NBA 2K22 welcomes another iteration of 2K Sports successful basketball simulation. In many ways, it’s a big improvement on last year, especially when it comes to the important gameplay changes. Outside of the on-court action, it makes seldom changes to many of its modes, and there’s a lot that feels similar to previous years. Visual Concepts are masters when it comes to realising a fully authentic experience. Game presentation is spectacular. The commentary is varied, although there is some repetition. Still, NBA 2K22 is a solid effort all round.
NBA 2K22: Let’s go, defence!
One of the biggest improvements is defending. It recent entries, it has been difficult to keep on your opponent. This year, it’s much smoother transitioning between stationary guarding and keeping close when your opposition is on the move. The AI is also much stronger. You feel more confident that teammates will stick to the person their marking. In terms of making a break to the basket, it feels a lot tougher. This forces you to make use of the tactics on the fly to try and hit a lay up or jump shot. It sometimes feels almost impossible to take the ball and rip through the opposition. Fundamentally, strategy is a necessity if you want to grab a bucket.
Shooting feels much more focused and balanced. After introducing the new gauge last year, it was well known that regardless of how close you got to a perfect shot, you’d more than likely miss, even when you’re not close to a defender. Three-pointers hit more frequently, and with a new slow motion camera view, watching Larry Bird or Klay Thompson drain a bucket outside the D is a thing of beauty. Even scoring in the paint happens a lot more. Attention has been put into these areas, making shooting much more successful this year.
Slow and steady
There’s also a greater focus on how stamina effects every aspect of the game. It’s more noticeable online, as you can’t spam the right stick to pull off skills without your shot being effected. Players are now forced to think about every play. Running down the flanks of the court can cost you a solid jump shot as stamina depletes at an efficient rate, meaning you have to play smart. If you’re fatigued, your shot meter shrinks. It’s a great addition to punish both teams that overwork their players. It might not seem like much of an improvement, but it contributes in making games feel more realistic.
I’ve already mentioned how good it looks, but it’s worth delving into again. Player likenesses are astounding, especially the bigger names like LeBron James, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook. Courts are wonderful, and when you have the lights bouncing off them, they’re so realistic. Most coaches look lifelike, but a few don’t quite match their real-life counterparts. This is similar for the lesser known players. Outside of the games, NBA 2K22 looks great elsewhere, such as the much-improved City, where the MyCareer takes place.
NBA 2K22: Run this town
In NBA 2K21, The City was mostly baron. It felt like a great idea in premise, but it hadn’t been given the proper attention it deserved. Now, The City is packed full of quests and people to chat with. There’s loads to do in order to earn Virtual Currency, but it’ll take a lot of grinding to get the gear and equipment you want. Unless you buy the special editions of the game with added VC, it feels like such a chore. You can spend hours grinding to gain VC just to buy your teams kit. Getting around The City takes a while, but skateboards and other vehicles are costly. You have to decide where that hard earned money goes, and with everything you need costing VC, it’s so disheartening.
MyTeam suffers the same downfalls. Daily log in rewards and codes posted on their official MyTeam Twitter account will award you with player cards, but it’ll take more grinding to be in with a chance of getting the best cards. VC is attached to everything you do, and constantly holds you back in every area. I’m not saying you don’t get MT or VC by playing, but when so many people spend real money to get decent players, it holds those with little free money back. It’s as if you’re back at school and everyone has an expensive Nike bag or Doc Martins, while you’re stuck with Asda’s own brand and a backpack from Poundland.
Many of the other modes are the same, with minor changes that feel more tacked on than offering a huge improvement. The Draft Mode in MyTeam is great if you have in-game currency, as you can pick players you might not get a chance to unlock through the grinding process. However, a lack of VC makes this another opportunity missed. The W take a backseat to the men’s modes, despite the WNBA being a genuinely wonderful league. While 2K are making sure women’s basketball is included, it would be cool to see them feature in MyTeam, for example.
NBA 2K22 is a definite improvement on last year’s, particularly in its gameplay. Stamina plays a much more important role, and the ebb and flow of games play out more realistically than ever before. It’s such a shame that VC is everywhere. Unless you have hours to put in, or free money to buy it, there’s a definite divide online. The City is much better than last year, and it’s ridiculously good-looking. I love playing NBA 2K22, and will continue to do so. It’s just a shame I don’t have a lot of free money to invest in some of the items in MyCareer and MyTeam.
Shooting is tighter
Defending has been improved
Stamina changes make a huge difference
The City is much better
Many modes feel the same
VC still hinders progress