STAFF REVIEW of NBA 2K22 (Xbox Series X)

Thursday, October 7, 2021.
by Daniel Paddy

NBA 2K22 Box art NBA 2K is back with this year's installment, NBA 2K22, which is the first to have been created with the new generation in focus, and it shows. The game is significantly better than last year's version in every way and a lot of work has been put into improving the game where it is really necessary, namely on the court. I'll even go on the record and say that perhaps NBA 2K22 is the most interesting with its changes compared to previous years.

This year, developers Visual Concepts have really taken turns when it comes to the career situation in MyCareer. We have become accustomed to having a career situation based on intermediate sequences and a few matches in between, much like a movie that plays out where we got to play a basketball game in between sometimes. This linear way of career design is now gone and the mode has instead been baked into the online hub, The City (which used to be The Neighborhood, so you understand that it's bigger). Instead of a movie we now get more of a sense of online role-playing within an open world and icons on the map where different things take place.

The whole story takes place almost like you're on a mission, such as visiting either a reporter to increase your celebrity or playing three-on-three against NBA stars to improve your draft chances. Everything is plotted on the map but it makes it very unnecessary to run from place to place. The difference from before in previous NBA 2K games is that this is not an unknown rookie we play, but instead he is called an internet star who has recently started playing basketball. Much of the story is therefore about your image off the court as well.

Personally, I liked the previous version of the story mode as it can get a little obtuse now. An example is when I choose one of two agencies; my agent then told me that I should go out and complain about my lack of playing time even though I had not even had time to play my first game. New for this year is that you can choose between going and playing in college or playing in the C League to improve your draft chances. I choose college, but after my team went out in the first round, I got the chance to play in the C League anyway, or was able to go straight to the draft. This is still the best career mode in sports gaming, as it feels fresh. There are also side quests around town that can have objectives like taking pictures of something special or winning a number of matches.

I can mention that this is where all online gaming takes place with your created character. Playing three-on-three on the street or ranked five-on-five matches in Recreational Room and Pro-Am. The problem I have is that it almost requires you to spend real money to have a chance to compete. Your character starts with 60 rank in knowledge level. If you try to play against others at that level you will have a real problem. In a match I played, as a center, I managed to make eight rebounds. The center in the second team, with 90+ in knowledge level, picked up 18 rebounds by being able to jump higher and be stronger. To get me to level 90 (which is different from player to player of course) I would have to play hundreds of matches to earn the currency required, and as properties get more and more expensive, I don't even want to think about what the cost would be to get out in level 90-100. As a 'free' player, it is very difficult to do and will require a serious commitment.

Speaking of costs, MyTeam is back, of course. The 2K games answer to Ultimate Team is a real cash cow, but they have not bothered to make any major changes. A draft mode has been added where you select one or two cards from five each round until you have put together a full team. Apart from that, the game mode is virtually identical to last year. It is also the game's franchise mode, and actually, there is nothing new to report on here and I would have loved changes that matter to the consumers wanting something new.

Onto the game play then. Here, everything is just as it should be. The presentation is great and the players are usually scary like the real players. This is a beautiful game that got optimized wholly for Xbox Series X|S. We are offered a much better defensive game than before, as it is no longer possible to just run straight through the defense as the players seem to be much smarter. It's also a better flow than before but feels as though players lose stamina much faster when doing a sprint or dribbling. This means that players who just try to run and dribble quickly will get tired much quicker than expected. It is therefore important to find passing routes and use different playing fields, because if players get tired it will be harder to put their shots as the shot meter becomes smaller.

NBA 2K22 is probably best entry that the series has seen in many years. On the court everything flows exactly as it should with many improvements from last year. Unfortunately, microtransactions are still rampant everywhere in the game, and to be able to compete online with your created character or in MyTeam you're almost forced to spend money if you actually want to be competitive. If you have skipped the series in the last year or two, it may be time to take a look now. It is not best of all time, but it has taken a very big step in the right by listening suggestions from its players.

Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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