Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Games
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Also available on: PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC.
Release: 10th September 2021
NBA 2K22 is the latest instalment in 2K’s NBA franchise. After NBA2K21, which was for the most part advertised as being a next gen NBA game, received a mixed bag when it came to reviews because, well, it wasn't. Players were worried about what would become of NBA2K22, this worry was then compounded when it was revealed that this year's instalment wouldn’t feature a demo, something NBA games usually do. The gaming world invariably assumed the worst and took this as a sign that NBA 2K22 would be the same. Those worries have seemingly been put to rest. NBA 2K22 is clearly and competently a next gen game, there’s no doubting that. And aside from a few stuttering cutscenes the game is extremely smooth, clean and all round satisfying to play.
NBA2K22 is a truly heavy hitter in terms of sports game performance. For the first time, we have an NBA game that feels like a genuine leap forward into the next generation. Graphically, this game is leaps and bounds ahead of what we were served up last time round. Although we were promised a next gen game last year, it's clear that it's not what we were given. This time however, there is a very different feel to it. It's clean, it's flashy and it's extremely smooth. That is apart from a few cutscenes and transition images that were very stuttery and sluggish. This, however, wasn't enough to break the immersion of the game. For the first time, an NBA game genuinely feels like an actual NBA broadcast. This is due to a mixture of the graphics, the announcers and the production value put in to making it seem like a TV broadcast.
Last year I played NBA 2K21 and while I didn't hate it, I found it very frustrating to play. The shooting was extremely difficult to time correctly, the defence was a sloppy mess and the whole thing just felt a little thrown together. This year however, is much, much different. The whole thing feels so sleek, and so meticulously designed to be user friendly. The shooting bar is perfect, the defending is now much more meaningful and one of my favourite new additions is the shot blocking. While NBA games have always had shot blocking, NBA2K22 somehow makes it fun. In my very first game Kevin Durant swatted the ball out of an attacker's hands with some extreme force leading to the ball ending up in the stands. This became a big part of my gameplay. My only real dislike of the game came from the dribbling mechanics. While everything else has been simplified and made more user friendly, they seem to have gone the other way when it comes to dribbling. In previous games I found it pretty easy to get the gang of the skill moves and was able to pull off some genuinely amazing things, whereas so far in NBA2K22 I am unable to replicate any of them. Overall though, the gameplay is much cleaner and feels a lot less based on luck and feels much more within your control.
I haven't delved too deep into the other game modes as yet, my time was focused mainly on Franchise mode and in the effort to get this review out as quickly as possible whilst still maintaining I had played enough hours to be able to form a genuine opinion I focused on 1 game mode. That being said, my time in franchise mode was so good that I am very keen to try the other game modes and will update this review once I have. From the look of things though there's a fair amount of other things for me to try. NBA2K22 appears to be fairly packed with content.
I know the general consensus with sports games is that they are all a copy paste of the previous version, however NBA 2K22 genuinely feels like a giant step up from last year's model. It's clear that a fair amount of effort has gone into making this year's game a much more user friendly, fun experience.
If you like NBA games, you'll love this one. The next gen visuals, the much more user friendly controls and the production value of the actual NBA. If you want a glimpse into the future of sports games, then I’d also highly recommend picking this one up as it serves as a very good tech demo for what sports games could look like in the years to come. Of course, there will always be the gamers who have zero interest in NBA games or sports games in general. I doubt that this game will change your outlook there, however don't let the notion that these games are copy pastes of each other deter you from picking this one up, because it aint.