordan Challenge brings a full slate of classic matches

The Jordan challenge

This mode is back for 2023 for the first time since 2011 when they were a great addition to the base game since it is 2k23 it was a no-brainer that His Airness mode would grace new NBA game once again. For this year, you have 15 challenges, and a bunch of legendary games from MJ’s career. 

Everything from 1982 NC vs Hoyas, The Flu Game up to Michael’s final game in Bulls. This last is a great thread for younger NBA fans that saw The Last Dance, as for me, a kid that grew up in the ’90s this is a welcome game mode. The way that Visual Concepts emulated CRT-like visuals, and lowered saturation on the older games is really on point.

NBA Eras

This mode caters to all NBA fans, you have a sort of time machine where you can play in four eras. The Magic vs Bird, happening in the early 80s where Magic and Bird were duelling it out and the fan base was split. 

You can also control the draft of Jordan and Olajuwon. Following that, we have The Jordan Era, in 1991 you are thrown in the shoes of Jordan’s first stint with the Bulls. You battle Bad Boys of Detroit, Hakeem’s Rockets, Ewing and Knicks and of course, Malone and Stockton with Jazz. 

The Kobe Era takes us back twenty years when Mamba was clashing with KG, Dirk, Tim Duncan and other greats from that era. And last but not least, The Modern Era. It was called MyNBA experience in previous editions but now it follows the pattern of the eras above. You can get your hands dirty with most current rosters and make some new super teams and great trios.

PR NBA 2K23 screenshot showing a player in dribble NBA 2K23 looks very similar to its predecessor

Conclusion

My main gripe with NBA 2K23 is the extremely slow loading of players in The City (current gen console here), unnecessary buildings and locations (that are there just for eye candy), and way too much product placement that really takes away from the immersion of the game.

Overall the score could realistically be lower but the kid in me that grew up playing NBA and watching games has to bump it a bit. And again, next year I will fall for the same old  "new and improved" marketing buzz and put my preorder in.

The Good

  • Classic NBA games
  • MyCareer is still fun as always

The Bad

  • Bloated The City experience
  • Lack of meaningful new features and improvements
8/10

Our Rating

Great

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