NBA 2K22 is finally out, and a lot of us have been waiting for this game since last year. Being the first NBA 2K title to be made specifically for the next-gen consoles, playing on the PS5 and Xbox Series X feels extra special. But is it actually worth the extra dimes you'll spend? We take a look at how good NBA 2K22 brings the brand in our NBA 2K22 review.
Our NBA 2K22 review is based on the PS5 version of the game. Hence, we'll also be covering the next-gen features of NBA 2K22.
What is NBA 2K22?
At this point, not a lot of people who are into gaming would be oblivious to what NBA 2K22 is. But in case you need a refresher, NBA 2K22 is the latest entry in 2K Games' NBA 2K franchise. It's a basketball sports simulation game with players coming from the NBA, WNBA, and the G-Leagues. It makes use of high-tech methods to render the players in the game as accurately and as realistically as possible. Aside from the game on the court, NBA 2K22 also lets players live a fantasy world in MyCAREER, where players get to experience what it's like to play in the NBA, complete with brand deals, training sessions, and contract negotiations.
Let's start our NBA 2K22 review with the gameplay. There's actually a lot to cover, especially with so many game modes available in NBA 2K22. However, what fans should know this early is that NBA 2K22 plays and feels familiar, with some added flair and nuanced changes to how things work that keep the game fresh. In short, if you've been enjoying playing NBA 2K all these years, then most likely you won't find any fault with this one either. The game's polished – the whole playtime we've experienced didn't have any bugs or glitches apart from a handful of visual bugs that sometimes break the immersion. We managed to finish a lot of matches with no issues at all.
As mentioned above, NBA 2K22 plays and feels familiar. Any changes Visual Concepts implemented all bog down to how the simulations work. Defending and offense are the same, with almost the same key mappings as before – perfect for returning players. But there are some noticeable changes that might take some getting used to. The shot timing is slightly tweaked, so players will have to play by ear for their first couple of games.
Defense feels much more weighty now, too, thanks to the DualSense's haptic feedback. Backing down opponents and posting up results in pushback on the buttons you press or hold. Sometimes, your controller will even tighten up the shoulder buttons without your input when you switch to a player defending a more intimidating opponent. These novel changes help make NBA 2K22 feel like a new game, perfect to welcome the next generation of consoles. However, it still doesn't utilize these next-gen features the same way Astro's Playroom or Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart.
NBA 2K22 offers a variety of game modes for players to enjoy. Returning from previous entries are MyNBA, MyWNBA, MyCAREER, MyTEAM, and a variety of other minor game modes, including pick-up games and exhibition matches. Most hardcore players will spend their time with either one of the three main game modes. Those playing across generations of consoles have the benefit of having their MyTEAM progress synchronized between consoles of the same family.
MyCAREER returns, and for next-gen consoles, the entirety of MyCAREER plays out in the New The City. The City, which serves as a hub for various activities for your MyPLAYER, almost feels like it transformed NBA 2K22 into an open-world MMO, complete with quests and NPCs. You see other players walk around and play hoops together, and jumping in and out of pick-up games is seamless. There's even a quick button you can press to fast travel to your apartment. Fast traveling in NBA 2K? Who would've thought? However, The City does make MyCAREER feel bloated. If you just want to experience a straightforward story from draft to championship, you can't do that here. You'll have to go through everything that a player in the NBA would probably go through: brands, branding, contracts, and even the walking from your apartment to the training facility.
Meanwhile, MyTEAM returns and it'll give players the same fun experience they've been having from previous entries with the collectible cards and booster pack opening. Collecting cards feel good with the ability to check your collection at any time, seeing all of the cards you've collected and those you've yet to earn.
As for MyNBA and MyWNBA, the game offers even deeper customization options, as well as bigger spreadsheets for those who want them. There is more back-end stuff that you can manage to make sure that your organization can successfully challenge for a ring. In terms of management, you can choose just how involved you want to be. You can micromanage everything, or simulate everything. But if you do end up getting your hands dirty, you'd be happy to know that there's a lot of things you can consider in building an NBA dynasty from the ground up.
NBA 2K22 provides even more customization options for players. Not only for your MyPLAYER, for the first time ever, MyTEAM allows even deeper customization for your crew. Apart from choosing your team logo and homecourt, you can now choose any jerseys you acquire and set them as your team's uniform.
