(This is a review based on some 30 hours of gameplay in Pro mode. Device used: Nintendo Switch Lite.)
MANILA—Part of my teenage life was spent playing NBA 2k13 on the Wii on weeknights, cheating my way out of the console’s purpose of getting me in shape by flicking my wrist to take shots while seated on the couch. It was also my first encounter with the MyCareer mode, in which I built a perimeter monster point guard of my own for the Chicago Bulls.
Since then, my run-in with the 2k franchise has been hearsay about the gradual improving of graphical changes (and occasional visits to the PS4 console arcade pre-pandemic). It remains to be the biggest NBA game title to date, but last year's installment drew a lot of negative reviews on Metacritic from users.
Nintendo as the more affordable alternative in the last-gen console world was known to butcher the quality of their versions of major sporting game titles, which was evidently seen when 2k21 came out. So the question is: Is it still worth to purchase 2k22 for a console for a price similar to other next-gen and last-gen consoles?
This review will touch on some of the game's key features highlighted by 2k, and observations through some 30 hours of gameplay, while focusing on the Nintendo Switch, as some of NBA 2k22's key changes aren't available on last-gen consoles.
The game comes in 3 versions: The Cross-Gen Bundle exclusively for digital versions of the game, and the standard version featuring the face of Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic, and the NBA 75th anniversary version featuring the faces of Dirk Nowitzki, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Kevin Durant.
Opening the game, the player is welcomed with a blue loading screen that often takes long (maybe even enough to take some game-time snack food.).
But gameplay-wise, you are in for a treat, thanks to some key changes to the AI's basketball IQ and the shot meter reintegrated with the game's more advanced fatigue system.
Graphics-wise, it was better than 2k21, but came out a bit laggy on some occasions, quite understandable given the nature of my device.
Some hairlines were pretty inaccurate, but excusable. The shot meter, which sought to adapt to a player's fatigue meter, takes time to get used to as someone who plays the game as casually as possible.
Player movement has leaned more towards basketball-IQ awareness. For instance, as a habit, I always tried to let my player cut through the perimeter as a flimsy way to drive to the paint. But the improved AI player is able to read through that now, forcing the user to short-stop and resort to more tactical techniques to help the team score. It allowed for the player to look for more creative ways to spot the open man.
The advancements, to me, made Pro mode feel like Hall of Fame mode and for the first time, it had me changing my shot meter to align it with the player's percentage rate.
MyCareer (and hoping for The City on the Switch)
MyCareer throughout the years has been formulaic if not generic. While the formula remains the same, 2k22 introduced a few tweaks, with a plot that touches on the rise of a social media influencer who wants to go pro, somewhat aligned to the emergence of YouTube highlight reel to the pro league. In contrast with the rookie showcase to NBA draft story, it is a testament to how the MyCareer feature has come a long way.
The flow of the story, however, can fall flat at times, and maybe 2k could consider adding more subplots the player can explore in the future. Or better, make a The City version that's compatible with the Nintendo Switch.
I have yet to fully explore the MyCruise feature, where players allowed to play some beach-side basketball with other users online, due to technical constraints on my part. But it seems a very promising option and is expected to develop for years to come.
It was quite sad to not be able to experience The City mode merging with MyCareer, and The W mode, or the MyCareer mode for WNBA, with both of these things I wanted to try the most out of the string of updates offered for this year's installment. But hopefully, for the next installment, developers can consider creating versions which are friendly for last-gen consoles such as the Nintendo Switch, the PC, and others.
NBA 2k22 tries earnestly to step away from the formulaic gameplay the franchise has endured for years, improving graphics, AI, while adding features which will make you buy the game beyond the routine roster changes and change in player skills based on the previous season.
So to speak, NBA 2k22 is a step outside for some fresh air, and worth going for in the Nintendo Switch, if you want to have a taste of these features. But if you want the full experience, getting its versions on a next-generation console would be your best bet.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.