My name is Veal Tryhard and I’m a basketballing YouTube star. My best friend is my manager, we live in a small apartment in a weird city; one that is filled with people on skateboards. But I have some decisions to make. Do I declare for the NBA draft now? Do I go to college? Do I play in the dirty-sounding G league? The problem is, before I make any of these decisions I have to get an agent, listen to corporate sponsorship deals, and decide what suit I’m going to wear to the latest party. Being Veal Tryhard is hard work. Oh, did I not mention this is a review of NBA 2K22? Let’s get courtside.
NBA 2K22 was always going to arrive, like Christmas and tax returns, it’s an annual outing that we just cannot ignore. The series is still the premier basketball game out there, especially in regards to the brilliantly paced gameplay and realistic-looking courts and matches. It’s a system that has been honed over the years, so much so that 2K22 feels natural, letting you just fit back into it without hassle; even if you’re in the same camp as me, terribly average at best; a C+ in every game.
As always, upon loading up NBA you’ll be treated to a host of options and menus, but let us talk about MyCAREER which I think has changed somewhat this year.
In the last version of NBA – that of 2K21 – you had a sort of serious basketball story evolving, that of a young man living under the shadow of his father, moving his way up the rungs from college basketball to the big leagues. It was serious, hard hitting and I enjoyed it. This year though it’s all change – you are a Youtube sensation living in an imaginary city. When you leave the apartment you’re living in you go out into the city and it’s here where the game changes, switching things up and moving forward with an online multiplayer world, full of players taking in quests. It takes you out of the mood of the story somewhat, especially when you see ten people waiting to talk to a trainer like they’ve just emerged from World of Warcraft.
Your quests, as it were, consist of speaking to this agent and chatting to that reporter, how LeBron has a film production company and taking time to work on your rap career. All this reflects the modern-day sports personality; a world of socials, fans, and PR. But it feels much more like a celebration of all that rather than a parody and personally I rarely cared about what agent I should choose or what sponsorship deal I needed to think about.
If you do get immersed, you’ll find that the script is good in reflecting this and the cutscenes work well. However the world is quite laggy at times, and getting around it is quite dull – even if you are provided with a skateboard.
There are other issues too, like when you create your character you’ll decide for ages on the focus of your stats, but my character disappeared halfway through NBA 2K22 playing out, replaced with a nameless generic one. In fact, the whole thing feels like an experiment, and doesn’t really work as well as it should. But you know what? I think others – perhaps those who are more down with the ‘scene’ – will love it. It’s helped by the inclusion of online matches to be had in street courts, letting you play with randoms and friends if you like. Leveling up requires a lot of grinding though, or of course you could always go down the microtransactions route, but the less said about that the better.
Luckily the rest of NBA 2K22 is, frankly, brilliant; especially as a basketball game. There have been some tweaks here and there to the gameplay from recent years, mostly in regards to shooting and the way the AI defends, and this means it’s better to play. NBA2K fans will no doubt be in their element here, but even as a layman, I’ve loved playing the actual game. That’s a good thing.
Other game modes are obviously present and correct too. MyTEAM works a bit like FIFA’s Ultimate Team, giving you packs to open in the hope that you can put your dream team together, all including players from the past and present. Obviously you can buy packs here as well, but it does encourage you to pick up the packs you need through challenges. It goes without saying that this can fast become life absorbing, pretty much as all these modes do.
MyNBA is the ultimate life drainer as it’s here where you’ll create teams, change rules, build franchises, hire staff, and fire those who are useless. It’s a brilliant addition to the game, allowing for a deep dive into the world without running around on a skateboard talking to your agent.
Visually, NBA 2K22 looks brilliant. From the realistic play animations to the shine of the basketball courts, everything is top-notch in regards to player likenesses and menus. This is something 2K have always excelled with and they don’t put a foot wrong here; in fact, some of the crowds are up there with the best I’ve seen in a sports game. MyCAREER is the only place where it doesn’t quite live up to the high standards of the rest of the game, probably more to do with the always-online world, lag and pop-ins.
Once again they’ve nailed the soundtrack too; NBA 2K22 comes complete with an amazing list of tunes to listen to inbetween games. In MyCAREER, when navigating the city, you can put your headphones on and listen away whilst rolling on your board. In regards to the commentary, and in my humble opinion it sounds on the money, working superbly throughout. The voice acting of the characters is good too, with them delivering a committed performance even if the script sometimes lets them down.
NBA 2K22 is a great basketball game. In fact it’s probably the best basketball game out there and actually hitting the court and playing games is thrilling, exciting, and looks brilliant. And alongside that, MyNBA will eat away at your life; fantastically detailed and absorbing, while MyTEAM will cater to the many. It’s only MyCAREER which lets it down, but that’s possibly more to do with a personal choice and not being bothered by the boring stuff off the court – I don’t want to talk about sponsorship deals or care about whether I look good for my draft party.
Thankfully, the rest of NBA 2K22 will keep me going for another 12 months.
Head to the Xbox Store and hit the court with NBA 2K22 on Xbox Series X|S