I’ve written this opening line about a dozen times to try and explain exactly how I feel about NBA 2k23. On the one hand, it does so much right. Never before has the yearly release looked this polished, realistic, and given the player the experience of being a professional basketballer. On the other hand, it constantly holds its biggest and best prizes at a reach, available only to those willing to delve deep into the micro-traction economy. What we’re left with is a game that ultimately either feels bland and unfinished or far too expensive for what you’re actually getting, with your mileage varying depending on your feelings about micro-transactions.
There is a familiarity with NBA 2k23 when you first start up. For those who participate in the annual release, this will seem like another refresh rather than a full redesign. Not much has changed from 2k22; criticism was levelled at that version of the game as well. The gameplay feels a little slower, and the player ratings make no sense as usual, but the world of the NBA is absolutely there. The difficulty level of 2k games has always been on a slightly harder scale when compared to their counterparts over at EA. It lacks the same level of pick-up and play that the likes of Madden & FIFA do. The sport is a lot more technical with shot selection, degree of difficulty, pace and positioning simulating this has always felt challenging when playing the 2k series. Thankfully, the developers know this and have included countless of tutorials to help bring players up to speed in their skills. It would have been nice, however for these tutorials to have been incorporated into the MyCareer section
I’m a big fan of the single-player “story” aspect of sports games. That is what I really enjoy and spend most of my time doing. Living out the fantasy of being an NBA superstar and NBA 2k23 does give you that escapism. The issue lies again the fantasy is the same one available already in 2k22 and 2k21. Outside of a roster refresh, there has not been a level of true change with this entry to justify the upgrade if all you searching for is MyCareer. 2k22 is available for much cheaper and will satisfy those cravings. The true difference in NBA 2k23 is the secret weapon 2k is hoping will pull on the nostalgia strings of an entire generation. Playing Like Mike.
The Jordan Challenges allow you to play through some of the most iconic moments of the legendary basketballers’ career, beginning with the 1982 UNC game against Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in the NCCA Championship. These are developed with a clear love for the man and his contribution to the history of basketball and his status as the greatest of all time. The problem is it’s a little too easy. Jordan is too overpowered. Yes, he’s the greatest of all time, but I shouldn’t feel like I’m not getting any type of challenge out of this. It makes it feel like all these iconic moments in the man’s life were easy for him, which ultimately does him a disservice. In trying to honour the legend, they’ve cheapened him.
NBA 2k23 is a Frankenstein mismatch of a game, with its target audience remaining unclear. Is it for basketball fans who have played these games over and over? Well, why hasn’t there been any real, meaningful change from the previous releases? Is it to bring newcomers in to get excited about the game of basketball? Well, why are tutorials for its highly technical controls and mechanics not implemented into the main story campaign?
For rusted-on fans, you’ll know what you’re getting with this, plus the added benefit of playing as the greatest to ever do it. If you are looking to jump into the series for the first time, it’s not a bad place to start; just know it’ll take some practice.
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