NBA 2K22 PS5 Review – While I was pumped for NBA 2K21 last year on the PS4, the PS5 version left me cold. Existing content got stretched out more and more, reducing the integrity of said content. I looked forward to NBA 2K22 in hopes that my issues with the previous release would be a thing of the past. In some ways, this latest entry pushes forward; in other ways, it sits firmly on the bench.

NBA 2K22 PS5 Review

Sights, Sounds, And Haptics

Gushing about NBA 2K’s presentation is almost redundant at this point, because the visuals are just so gorgeous and vivid. Every once in a while during timeouts or game breaks, some player animations would look shaky or players would phase into each other, but these never carry into actual matches.

Animations still look clean and crisp, and the courtside sounds hit the mark perfectly. Combine the squeaking of sneakers with that satisfying swish sound from netting a shot, and you feel right at home on NBA 2K22’s court, even if the 3D audio can’t help much from courtside.

Elsewhere, the soundtrack offers up a healthy variety of tracks, most of them vibing, with enough customizability to pick and choose what you want to listen to in your playlist. Commentary leaves a lot to be desired, as they often say the same things time and again, though some of the specific references they make during games add a nice touch once in a while.

Haptic feedback sees a natural progression from last year. Instead of violent, resistant feedback, NBA 2K22 instead manages the intensity of the vibrations based on what you do on the field. For example, if you place your left hand on a player, then the left haptic system activates. This works so well because you can keep an eye on the ball while still keeping track of your opponent.

Playing In Other Ways

The biggest change for me comes with the fundamentals of the game and how NBA 2K22 demands you approach them. Last year, we had more flexibility and forgiveness when making minute mistakes. This year demands discipline, and I live for it, even when I get angry after making dumb mistakes.

Going into NBA 2K22, I was reluctant to shoot using the right joystick controls. However, the game pushes you into training sessions where you utilize posts and fake shots, which the right joystick facilitates nicely. Slight flicks in different directions issue a fake step or shot in that direction, which can then be immediately shifted into a shot. The game forced me to try out joystick controls, and now I want to get proficient with them.

Time and again, the game kicks my tuckus for not understanding and executing specific gameplay details, like naturally shifting from a post into a pass or a shot. At the same time, this constant push inspires me to keep getting better and developing my game.

With other sports games, I tend to grow complacent in repetitive gameplay, but the repetition in NBA 2K22 brings out my drive to develop and perfect how I play. This is where the game entry truly succeeds above all other sports titles.

The Old Two Forward – One Backward Dance

Getting out of position is a death sentence this year. Nine times out of ten, your opponent will make their shot, even three-pointers, especially on the NBA level, if you get caught out of position. This works both ways, too. When you take your shot while wide open, the game grants you more forgiveness when timing your shot. However, when someone stands in your grill, you must time your shot perfectly or you miss every time.

The downside to this comes with something that Madden does from time to time, something I like to call cascading momentum. When a team executes well on both sides of the ball, that team clicks better and performs above their normal levels, leaving the other team cold and stumbling.

There’s a level of realism to this, and overcoming it feels so rewarding. At the same time, it feels like it starts to take effect the moment a team generates a two-score lead. I like that this exists, but it needs a slight nerf so it allows for more organic back and forth that comes with sports, especially with how quickly games go by.

Basketball Influencer

The minimized storyline built into MyCAREER is a basketball player who gained his popularity through the internet, showcasing his skills through social media and streaming sites. Nicknamed MP, he quickly faces adversity around joining the NBA scene from a different starting point.

The dialogue ends up being more fast and loose, which also comes across more naturally. The people MP meets and works with feel interesting without needing too much character development to fulfill their role in a sports story like this, even if a few come across as cheeky or peculiar. All in all, MP’s story lacks the high level production and writing from NBA 2K21, but it has its own natural merit worthy of your time; even if The City bogs it down.

Going into this year’s game, the City had me the most concerned. An open-world-esque setting for a basketball game’s social hub, which includes a complete quest log with objectives to complete, could work as long as it executes its fundamentals well. Unfortunately, open-world fundamentals are forgotten in favor of flare and showmanship.

