NBA 2K23 has been released and is one of the most visually stunning sports games we have ever seen.
The game has one of the most authentic presentation styles ever seen in a sports game, as it strives to replicate the glitz and glamor of the NBA on next-generation consoles.
The game we reviewed was played on PlayStation 5 and is one of the very best looking sports games on the market.
There remains a high bar for newbies to clear, however, if they want to dive into the world of NBA 2K22.
We’ve put together an in-depth review of the game and there are a number of facets to the game.
Let’s dive right in below.
NBA 2K23 Review
These are absolutely stunning.
On PS5, 2K have managed to harness the power of the console to show just how beautiful basketball can be.
You’ll get sweat beads on your player’s heads, down their arms and legs, and a degree of uniform degradation when the players are running through and making contact with the defense.
Diving straight into the game shows you just how graphics have moved on from old generations of games.
The basketball action has never looked smoother, and is genuinely amazing to look at.
They’ve even managed to do something that is unheard of in sports games – the crowd looks realistic and it reacts to the action on the court as it happens.
That is a real step forward for the sports games sector, as it has often held games such as FIFA and Madden back in previous generations.
The basketball looks as real as it has ever looked in 2K23.
The nuts and bolts of the NBA 2K23 gameplay are as familiar as ever.
If you’ve played a 2K game before, you’ll know what to expect, but the controls have been tightened up, particularly in attack.
You now have a real degree of control over each player and ankle-breakers are easier than ever to achieve, when you use what is effectively the trick stick, or the right analogue.
The shot selection system also allows pretty much everyone to sink long-range three-pointers.
When you wind up a shot from range, you’ll see a bar that tops out with a little green icon. The better the player you’re controlling, the bigger the green icon. If you hit the green exactly, you’re pretty much guaranteed to sink it.
There is room for error, as tiredness and fatigue can affect whether or not the ball is going down but it’s a simple system to wrap your head around even if this is your first NBA 2K game.
There are also some new flair passes that can be utilized in the game, as well as some fantastic dunking animations.
NBA 2K23 also has adrenaline boosts that are meant to limit how often you can dribble or play aggressively. You’ll get three per player and every time you make a drive, you’ll lose one.
This feels designed for online play, where it could have a balancing effect. Offline, though, it doesn’t really work. If you’re using a retro team such as Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, you’ll notice MJ has the same boosts as a scrub on the other team. That doesn’t really feel fair.
One thing that is tailored almost exclusively to individuals is the jump-shot ratings – you’ll know when you’re using a player like MJ with a jump shot compared to a clunky defensive-minded player. This is excellently utilized.
The defense remains hard to get your head around, however.
The way in which the attacking freedom has been tweaked means that winning the ball back and sprinting down the court on a fast break is all the more difficult.
Any contact whatsoever usually winds up in a foul and a free throw, while you have to be very careful when you try to block because, again, any contact is likely to result in a foul.
It’s a difficult system and one that requires perfect timing and plenty of practice; if you’ve not played an NBA 2K game before, this is almost certain to wind you up.
Persevere, though, because defending properly is a key part of the game and once you master it, it becomes one of the more satisfying elements of the game.
It’s got a high bar of difficulty, though, regardless of how often you’ve played these games before.
Given how easy some of the shooting elements are to get right, it feels particularly cruel that defense requires so much precision.
However, it is great to see so much weight in the game, particularly in terms of on-court tussles as you battle over a rebound or run for a fumble with the opposition.
This is the place where most players are going to spend the majority of their time.
You can create your own MyPlayer and dive into the world of NBA, trying to become a social media star, and looking to climb the ranks in the basketball world.
You can upload your own face scan and get yourself in the game, but regardless of the name you pick, you’re going to be known as ‘MP’.
Throughout your career, you’ll be up against Shep Owens, who gets drafted after you at the start of the game. It remains to be seen exactly where the story goes, but there are plenty of cameos, and Top Takes Daily makes a return too, having featured in other games.
There is also a new Leadership Skill Tree, where you can decide to be a Trailblazer, with brash responses, or a General, with diplomatic responses. Depending on which you pick, there will be on-court objectives, such as making a certain number of assists or a number of shots from range. Completing those objectives will give you and your team a huge boost, albeit a temporary one.
This is an imagination system and it’s going to impact your career further down the line as you aim to carve out your own legacy within the NBA.
One thing that does need to be said off the bat is the fact that the City, the hub within the game that allows for free-roaming, is buggy.
There are a number of players roaming around with exactly the same clothes and face, but there are a variety of interesting ideas. You can unlock vehicles to take you from A to B faster, such as skateboards and go-karts, and there are races involving those items too. It’s no Tony Hawk but it is cool.
