Game review: NBA 2K22 (PS5)
Sports games are hard to innovate mainly because they come out every year, and it's difficult to truly make them feel special. However, 2K Sports is still trying its best to make the NBA 2K franchise the best sports series in the entire video game industry.
The NBA 2K franchise got a decent boost last year because NBA 2K21 was the first in the series to debut on the new PS5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles. While the gameplay was relatively the same, the next-generation graphics were to die for on the newer hardware.
Well, this year, we see another release in the series with NBA 2K22 on all major platforms. FutureFive NZ was lucky enough to review and play both the PS4 and PS5 versions of the game.
Graphically, NBA 2K22 still remains to be the best looking sports game available on the market. The character models are very photorealistic, and the game captures the electric atmosphere of an NBA arena quite perfectly.
While the PS4 version still looks pretty fancy in its own right, the PS5 version is visually superior. If you have a choice to get either version, it's best to get it on PS5 as the graphics are superior on the newer system. The hairstyles are more realistic, and the sweat looks better on PS5 too.
The one thing I was surprised about both versions were the loading times. Understandably the PS4 loads times are much slower, although the PS5 version isn't as fast as I thought. I'm used to playing PS5 games that load up instantly, but in NBA 2K22, the load times are kind of slow for PS5's standards. Also, the load times are much slower if you are in the city for the MyCAREER game mode.
In terms of gameplay, developer Visual Concepts takes further steps to make NBA 2K22 feel like a true basketball simulation. Even though I have played several NBA 2K games over the last few years, this year's 2K22 game feels like it has the steepest learning curve.
One of the more recent additions is the newly implemented shot meter that every player has. In the shot meter, you need to try and aim for the centre of the bar by flicking up on the right analogue stick.
Timing the shot meter can be difficult because the sweet spot is different for every player. For example, Australia's Ben Simmon's shot meter is hard to get used to because the player in real life is not good at hitting three-pointers! The timing is different for much better players like Stephen Curry or LeBron James.
The skill of the player is not the only thing that you have to consider too. Your shot will only go in if the player isn't tired or defended by the persistent opponents. To win in this game, you have to be out in the open and pass frequently to your teammates. You cannot just run and dunk as that tactic won't work most of the time.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by the game's newfound difficulty, you can try to manipulate the game's sliders to make you win in your favour. That being said, it's still not guaranteed that you'll be good at the game because constant practice is needed to hone your video game basketball skills.
The PS5's haptic feedback also makes the game more immersive. This is because the back triggers of the controller tighten up when you are up against a defender. It almost feels like you've hit a brick wall that you cannot break through from. This is a feature that you won't feel if you have the PS4 version.
Outside of the normal basketball game, there are several different modes that you can sink your teeth into. Most people will spend time on the MyCAREER mode, where you create a rookie and guide them towards a successful NBA career.
MyCAREER is pretty cool because you live your life like a successful basketball star and live in a cool looking city. You can even ride on a skateboard or bicycle to get to different areas to get around the city. There are also some pick-up games in the city to hone your basketball skills outside of the NBA.
The only thing I don't like about MyCAREER is that it takes a very long time to increase your player's attributes. The first few games I had with my rookie player were very horrible because he would miss pretty much every shot I took. Not to mention his teammates weren't all that great either, so I didn't get any assists too.
You are encouraged to upgrade your player using virtual currency or VC for short. You can earn this by playing lots of games, or you can go the cheap route and use real money to level up faster. Since I didn't feel like paying real money towards the game, levelling up felt like a grind.
Alternatively, 2K Sports was kind enough to this year, so you can have a female career in NBA 2K22 too. The female career mode feels more streamlined as there is no storyline or cutscenes to watch. You pretty much start in the WNBA and can begin your career instantly. I found the female career mode to be less grindy because my player could hit her shots much faster than the male counterpart.
One other thing that bothered me about MyCAREER is that it forces you to be connected online all the time. I usually don't like it when a constant online connection is needed for single-player modes. The only reason 2K Sports has done this is to keep track of your virtual currency.
Another mode that people will spend a lot of time on is MyTEAM. In this mode, you have random card packs to make your own team with players from the past and present. During my first pack, I was lucky enough to get players like Trae Young and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
However, I was disappointed when I realised I couldn't keep these players on my team forever. For some reason, both players' contracts were up, and I had to replace them with other people. This kind of annoyed me because the replacements weren't very good. Not to mention this mode encourages you to gamble if you want to try and pay your way to get better players in the future!
Lastly, some game modes allow you to take your team through the entire NBA and/or WNBA seasons. There's not much else I can say other than it's fun and full of challenging games. Basketball purists will usually find the most fun in playing through the entire season and trying to win a championship.
Overall, NBA 2K22 might not be the most innovative or must-have addition to the franchise, but the core gameplay is fun enough to satisfy most players. It's best to try and get the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions of the game due to the better visuals. Beginners will have to practice since the shot meter is still hard to learn at first.