Stretched Out, City-Wide Neighborhood

Successful open world games saturate the world with things to do and experience, and The City does nothing of the sort. Pick-up basketball games are sprinkled around the large map, where you compete with other online players. The rest of the space features storefronts for customization, sponsorship representatives for building your brand, and great distances between all points of interest.

Filling up the space with sponsored inclusions of Jake from State Farm or plugs for sportswear does not plug the gap. In fact, getting around requires the old fashioned method: on foot. Other means of transportation unlock much, much later (though you do get a skateboard right away that goes as fast as you run), but you need to dedicate a lot of time to even be able to buy them.

Server stability is still rocky, but these are the early days of the game’s release and these teething problems can (hopefully) be ironed out down the line. It also makes sense to have a graphical fidelity reduction going into an open-world setting when compared to courtside, but it stands out big time.

The performance dips to around 30 FPS in this mode, which contradicts courtside aesthetics substantially. In the game’s defense, many NPCs and players roam the space at any one time, so hardware demand is high.

At the same time, the Neighborhood in the PS4 version of NBA 2K21 offered a complete experience like The City does but in a more consolidated space. All factors mentioned here would feel more justified in a space similar to last year’s effort.

Same Old, Same Old

The MyWNBA mode offers basically the same as NBA 2K21. Much like MyNBA, MyWNBA includes a full franchise mode where you start your team at the beginning of the season or even the playoffs and control your franchise every step of the way. Copying and pasting this game mode in both MyNBA and MyWNBA is a kind of give-and-take at the very least.

One unique feature comes in customized scenarios that players create and publish to the server for these two game modes. Setup something crazy, like coming back from 20 down, and publish it for others to attempt. The rewards here are limited to simply fulfilling the challenge along with a bit of team experience points, but it still pads the game’s resume.

The card game modes make the most money for annualized sports titles now, but not every game features a user friendly mode. MLB The Show allows you to play whatever mode you want while still earning credits for its card-based game mode. NBA 2K22 also does this to some extent, allowing you to earn credits you use for buying card packs (as well as customization options for your custom player).

Fouled-Up Choice

Before I wrap this up, I want to mention the way that 2K handles the WNBA. The NBA and WNBA are undisputedly separate leagues; but streetball is universal, and The City is supposed to be about meeting up with random players on the street and shooting hoops. While female NPCs frequent the space, The City only allows male players to enter.

The City could easily include separate paths for these two genders while keeping the mode’s execution the same. The way the story plays out in The City facilitates this approach. You never see the finer details about getting drafted or some of the more specific logistics, instead focusing on the ground level human interactions as opposed to the backend specifics.

Your character also starts out through social media and streaming as an influencer, which is a medium that basically everyone uses now to put themselves out there.

To further this point, the WNBA mode within NBA 2K22 has your WNBA team scrimmage against NBA teams. The game already includes WNBA vs. NBA players, so why the hell not bring that level of integrity to the center stage game mode? For now, that “Anyone, anywhere can hoop” slogan has an invisible asterisk next to it.

Some Great Changes But Too Much of The Same

While The City sounds great on paper, its execution lacks the kind of success that The Neighborhood brought in previous titles. This becomes the greatest foul that NBA 2K22 pulls among a handful of others. Gameplay and visuals remain gorgeous, and the added challenge that the more sophisticated AI brings increases the integrity of the gameplay.

Overall, NBA 2K22 remains a strong outing, but no matter how good the gameplay remains, it’s only meant for hardcore fans who can’t get enough of the basketball grind every year.

NBA 2K22 is available now for PS5, PS4, PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series.

Review code kindly provided by publisher.

8

NBA 2K22 does many things well, most of which has already been done well in the past. Exceptional, challenging gameplay keeps the strength of the game close to its chest, and NBA 2K22 offers an impressive spread of modes to complement that gameplay. Apart from a few misguided choices, the biggest crippling factor this year comes from how The City takes a good idea and stretches it way too thin. NBA 2K22 is great for hardcore fans of the franchise, but it doesn’t leave the door open for many others.