There are also distinct shops in which you can spend VC, the in-game currency, and a distinct Black Lives Matter area.
But the game slows to a crawl whenever you enter the City because there are just so many players hanging out.
It’s nice to have an online element to MyPlayer and it isn’t the first time, but we’d expect the City to be a lot smoother on PS5. Instead, you can practically hear the console chugging as it tries to deal with the sheer weight of players.
Be wary of that before heading in, particularly if you’re internet connection isn’t brilliant.
The Jordan Challenge
This is one of the headline features in NBA 2K23 and, wow.
This is one of the most comprehensive and stacked career retrospectives you’ll ever find in a videogame.
The Jordan Challenge is designed to allow you to play through all of the headline moments in MJ’s career, right from the start. It operates like a playable museum.
It begins in 1982, with the National Championship game, when Jordan played for the North Carolina Tar Heels.
You’ll get pre-match interviews with real people who were there, explaining the significance of the moments, and you’ll also have filters over the gameplay taking you back to the time period visually. We turned these off, however, as they make the action rather hard to see, despite how cool they are!
You’ll also get the option to play the 1984 Team USA Scrimmage, Game 2 between the Chicago Bulls and the Boston Celtics, when MJ scored 63 points by himself, Game 5 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1989, all the way up to the Last Dance in 1998.
There are other games in there, but we don’t want to spoil all of them; if you’re an MJ fan, though, you’re going to have a field day in here.
This is an absolutely sensational historic retrospective of Jordan’s career, and playing as him feels smooth as butter. He’s one of the best players ever to appear in an NBA 2K game and the graphics, at times, are staggering.
2K has poured so much time and love into this mode, that it really shows, and one has to say that it serves as much as a fan gaming experience as it does a historical retrospective that can educate newer fans about MJ’s greatness.
It would be very interesting to see this make a return in further editions of NBA 2K; maybe one for Kobe Bryant? We can dream.
But those diving into the mode for the first time may need to pick their jaws up off the floor. It’s sensational.
There’s not really a lot to be said here in terms of new features.
If you love the method of opening packs and seeing what you get as you attempt to assemble a star-studded roster, then MyTeam is for you.
If you don’t, there are alternatives within the game that are just as worthy of your time.
The VC you can accrue in MyTeam does carry over to MyPlayer, though, so it may be worth sinking some time into both modes in order to upgrade your player as you wish. It can be a bit of a grind if you don’t use VC, but it is also to be expected in the current gaming market.
Still, the presentation in MyTeam is second to none, and it’s great to see the game evolving visually in pretty much every instance.
This is absolutely insane.
You can dive into one of four different time periods and attempt to take your team to playoff glory.
The choices on offer are as follows: The Magic vs Bird Era, which will take you back to 1983 and give you the chance to build around an exciting young prospect by the name of Michael Jordan; The Jordan Era, in 1991, which includes the powerhouse Shaquille O’Neal coming to prominence; The Kobe Era, which will give you the opportunity to draft the likes of O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James; The Modern Era, in 2022, which is essentially the standard edition of the mode.
This is one of the most imaginative ideas ever put in a sports game, and each time period features authentic commentary, arenas, and court types.
It’s staggering, and it has us thinking of the potential of transporting this mode into other sports games like FIFA or WWE 2K.
MyNBA Eras is some of the most fun you can have in a basketball game, and it’s just one facet of this overall package.
Bugs and glitches
As we mentioned above, there are some lagging issues in the City and we also noticed some framerate drops, particularly in MyPlayer.
These aren’t all that terrible and it’s not game-breaking in any way, shape or form, but there are some noticeable performance issues in the modes that require an online connection.
As we say, these are nothing to worry about and the framerate dips don’t last more than a couple of seconds, but it is particularly visible on next-gen consoles.
We’re sure that there will be patches in future to iron this out, and make the game as smooth as possible.
As it is, though, some of these issues can be noticeable; be aware as prepare to dive in.
NBA 2K23 is visually stunning and has one of the most accessible versions of the game we’ve ever seen.
When it comes to new players, there is a real opportunity to get to grips with NBA 2K for the very first time.
But those who are 2K aficionados will find a deeper experience than ever before, that is going to keep you playing for the entire season.
There is never a better time to dive into NBA 2K23 and we’ve got to say that it stands out as one of the most content-filled sports games we’ve seen in some time. There is something for everyone and it sincerely justifies it’s AAA price-tag.
Whatever type of player you are, be it an offline baller, or someone who loves to flex online, you’re going to find plenty to dive into.
Small technical gripes aside, this is one of the best sporting games ever. With a patch, that 9.5 becomes a 10.
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