I’ll be honest, I haven’t followed basketball as intently as I was a child. In fact, one of my childhood heroes was Michael Jordan. He had skill, charm, charisma and represented perseverance. I don’t think we have to give a recap on the Flu Game. He was untouchable, a God on the court and could defy gravity in all sense of its scientific proving. With that said, I can’t speak as a fan but I can as a gamer. NBA 2K23 on the PlayStation 5 and XBOX Series had a purpose, to go above and beyond player’s expectations. Visual Concepts had the task of reinvigorating the long-standing chalice of sports simulation, but I’m not sure whether their vision of next generation was to improve some facets over others.
Marketing the title as a “true next gen experience” may be somewhat embellishing on strictly additional features and some cosmetic upgrades. Don’t get me wrong, NBA 2K23 still demonstrates an authentic pro-basketball experience, however depending on which mode you choose – and let’s be honest, after completing career you’re going to be smashing out exhibition matches for the foreseeable future – NBA 2K23 on PS5 demonstrates many attributes that mirror its predecessor, with some cosmetic upgrades and viewpoint modifications. Similar foundations are evident within its core mechanics, while aesthetically speaking the title has been polished above and beyond expectation. We thought that developers may have hit a wall in terms of graphical fidelity and all-round realism, but the PlayStation 5 proves that NBA 2K still have some slam dunks left in the tank.
From down town...
Sprinting onto the lacquered maple, I was completely blown away by the incredible redesign each arena had been given. An automatic facelift from NBA 2K22 is apparent, with each skid and slide leaving marks in real time across the polished floorboards. The reflective lighting along with the implementation of ray tracing topples the once jaw-dropping efforts that had been commonplace for the last few years. On PlayStation 5, haptics come into play but are somewhat reliant on the controller’s adaptive triggers rather than the smart rumble the new Dualsense demonstrates. Depending on your skill level, the triggers will either show some retention, or give some leeway, heightening the difficulty of your game in some aspect. But again, these are cosmetic additions, and gameplay remains almost identical to last year.
Few changes to the commentary team, and courtside reporters are made, but nothing discernible. Camera angles are slightly different, but nothing displeasing or jarring. If anything, the foundations of NBA2K remain completely intact. My gripes tend to come from MyCareer, mainly its lacking detail in both design and writing. To be fair, nobody will pay that much attention to the texture mapping of included NPC’s or the cheesy dialogue that’s spouted by characters that carry no weight to your journey to the top. I’ve always found the story mode to be somewhat of a bottlenecked experienced, simply existent to heighten the 2K series premise, but is completely expendable in the long scheme of things. I prefer the arcade-style campaign included in MyNBA, where you can build your favourite team’s experience over a full season.
The Playoffs give players the chance to experience a postseason NBA Championship exhibition, setting up a 16-round bracket where teams face-off and advance through each line-up until there is only two teams left. WNBA seems to have had some slight additions but nothing to the extremities that make it all inclusive, as it’s still overshadowed by everything else in the game, despite having its own segregated category. It may be a step in the right direction, but 2K’s basketball series has some serious work to do if it’s looking to appease fans. It’s becoming quite clear that minor revamps, re-adjusting rosters, and slight technical work with repurposed assets and mechanics have become the norm in annualising the franchise and it’s falling into that trap of becoming the same formula every time.
NBA2K23 continues the trend of its franchise being the leader in sporting titles.
I mean, if it’s not broke don’t fix it. But it’s not that it’s broke, it’s more that it’s growing tired and outdated by the year. Yes, we’ve gone through some tough times in the last two years, and I can excuse that for the sake of having development-from-home be a major factor in each iteration having some slight setbacks. But this might have to be the last time NBA2K gets a pass. I’m not asking for a complex revamp of the title, but something that sets it apart from its predecessors, and goes above and beyond expectation. The NBA2K series has always managed to blur that line, making the player believe what they’re controlling is real life. This year, that perception skips a beat with some unfortunate hitches that strip that immersion slightly. Again, nothing major but there are some instances of lacking detail in character models that remind you it’s just a video game.
✔️ Michael Jordan Showcase is amazing.
✔️ A step in the right direction for the series.
✔️ MyNBA is still a lot of fun.
❌ Definitely in need of some aesthetic improvement.
❌ Microtransactions will hurt the series if it continues down this path.
So let’s talk the main attraction of NBA 2K23, mainly due to it’s numerically implied entry to the franchise. We’ve had Michael Jordan entries in the past, but ’23’ is the number that is bestowed only to those that can hold that weight, and to be frank there has been none better than His Airness. Money Mike and his heralded career are celebrated through an awe inspiring, well produced showcase this year that highlights Jordan’s biggest attractions. June 11, 1997 – The Flu Game, quite possibly Jordan’s most notorious showing. A feverish, ill MJ took the court in what he thought was a case of food poisoning from some bad Pizza he had the night prior.
With objectives laid out, and a slight handicap in place with Jordan’s speed slightly altered to reflect his health the game against the Utah Jazz, is recapped as one of the greatest of all time and players get to relive it in their own way. The beginning of the showcase shows Jordan’s roots, beginning as a rookie in 1982, recruited by the North Carolina Tar Heels for the NCAA Division. A 19 year-old MJ would stun and impress coaches and NBA scouts, as he was looking to make his mark as a future star. So speaking of stars, each round will have three main objectives to complete to which the player will be awarded a star for each one successful.
The showcase is fun to play out, and watch as Jordan’s career catapults into one of the greatest sporting story’s in the history of the game. So from a major high to a major low, NBA 2K23 is unfortunately littered in bugs. I experienced a majority of them during the Jordan showcase where quick time events would freeze characters in place, or teleport them from one side of the court to the other. An example I had was slam dunking the ball with Jordan, then to have MJ hang on the rim until the next point was scored. This continued to be a problem throughout the showcase and hope it will be addressed in a future patch. Clipping through players, and having the ball glitch through the court was an odd occurrence, but wasn’t common. However, experiencing these bugs did deter me from continuing said matches that I was playing unless imperative to the entire experience.
Then we have the unfortunate turn of Microtransactions becoming a major theme in 2K’s sporting titles. A pay to play/pay to win scheme is trickling in slowly, and may be a major problem if it’s not addressed now. In-game currency will only get players so far before having to buy out more currency through their respective platform’s digital store. Yes, NBA2K has been a staple for players purchasing their in-game VC, but it’s now become more apparent that you may have to look to having a net-worthy bankroll to simply upgrade different builds for your team’s stats. I’m of the belief that additional content should be compensated for, in downloadable content (DLC), and possibly exclusive features that aren’t dealt with the base game. But to have a paywall for certain features, and a barrier for players to conclude their experience with monetary consequences is ethically questionable.
Despite this, NBA 2K23’s overall experience is a welcome addition to its franchise. It may not be the biggest upgrade, or the greatest enhancements made to the series but it does itself justice in highlighting one of the greatest sportsmen to ever grace the court in Michael Jordan. Celebrating a hall of fame career, with accolades only few have managed to match. Outside of its showcase, a fun exhibition that will have players slam dunkin’ for hours, and build your own Playoff’s to crown your team Champions. MyCareer may falter, but it’s worth checking out nonetheless, but you know why you’re here. It’s to Slam Jam, with the greatest of all time and be the greatest ever. Regardless of some minor impasses due to microtransactions, NBA2K23 continues the trend of its franchise being the leader in sporting titles.
NBA 2K23 is a basketball video game developed by Visual Concepts and published by Take-Two Interactive under the 2K label, based on the National Basketball Association. It is the 24th installment in the NBA 2K franchise.