Wednesday, Oct 4, 2023

NBA 2K23 Review: The Devil's in the Details

NBA 2K23 for PS5

What number of times have you left a theater thinking, "Wow, that was really enjoyable" only to realize that it is ...' and that a small list of little things has started to drip off the page? This is a bit like the experience of NBA 2K23. It's almost impossible not to be impressed with the attention to detail 2K has given this time. Numerous features are notable for the casual basketball fan and the basketball enthusiast.

Yet, there is a certain degree of discontent. While most of this can be reduced to modern sports videogames, there is always a hint of the devil in the details that may lead to a desire for something more. We're still discussing a basketball simulation. I have no other way to describe the intricate MyCareer mode. NBA 2K23 is for those who are more interested in career-driven videogame narratives.

The story is simple: You play the role of MP, a first round draft pick who must win over your fanbase. This fanbase is the same one that boos you selection on Draft Night. Your organization decides not to draft Shep Owens. Shep Owens becomes your ultimate rival.

Your journey begins. While not all lands, players can lose themselves in The City for hours, if they choose. Some dialogue passages are a bit silly and border on the absurd. It feels strange to feel like you are being pushed into becoming someone or something you don't want to be. However, it's believable considering where you are and how hard you were pushed. It's a little odd to be addressed only as "MP" in the game. It's the little things. It's all about taking the good with the bad.

MyCareer's attention to detail is exemplary. There is so much to enjoy, from the seemingly endless selection of clothing and accessories to the bright, bold colors that can be seen, to a city that expands with ease and an almost limitless amount of clothing, there is so much to look forward too. Skateboard around the city and complete quest boxes You can do it! Be aware that there will be some adjustments. You want to be able to wear anything you like while still winning the hearts of millions. You can do it! It costs Virtual Currency (VC), if not more, to upgrade your player off the court than it does on it. It was a painful experience, even with a 100,000 VC headstart.

This is just a guy trying to be cool. (Image Source: 2K Games via Twinfinite)

Imagine a city without cars; a city where basketball lives and breathes; where every corner is filled with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. MyCareer excels in this area, with an incredible level of detail evident throughout the entire game. There are many routes you can take, from the Jordan Challenge's resurrection to a love letter to the NBAs of years past. It is up to the individual to decide how long they want to follow those paths.

NBA 2K has offered its players the opportunity to experience Michael Jordan's most memorable moments for over a decade. They will make sure you are able to feel the intensity of each one this time. Players are able to experience the highs that made Jordan the GOAT we all know. This includes the 1982 National Championship between MJ's North Carolina, Patrick Ewing's Georgetown and his 1998 triumph over the Utah Jazz. This experience is enhanced by the attention to presentation.

While every moment of the Jordan Challenge feels real, some instances can be very challenging. It's a refreshing contrast to trying to recreate these moments in the playground, or in your bedroom, with a small basket and a plush basketball ball. These memories are not necessarily less memorable, especially the latter, but now you can have them all.

MyNBA Eras offers the chance to end the age-old debate: Which NBA era was the best? It's possible, but only on a virtual or simulation plane. Even then, opinions are free. You shouldn't let this distract from the complexity of NBA 2K23's Eras. These snapshots of the past provide players with many options, whether it's the ability to choose between Magic, Bird, Jordan, or Kobe.

Do you remember them? (Image Source: 2K Games via Twinfinite)

You have the option to create your fantasy draft or let these eras unfold as they did. You'll be able to feel the thrill of playing basketball in the 80s and 90s as well as the 2000s. Although the presentation can sometimes seem overwhelming, 2K23's gameplay enhancements make it easier. Even though the AI occasionally stumbles at points, this feels like a basketball game. Increasing the difficulty will make up for any missteps. It's not always easy to find the right balance between authentic gameplay, and an engaging experience. However, 2K does a great job.

While it can sometimes be confusing to see what your player does well and what they do poorly in-game, it is understandable that most players will struggle in their first NBA season. This is especially true in this area, where upgrading is not an option and you are at a disadvantage. It all comes down to how much time you are willing to give up. MyCareer might not be right for you if you don't feel like grinding every day. If you are willing to take the chips where they fall, hours of fun can be lost in this same mode.

NBA 2K23 is a rich history game. Every detail is meticulous. You can lose yourself in years of history and see what the future might have looked like if things had changed over the years. The gameplay and presentation are the main focus, while the number of customization options feels more prominent than ever. There is something for everyone, from signature jump shots to various dunking styles, suits, tattoos, skateboards and everything in between.

And that's why it is so difficult to look past the impact microtransactions--specifically in the form of VC with regards to NBA 2K23--already has and will continue to have on games of this nature. It's easy to feel a bit cynical despite the hours of entertainment that can be had throughout The City and the NBA's history. This is the microtransaction.

NBA 2K23 is a great simulation for those who want a real-life experience. You will find plenty to do if you don't want to invest in MyTeam or MyCareer. It all comes down to what you are willing to do at the door. There will always be something players do or don't want to do. It feels like a major step in the right direction. Underneath, however, I keep imagining 'What If ...''. This is why it's so difficult for me to see past the elephant in the room.