The build up to NBA 2K22 was like no other. With 2K seemingly pushing the bar on how late a company can release info about a game, it truly had people worried. Despite all that, though, the 2nd installment of 2K on next gen consoles has exceeded expectations greatly. And it’s become, probably, the most fun NBA 2K title we’ve played in years.
Now one thing you can always expect from the 2K franchise, is to accurately portray the look and feel of an NBA broadcast. NBA 2K22 delivers once again.
There isn’t as big of a wow factor as next gen 2k21 had in this department for good reason, but minor changes and additions are all around within the presentation of the game. From updated halftime shows, plenty of player models that are updated –with some still glaring omissions — crowds as diverse in their clothing as ever, and even minor stuff like changing the score bug are great moves.
But the big one, of course, is the added element of adding every team’s public address (PA) announcer. This addition in my opinion shines brightest when you boot up one of the classic teams in a Play Now game. However, it’s great no matter the mode. As a Knicks fan, hearing Mike Walczewski in the game just adds so much realism to a mode full of it from a broadcast point, that you may forget it’s just a video game at times.
As far as gameplay is concerned, I have to give a round of applause to the development team with the work they’ve done to the defensive side of the ball in NBA 2K22. Although I will say, like after NBA 2K18 aka “The Year Of The Blow By”, they overcorrected in 19 making it nearly impossible to dribble in front of somebody. And a similar thing is happening here in regards to the 1-on-1 on ball and on ball pick and roll defense not letting the defender breath at times.
Yet, they did fix some of the biggest gripes I had with Next-Gen NBA2K last year. First off was the paint defense not being well…defensive, as guys could drive recklessly and be rewarded with a contact dunk no matter where the defender was positioned in the paint.
Well that’s gone as to even trigger a contact dunk now comes down to you mastering a shooting type of meter to consistently jam it home instead of leaving it up to the game. And, along with that, defenders will rotate quickly and stonewall you or send your shot into the 10th row so fast, you really have to come up with a gameplan if you want to consistently perform well once you get inside the paint. And that’s exactly how it should be! If you were the type of player last year who once you got penetration thought it was game over, that doesn’t work anymore. You have to play smarter this year
Another issue I had was I could spam the pick and roll against the computer A.I., and because of their refusal to properly play even the most basic things with the hedge defender, it was the basketball version of a pitch and catch a lot of the time. But thankfully that’s no longer an issue as the previously mentioned defensive rotations will help their teammates out by covering the most immediate threats forcing you to sometimes get to your 3rd or even 4th option on a pick and roll. But with these two changes, in particular, smarter players actually rotate when their number is called it creates a trickle down effect of less high percentage shots overall, giving you the feeling of earning every basket you can generate.
But also like in 2K19, I fear because the computer defense is so stout, gamers will quickly realize their chance of winning greatly increases by playing off ball if they weren’t already. Which I can understand. It doesn’t even make it worth it to try and user defend, although it is better than the past year when computer defenders are playing suffocating defense all in your face.
As far as shooting goes, the meter’s location I thought would be annoying but it’s fine after a game or two. A good thing is that this isn’t a 2k21 situation where nobody could shoot at the start and they had to patch it. What they did though has really put an emphasis on if you consistently hunt for open high quality shots you will make them, and if you shoot stupid shots you will miss.
It’s a simple concept that 2K hasn’t accurately depicted in recent years, and so far I feel they have been true to their word on that. I’m not a fan of players barely missing when they’re wide open, but with the way defense is being played I’ll take that trade off.
The smoothness to the dribbling is also a welcomed addition, while it is a bit more difficult, the added complexity has been fun to get the hang of as we all try to find the different combinations to pull off after the limitations the past few years.
Another thing I’ve noticed is fatigue matters. If you’re a 20-move dribble head, you would get plucked if you’re not careful. If you cause your player to run all around the court just watch how slow his moves get and less effective he becomes. It’s quite annoying really. But I enjoy trying to navigate around it with my players and it’s cool being able to literally feel the sluggishness in your PS5 controller
One thing that I can’t believe that changed as far as gameplay goes are the on the fly substitutions and play calling not really being on the fly anymore. Before you would press the D-pad, and then hit the button of the corresponding play. But now you literally scroll to the play, messing up the flow of the game as you have to stop mid play. So you can forget about trying to access plays on different pages as the play clock would be on three by the time you get there.
With MyLeague, my battle every year with it is: are the sim stats realistic. If Joel Embiid is average 20 and 8 I can’t do it….you know? Well to my surprise things are still a bit off. Point guards and shooting guards are still shooting way too high from the field and from three. Teams as a whole are shooting way too many threes on the higher end and way too few on the lower end. Although adjustable, I wish sim stats were accurate right out the box.
The big addition to MyLeague was the expanded Staff members to each club. I absolutely love how in-depth it is, and the advantages you can have over the other squads in the league depending on what department you allocate your money towards.
Now for some it may suck that we aren’t on a shiny new cruise ship, but I’ll first start by saying that merging the heavy storyline cutscene mode of MyCareer and the City was a great idea. I was surprised how fleshed out The City felt, honestly. It’s like I’m in a legit role playing game. There’s so much to do on the map, whether you want to keep it strictly on the court, off of it focusing on your personal brand, or a little bit of both. The City wasn’t as well received as they hoped in 2K21, but you’re starting to see their overall vision play out.
2K continues to raise the bar for their MyTeam mode and this year is no exception. The level of customization has been taken up a notch with the ability to create our own shoes in game, and mix and match jerseys wherever you please. The new card grading feature dips into the popular trading card world where you will receive more VC for using a highly graded card, and can even sell it for more on the market. It’s such a cool concept that I can see every MyTeam-esque mode stealing for their own game.
There’s also two new modes: Triple Threat Online: The 100 where the longer you prevent your opponents from scoring 100 total points against you the better prizes you get; My Team Draft which is pretty self-explanatory. After the introduction of Seasons last year, there’s so much you can do in MyTeam that it might be the version that converts those against card-collecting modes once and for all.
After bringing a detailed mode for the WNBA with The W in NBA 2K21, 2K Sports has doubled down with MyWNBA. The mode is a great offering for fans of the WNBA, and goes a long way towards adding more legitimacy to the league.
I know that sounds crazy, but like ESPN adds a sense of legitimacy to a sport by airing it to viewers, games do the same thing. Casual fans care more if they’re given a reason to, and MyWNBA does just that.
There are some elements missing in MyWNBA that I’d like to see like expansion and better customization overall, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction for the mode. Also a disappointment is the career offering of The W. It’s ok, but it can be so much better. I expect that to happen in future installments, but, for now, it lacks the depth some will want.
NBA 2K22 Review Verdict
Despite the rough year 2K had to navigate, I’m impressed with how well made of a game NBA 2K22 is. The gameplay is the best it’s been in years, and the flagship mode MyCareer took big steps this year in ultimately realizing its vision.
Playing NBA 2K22 honestly reminds me of when I first fell in love with the series with 2K1 and I hope throughout the year that feeling remains. Saying there’s something here for everyone is cliche, but this is the first time it’s ever been this true. There’s enough to do that, no matter the type of player you are, you’ll find hours of entertainment.
When’s the last time you could truly say that about a sports game?
NBA 2K22 Review
NBA 2K22 is a game that has something for everyone to enjoy, and brings back memories of the game’s glory years. It’s a shining example of how sports games on the PS5 and Xbox Series X should be.