As for your MyPLAYER, the game's face scan system makes a return, although we didn't have an opportunity to test it out. The game's customization for your character is deep enough to make Sims games blush.
NBA 2K22 MyCAREER offers a story of a social-media-savvy baller who has just arrived in The City. Upon arriving, you're quickly asked to make an important decision for your career: Do you go to college, play in the G-League, or go straight for the NBA Draft? Depending on your answer, your journey will unfold differently. But all roads lead to the NBA League, it just takes up different forms depending on your decision. In our playthrough for this NBA 2K22 review, we chose to play thru college first. We reckoned that having the extra experience in college will help us increase our stats and attributes without spending a dime on VC microtransactions. It does take a while before you make your NBA debut, but having a longer trip to the NBA made the entire journey feel rewarding.
There's not much to say about NBA 2K22‘s story mode except that it largely just met expectations. Those expectations weren't high, anyway, but there's no reason to be disappointed with how 2K Sports and Visual Concepts went with this year's MyCAREER. It just feels like it's bogged down and bloated with how The City is implemented, so it really depends on your taste and appetite for these extra things added on top of the core experience.
As always, 2K Sports and Visual Concepts hit the nail in the head in terms of presentation. The game feels like an authentic replication of NBA programming, right down to the sponsors. Of course, you have the eternal State Farm Assist of the Game coming in every third quarter break, as well as the AT&T 5G dunk replays. Every game feels unique thanks to the addition of local public announcers, a combination of old and newly-recorded voice lines from the announcers, as well as various combinations of camera cut-ins. While playing in resolution mode, however, we noticed some drops in frame rates when the game enters these cut-ins, but they were never persistent.
In terms of realism, NBA 2K22 offers the most realistic-looking character models to date. However, interviews still fall under the curve of the uncanny valley, making players look like rubber latex skin covering robots. There are some interviews that hit the mark – such as those by Lebron James in between quarters – but most of the players still have weird lip-syncing issues, and god, those soulless eyes.
The crowd, no matter how realistic they look, still feel so synthetic, as they all still just animate in a loop of pre-rendered movements. It's not really that important, mind you, but you still wouldn't see people in the crowd walking up and down the aisle, switching seats, or anything else that we haven't seen before. The crowd feels the same as it did last year.
Music and Sound Design
In terms of sound design, everything sounds just right. In our entire time playing the game for this NBA 2K22 review, we didn't experience any bugs in the sound department. We didn't experience hearing any rogue sounds playing out of place. The commentary this year is solid and helps sell the games you play. In our playthrough, we also didn't hear any commentary that felt out of place.
In terms of the music selection, it really boils down to taste. Thankfully, the jukebox this year still has a large collection of varied music for players to choose from and build their own playlists with.
The game doesn't offer a lot of accessibility options for disabled players or colorblind players apart from changing the colors of the shot indicator. However, there are a lot of different settings that indirectly help make the game more accessible. This involves sliders for motion blur, different camera angles (as usually is available in NBA 2K games), different HUD information levels, as well as on-court cues such as shot clock countdown timers on the paint.
In terms of difficulty accessibility, NBA 2K titles always got it covered. From probability sliders that affect the simulation, to basic difficulty options, players can customize the game's difficulty in any way they see fit. Want it to be super easy? Go ahead, move those sliders. Want a harder challenge? Go Hall of Fame. This game has something for everyone, and it's not going to shame you for playing in lower difficulties.
Verdict – Is NBA 2K22 worth your time and money?
The time we spent playing NBA 2K22 was filled with fun moments, most especially since we're big fans of the league anyway. Seeing how this year's entry turned out satisfies us, as there is a lot of new content and changes, especially for the next-gen versions of the game. The decision for fans now boils down to whether or not these next-gen features are worth the extra cost, as the next-gen versions cost slightly more than the current-gen ones. We think that the next-gen versions are worth the additional $10 or so.
Of course, NBA 2K22 will largely appeal to those who are fans of the sport. For those who have no idea what the NBA is or don't like basketball at all, this may be a hard pass. But even then, we feel that those who pick up this game, even those without any idea what the hell basketball is, will appreciate the kind of technical marvel NBA 2K22 for the PS5 has turned out to be.