The previous installment, NBA 2K23, truly showcased championship-worthy basketball gameplay, delivering a satisfying on-court experience, an enhanced career mode, and a dose of nostalgic content with features like the Jordan Challenge, all while avoiding aggressive microtransactions. In essence, NBA 2K24 had a solid foundation to build upon.
However, annual sports franchises often struggle to maintain their success and tend to coast after a hit. So, does NBA 2K24 continue the dynasty-building legacy or fall short of the slam dunk from the previous year? Let’s dive into the game once again.
NBA 2K23 made substantial improvements on the court, offering more accessible shooting mechanics, a rebalanced AI that encouraged paint attacks, and improved animations that added a new level of realism and excitement. NBA 2K24 carries on in this direction.
Shooting is even more user-friendly this year. The game introduces a variety of differently shaped shot meters and allows players to fine-tune the feel and timing of their shots. In NBA 2K games, shooting involves pressing and holding the corresponding button or moving the right analog stick, then releasing it at the right moment. The new “Shot Timing Visual Cue” feature lets players specify their preferred release timing, accommodating individual preferences. This enhancement empowers players, making it easier to control sharpshooters like Steph Curry, a three-point maestro.
A significant addition this year is the ProPlay tech, which enables developer Visual Concepts to capture animations directly from real NBA footage. The impact of ProPlay may not be immediately apparent, but watching legends like Kobe, Shaq, or current stars like Nikola Jokic move on the court in a lifelike manner is striking. These animations aren’t just cosmetic; they contribute to a more realistic and engaging gameplay experience, eliminating the feeling of players sliding around the court.
Despite Visual Concepts’ investment in NBA 2K’s animations, there’s room for improvement in the game’s overall visual fidelity. The current engine, which looked impressive in 2020, now lags behind the latest AAA titles and even other sports franchises. The game world feels somewhat flat and lacking vitality in comparison.
As always, NBA 2K24 consists of three main parts: MyCareer, MyNBA, and MyTeam. MyCareer this year sheds the pretense of being a “story” mode. While previous iterations featured elaborate cinematic prologues, this time, even the basic rising star narrative and role-playing elements from the last year’s game have been removed. In NBA 2K24, you start as a rookie NBA sensation earmarked as the next LeBron James, aiming to rise through the ranks by earning GOAT points through victories, championships, and completing various challenges. While some may miss the spectacle of previous NBA 2K career modes, this year’s setup, borrowing from MLB The Show’s “March to October” mode, offers a more streamlined experience, focusing on key games with unique objectives, allowing players to advance quickly.
Your MyCareer activities are centered around The City, an open hub that also houses online multiplayer features. The redesigned seaside town layout reduces navigation time, making it more convenient for those who enjoy playing on the Rec and Pro-Am courts.
In other modes, MyNBA management remains largely unchanged, with the addition of the LeBron James historical era being the standout feature. MyTeam, an Ultimate-Team-style mode, introduces a new marketplace where players can purchase individual cards instead of relying on randomized packs. While this change is welcome in some respects, it comes with the removal of the auction house, giving 2K more control over the process. The WNBA content, as usual, lags behind the men’s offerings but has seen some improvements in the W career mode.
Following last year’s Jordan Challenge, Mamba Moments guides players through the highlights of Kobe Bryant’s career. Although similar in approach, Mamba Moments features fewer chapters and less elaborate presentation compared to the Jordan Challenge. Kobe’s career may not have had as many iconic moments as Jordan’s, but there was potential for a deeper exploration.
Lastly, it wouldn’t be an NBA 2K review without discussing the game’s monetization. While NBA 2K23 introduced content like the Jordan Challenge and MyNBA Eras without a heavy focus on microtransactions, these have stagnated or regressed in NBA 2K24. Monetization in MyCareer has been intensified, making it more challenging to earn currency, and badges can regress if not used frequently, encouraging more grinding and spending. In a sport known for its accessibility, 2K and Visual Concepts could embrace this ethos in their game.
In summary, NBA 2K24 builds upon the strong foundation laid by its predecessor, offering refined gameplay, enhanced animations, and new features like ProPlay. While the visual fidelity could use improvement, the game delivers a satisfying basketball experience. The MyCareer changes, inspired by “March to October,” streamline the mode, and The City has been redesigned for better navigation. Other modes see incremental changes, and Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Moments offer a glimpse into his career. However, the game’s monetization has become more aggressive, which may deter some players. Despite this, NBA 2K24 continues to be a solid choice for basketball enthusiasts.