NBA 2K23 review: A fitting tribute to His Highness

The development of NBA 2K series over the past two decades have been incredibly strange to watch. From its humble beginnings on the Sega Dreamcast with Allen Iverson on the cover to dethroning EA Sports’ NBA Livethere has been a ton of success on the virtual court, while microtransaction controversy arose off it. NBA 2K23 doesn’t break away from the nastier aspects that have become associated with the series, but the amazing gameplay on the court and an immersive Jordan Challenge mode make it a great entry in the long-running series.

The biggest feature this year is the amazing Jordan Challenge mode, a collection of 15 games from Michael Jordan’s career that has been expanded since its debut in 2K11. From winning the NCAA Championship with North Carolina to establishing the Chicago Bulls as a dynasty, these are some of the defining moments in basketball and ones players can take part in. Each game is prefaced with excellent video packages featuring players and pundits who discusses the significance of the game, which is a smart way to teach younger players how great “MJ” was and further reinforce his legendary status.

Jordan Challenge also has some replayability as there are three goals to complete in each game, such as collecting a number of rebounds or winning by a certain spread. It’s a truly special and well-produced mode and the type of story lesson that other sports games should try to emulate. We may not be able to see Jordan perform anymore, but it’s still a thrill to watch, to relive those moments and have this legacy live.

NBA 2K23 review: A fitting tribute to His Highness

Playing these games is also a great way to be reminded of how great NBA 2K23‘s gameplay is. When you focus only on the actual basketball on the court, you have one of the smoothest sports games ever developed. Using advanced dribbling maneuvers to break your opponent’s ankles and then draining a jump shot with a perfectly timed button press feels incredible. It’s a level of smoothness that NBA 2K game has that few sports titles can match given the decades of polish and top-notch presentation and commentary it still builds on.

While the Jordan Challenge mode is a breath of fresh air, the utterly bizarre MyCareer and the grinning player gathering in the MyTeam modes leave a mixed taste that dilutes what could be a genre-defining product. It’s been disheartening to see the MyCareer mode change from a great create-a-player mode that was sometimes paired with compelling stories to a bizarre metaverse-type hub filled with rideable skateboards (which have abysmal controls) and this is the most dystopian. . There are ad-filled missions where you meet up with Jake from State Farm for additional experience, ones with weird cameos from horrible influencers with fake personalities like Dr. Disrespect, and others with a whole lot of bloat that gets in the way of actually playing basketball, which makes sense since it wants you to spend in-game currency and then buy more like a real whale.

NBA 2K23 review: A fitting tribute to His Highness

However, there are valuable alternatives away from the MyCareer mode, such as the MyNBA Eras mode, which features four different starting points for players to experience: the 80s of Magic versus Bird, the 90s that Jordan reigned over, the incredible draft class from 2002, when LeBron James entered the league and the current NBA. Even as a semi-lapsed basketball fan, it was great to be able to play with legendary players that I was more familiar with and relive (or rewrite) those moments in a rich franchise mode with all the possibilities that the players have come with to expect, such as offseason moves and managing player morale. This is an incredible mode that significantly increases the game’s replayability to incredible heights and, because of the history infused in it, authenticity to the eras it emulates and the “What if?” scenarios it allows are simply a new high for sports campaigns.

NBA 2K23 is definitely a game with highs and lows, although almost none of the setbacks have to do with the gameplay itself on the pitch. The ads for partners and push towards microtransactions are obnoxious at best and creepy at worst, but the actual basketball is great. With an amazing career mode and the Jordan Challenge showcasing the greatest basketball player of all time, there are meaningful modes away from the dirtier elements that let the highly polished basketball gameplay shine.

SCORE: 8.5/10

Like ComingSoon’s audit policy explains, a score of 8.5 corresponds to “Fantastic”. Although there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds in its goal and leaves a memorable impact.


Disclosure: The publisher provided us with a PlayStation 5 copy NBA 2K23 review. Reviewed on version 1,004,000.

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