When the original NBA 2K video game was introduced in 1999, few players would have envisaged just how far the title would progress in the following 23 years. With updated versions now being released on an annual basis, the game is unrecognizable from that first edition.
Sega Sports were the first publishers of NBA 2K with 2K Sports taking over in 2005. It’s available across all platforms and has sold millions of copies since its initial release.
In 2022, the latest upgrade has arrived but has NBA 2k22 lived up to its expectations or has it left gamers wanting more?
Established titles will always have a loyal following but it has to continually compete in order to win over new players. Basketball is hugely popular with millions tuning into the NBA while associated industries benefit from that interest.
TV advertising comes at a premium while an uptake in NBA betting since 2018 produces substantial revenue. Among the bettors and viewers are a whole host of potential customers who have yet to switch on to gaming.
NBA 2K isn’t the only basketball game around so the publishers have to make it stand out on the shelves. This year, the cover features a WNBA player for the first time. Candace Parker of Chicago Sky takes the honors and that should resonate with 2k Sports’ female customer base.
Focusing on Gameplay
Aesthetics are important during the initial purchase process but a title will stand or fall on its gameplay. All sporting video games need to stay as faithful to the real-life discipline as possible. Throughout the history of the NBA 2K series, the title has developed in order to replicate that but, in the latest release, it covers one of the greatest factors of all.
Over a long and gruelling regular season, games are packed into any sporting week. NBA players get little time away from the court and this means that injury and general fatigue play a huge part.
A number of impartial reviews of NBA 2k22 focus on the new stamina system. Over time, dribbling and sprinting during a game will make a player more tired and this will have an effect on how they perform. If you’re taking that crucial three-pointer after overworking a specific player, there is less chance of them hitting that basket.
Player management is, therefore, much more important in the latest release in this series. When the shot meter shrinks, the chances of two or three points will diminish.
There are other improvements in the playing experience: The ability to steal has also increased with an updated steal meter and there is more of an emphasis on defense as a result.
In the past, it may have all been about attack and scoring more points than your opponent. That is, of course, the essence of basketball but there should always be a balance between offense and defense and NBA 2k22 addresses that issue better than its previous incarnations.
On the Side
One of the biggest criticisms of the latest NBA 2k22 release relates to the many side elements that are attached to the title. The cult of celebrity has always been a part of any sport but that factor has increased in the digital age and since the inception of social media.
NBA 2k22 has additional sides to the release that focus on external issues. Fashion and music play their part to the extent that some reviewers have even compared the series to Grand Theft Auto.
In the latest edition which was released in September 2021, there is an even greater emphasis on these ‘side hustles’. A banging, up to date soundtrack has always been included in the releases but there are twists to the latest edition.
Hip Hop and Rap tends to dominate and, for the first time, new tracks can be added to the playlist as they come out. The developers call this ‘First Fridays’ and, while many have welcomed it, others have asked if it is truly necessary.
Overall, the reviews of NBA 2k22 have been positive and there are good reasons for that. The negative comments largely relate to those side elements and they tend to mask the fact that there have been those improvements in regards to the on court action.
Remember, there’s always the option to hit the mute button for those who aren’t interested in the soundtrack.
The fact that this is the only real downside for some is a good sign in general. The big improvement comes in that stamina system which replicates a vital factor in a team’s performance. In the real-life NBA, fatigue can make the difference between winning and losing and that’s now the case in the video game equivalent.
Along with the other playing upgrades, it’s a clear winner.