Take-Two Interactive plus basketball makes NBA 2K. It has been around for a while as all sports games have. With NBA 2K20, we see the end of a decade of sports gaming evolution with 2K’s annual release. With many sports games that set their own regular release pattern, fans are always expecting updates to improve upon previous games, and there is only so much developers can do to meet the expectations of volatile fan bases. Previous releases like NBA 2K18 and NBA 2K19 can be called successes because of commercial revenue, even though many players in the fan base feel that there is not much development in its yearly releases. The same can, unfortunately, be said for 2K20, which had an appalling launch with a myriad of problems, and this comes after it was touted as being 2K’s best release to date (this review was done post-update, so some of the things I have identified may be different now than they were at launch).
What Is It About?
It is a game about basketball. NBA Live’s dominant competitor. Nothing more to really say than that.
With all sports games that release yearly, one thing that is almost always expected is that graphics are improved, be it slightly or significantly, but players must see a graphical upgrade, and 2K20 has that. It is almost such an expectation for games to have the best graphics our consoles or PCs are capable of outputting that at some point you stop noticing when these upgrades are done, but that should not take away the exemplary job done to improve the graphics from 2K19.
The player build system was one of the most highly anticipated features of this new release because it added another layer to how players can build their MyPlayer. It limits the user to specialize in a specific way that they wish their build to play online or in the MyCareer mode, but I think that is a good thing because we do not need some overpowered rebounder on one end with rapid fast breakability shooting limitless three-pointers on the other end. Balance is key. I personally selected the shooter pie chart, which almost maxes out my shooting and playmaking ability but limits my defending and finishing capabilities (I think also being a 6’1 point guard contributes to it), so I am almost completely useless on the defense but can shoot limitless three-pointers on offense like Steph Curry when I get a shot off.
One last aspect I can appreciate about 2K20 and Take2 Interactive is the effort that is put into the games they develop. Yes, there have been complaints in the past of fans feeling that the company does not care about the opinions of the players, but I can name worse companies (*cough**cough* EA *cough**cough*) that put no effort into pleasing fans’ requests, so even seeing a company making effort in diversifying what a game can offer is welcomed with open arms. With a storyline in the MyCareer mode, different ranges for MyLeague, including the WNBA, MyTeam and even 2KTV, keeping players with up to date information on the game is just something to appreciate, even if not all players may use these features. As they say, there is something for everyone, and 2K strives to make sure there can be something for everyone in this game.
Going back to the shooting, we’ll get into why 2K really needed to pull a Hail Mary to save this game from being dubbed as a flop. The shooting mechanic in the game is worse than 2K19. To be fair, that game had some seriously overpowered jump shot that 2K developers actively worked to make sure players could not just abuse all the time. Sadly, this affected the general jump shot in this game, slowing down the release so much that if a quick draw badge is not equipped on your build, then making your shots in the game may almost seem impossible. It really hurt the enjoyment I get out of playing the game because who doesn’t love putting up a good jumper?
Another negative I had with the game from the moment I launched it on the PS4 was the game speed. If only I could put into words how much I detest slow sports games. FIFA 16 still stays burnt in my mind for being one of the slowest sports games I’ve ever played, but this is NBA, and generally NBA games I’ve played in the past are fast-paced and end-to-end, just like basketball matches are in real life. However, this game feels lethargic, and when you combine that with the slow jump shots, then the game just straight up disappoints when playing with friends.
I am very much a MyCareer player when playing NBA2K, and before 2K20, I played a lot of 2K17, which I did enjoy. Having the new release means I could experiment with different game modes, and I can safely say that MyCareer will still be the best aspect of the game for me. Maybe it is because I’m not a die-hard 2K gamer, but generally nothing entertains me about the MyLeague or MyTeam parts of the game. I opened MyTeam and got a decent starting team consisting of Luka Doncic, AD and Dwayne Wade, then entered one game, got absolutely trashed and went back to the Neighborhood. My 20-point annihilation did not contribute to how I feel about this game mode, but it was rather that I felt no sense of achievement playing this game mode, and maybe other players feel differently, but it was void for me. As for MyLeague, if you like taking control of an NBA roster, then this is the game mode for you, just not for me (yet).
NBA 2K20 is a mixed bag. On one side it adds onto previous releases with welcomed features fans can appreciate and keeps most of the elements that has players coming back to play the game, which is a really strong point for any game. Then, it also has its negatives by bringing in unwanted gameplay changes and not incorporating enough fresh content to make a player feel like they truly spent their money well in buying a new game. I hope that the game’s poor launch does not lead to people discarding it in anticipation for next year’s release, but with the 2K community speaking and 2K already working to fix some of the grievances identified by fans, it might just live up to be the success it was meant to be.
Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch
Release Date: 6th September 2019
Do you agree with our review of NBA 2K20? What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments below.