NBA 2K23 – NBA 2K23 Review – Into a New Dimension

The question is the same every year: are the annual opus of sports licenses worth it? Often caricatured as simple license upgrades, these titles must convince year after year of the benefit of moving forward, hoping to find tweaks to the game. Because if the heart of the game is rarely altered, it is in the details where the differences are made and NBA 2K22 last year sometimes showed the limits of what 2K can still offer to improve its title. It is with all of this in mind that we are launching NBA 2K23, hoping for some form of courage in the choices made by the studio and the least we can say is that we were not disappointed.

Glory of Jordan

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After its edition to the glory of Kobe Bryant last year, 2K bets this time on another NBA legend: Michael Jordan. Well inspired by the success of The Last Dance in Netflix, the game offers us a “Jordan Challenge” mode in which a series of fifteen emblematic matches from Jordan’s career can be played, interspersed with some interventions by key men of the time and archive material. Less staged than the Netflix docu-series, but just as hagiographic, these Jordan Challengers trace their career, from their college debut to their greatest NBA exploits, including the time Team USA sent to the Games Olympics to composite college players (because the NBA refused to send their pros there) brought down the NBA All-Star team in 1984. Beyond the gimmick and joy of playing these history-making games, the real winning move of 2K is having made the decision to transform its title, visually, this time around. Indeed, beyond the players and their faithfully modeled vintage jerseys, everything else is reminiscent of the 80s and 90s: the television locker room (with the scoreboard display), the rooms of yesteryear with a more distant audience and fewer sponsors or even a filter on the image to give the impression of watching a replay of a game on an old cathode ray screen. Effective, this staging takes us back to a time when basketball was different, perhaps calmer and more defensive, and in which spectacular players were scarce. Beyond the Jordan Challenge, we find this same desire to look back with the My NBA mode, which this year also lets you race through different eras. There’s the Magic vs. Bird (80), the Jordan era (90), the Kobe era (early 2000s), and the current era. On each occasion we find the teams and players corresponding to their time, as well as the old-time rules on fouls, with crazy work on the atmosphere and the seasons played that give the feeling of having delivered a basketball game. console. Fascinating, this mode represents a monstrous job that completely revolutionizes NBA 2K single player gameplay, a pretty awesome option that more than ever makes you want to spend many hours in the game. He has taken his retirement for a long time just to immerse himself in parts of NBA history or even for the pleasure of rewriting history playing in the same franchise two stars who marked their time due to their rivalry.

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As for the career mode in which we create our player, we stick to something more classic and similar to its predecessors. Here again, the creation of the basketball player goes through the definition of a style of play that determines the maximum attainable statistics in each skill (to avoid having a pivot who shoots three points as effectively as Curry). Badge Points, which are unlocked based on game stats (scoring a lot of points increases your shot badge, for example), allow you to gain specific abilities that trigger depending on the situation, such as the ability to shoot in front of an opponent, be more efficient when you are behind or have more resistance in the post, etc. In addition, the game continues to reside in the progression with the VC points, obtained in the game (regardless of the modality) or buying them with our money. As for the race itself, 2K emphasizes the progression it borrows from the RPG, with the open city one can run through to get different scripted missions between two NBA games. While still effective, with a taste for exploring “The City” and moving our player forward, the title still suffers from a lot of back and forth made painful by the character’s slowness, including the use of a skateboard. to move a little faster, and for the many falls of frames per second in the most visited areas. However, this NBA 2K23 It offers a smaller city than its predecessor and a subway system to get around quickly, but it’s still clunky, with the feeling that all this disguise is just an excuse to push us into exploring the open world’s many sponsored shops. Stores where you can buy, with the same VC points that allow you to progress, various outfits and accessories to stand out from the rest. Of course, there are plenty of street basketball courts too, but these are accessible from a menu without having to fill up the drive.

a radical delight

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It is also in its gameplay that NBA 2K23 surprises and divides. The gameplay is definitely more accessible, more fluid, faster, with the same priority given to attack: neophytes are much better off there, with a less arid game to practice. Less demanding on opening a shot to hopefully score, we can try things that were previously impossible under pressure and still hope it goes in, especially as more efficient dribbling players pass more easily, even if it means playing defense. it’s particularly frustrating as it seems difficult, if not impossible, to resist certain players. This is a very radical option, unlike NBA 2K22 which was quieter, and it’s a choice I personally welcome, as it saves lives for a game that sometimes tended to lock into elitism in its gameplay. Less strategy oriented to use in real time and more forgiving, the game finds the little touch of madness that was previously missing. A color wheel below the player also allows for better identification of times when the shot or pass is open, with colors changing from green to red depending on the situation to better understand the risk of being intercepted or countered. In the same way, the time bar is easy to understand, to better understand the expected time according to the different shots. The reaction to all of this is that the title quickly becomes a triple, but it’s pretty much in line with modern basketball. And it’s at this point that the NBA eras are lost: the gameplay would have deserved to be heavier, old-fashioned, when you’re playing through an ’80s season when basketball was then much more defensive.

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However, this pleasure does not make us ignore the eternal problem of NBA 2K. They are his VC points, these credits obtained in the game allow us to develop our player, as well as buy cosmetic items and obtain packs in MyTeam mode, the NBA 2K Ultimate Team. And these credits are difficult to obtain, they are around 800 for a victory and correct performance in the career mode with our player and much less in the rest of the modes, when we need a lot of them to get everything the game can offer us. For example, after about ten hours in career mode, we only progressed our character from an overall rating of 60 to 65, a ridiculous rating compared to NBA stars. And it’s a shame, because stingy with VC points, NBA 2K continues to push its players towards its microtransactions (200,000 points are sold for 50 euros) if you want to be competitive in career mode, especially in “The City” where street games against online players are many. If this doesn’t prevent going to the end of career mode, we end up feeling tired of the crumbs of points that the game doles out, artificially lengthening the progression.

NBA 2K23 is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful surprises of the license for a long time. By making a rather radical choice in its gameplay, the title opens up to a wider audience without losing the precision and exacting, at the highest level, for which it is famous. And even more so, it is the investment in the solo that is a pleasure to see, for a license that has neglected this part a lot in recent years in favor of its MyTeam where microtransactions reign. This revives interest in a license that on many occasions has been accused of taking too long and resting on its laurels, even more so since its historical competitor abandoned and disappeared from circulation. We’d like the game to be more honest about the player’s progress in career mode, with less incentive to draw the blue card, and we’re also wary of the consequent slowdowns faced in career mode when exploring the city. However, it must be recognized that NBA 2K23, from the height of its good intentions, its radicalism and its eternal beauty in which we do not stop (because the NBA 2K engine is sublime every year, but we have known that for more than ten years), is the best episode released in years.

Test performed by Hachim0n on playstation5 from a version provided by the publisher.

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