The annual release that is NBA 2K is back with its latest installment. Boasting a whole new MyCareer storyline, which has been the highlight of these games for the past couple of years, along with numerous gameplay improvements, there’s really no question as to who is the reigning Basketball game out there. With literally no competition in sight, is it safe to say that 2K20 is another absolute must buy? Here’s our review for NBA 2K20!
Ok so before anything else, I’ll just say that the hype for the upcoming season is off the charts. Coming from a year that saw the unlikely Toronto Raptors dethrone the dynasty that was the Golden State, coupled with an even crazier off season that moved all of these superstar players like Anthony Davis, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and even Russel Westbrook, the NBA has literally turned itself over and the path to the championship is wide open. You also get all of these exciting rookies like Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett as well as incoming sophomores like Doncic and Young, 2K20 SHOULD be the year (and the game) that possibly the best basketball is to be played.
All of the lights
And it is. To start, we have a brand new MyCareer story. It’s the mode which I enjoy the most because it gives me the chance to be an imaginary player that could possibly take the league by storm. You get to build a player from scratch, choose from a set of archetypes, the works. You are then thrust into a story which I feel is more relatable to an upcoming baller who dreams of making it into the NBA compared to last year. You could not help but root for the underdog making his way back from China in the 2K19 iteration, but somehow the story this year presents itself as a more grounded and true to life journey of a collegiate player.
You are Che, a college senior who, in protest, sits out the final game of his college career because of actions done towards his teammate. From a possible career ending injury to revoked college scholarships, the story this year touches on a lot of topics that made waves in the NBA, from the “Rich Paul” rule to LeBron standing up for the fact that players are more than just athletes after being told to just “shut up and dribble”. It’s a very packed story and lest we forget that this is still a basketball game, MyCareer drives a point and does it well enough to merit the applause.
Springhill entertainment, owned by Lebron James, handled production of this part of the game and the results were evident. A star studded cast featuring Idris Elba, Rosario Dawson, and Thomas Middleditch who, for the life of me, cannot escape the persona of being Richard Hendricks from Silicon Valley, headlines the story entitled “When the lights are brightest”. You’ll also see a lot of cameo appearances, from your encounter with fun guy Kawhi who does not speak a word to brewing up a deal with Fear of God mastermind Jerry Lorenzo, there was certainly a lot of awesome “OH SH**” moments for me during my 4-ish hour playthrough of the story.
If there was anything to nitpick about the whole experience, it was the lack of draft scenes. The whole story literally revolved around the lead up to the draft and when the time finally comes, I don’t even get to see the draft proper? Next thing I know I’m at the post draft press con with my team jersey? That really bummed me out, that should have been a high point that turned anti climactic seeing the draft process go down like that when that should have been the best moment of an aspiring NBA hopeful.
In the end, although kind of cheesy and expected, I’m impressed that LeBron made a personal appearance, he is the executive producer after all. It was great to see him be hands on with the project and being the inspiring leader and role model that he is, I’m quite sure that the scene would motivate aspiring athletes to make their mark in the world, to stand up and let their voices be heard because athletes don’t just shut up and dribble.
Up by 10 going into halftime
There are quite a number of things that I particularly liked in this iteration of the game, first being the great onboarding mode called 2KU, short for 2K University. You see, NBA 2K has been a pretty tough game to control ever since. It takes on sim-style controls, trying to mimic real life actions and translating them into certain control motions that is not the easiest to memorize. There are a ton of moves you can pull off in the game, from euro steps to step back J’s, each of that is faithfully captured into the game and 2KU is there to help you master all of those.
It was already good before but it does quite a splendid job at it in 2K20. You’re probably going to spend around an hour going through all possible combinations and it’s a lot different trying them out during a live game, but 2KU will arm you with enough ammo to take on the next team waiting. I loved the fact that there’s a virtual controller you can mimic to see if you’re doing it correctly or not. That helps out a ton because for me personally, one of the most frustrating things was not knowing whether I was doing it correctly, and this totally eliminates that issue. Controls are as tight as they’ve always been, which 2K has always been known for, and this year is no different.
Speaking of another thing 2K has been known for is the attention to detail. From player models to jerseys and even to the shoes, the game doesn’t slack on effort in this department. As a shoe enthusiast myself, I loved the feeling of being able to see all of these kicks being paraded around by the players. FoG 1’s, BC3’s, LeBron 16’s… there’s so much to look at and the details translate to the game so well that even during an actual game, you can point out what they are wearing. It’s a small thing but adds a level of authenticity to the experience that isn’t easily replicated anywhere else.
Another point of interest for me was the amount of ways to earn VC. I know I know, there are still microtransactions riddled EVERYWHERE on the game (we’ll get to it later) but at the very least, the grind for that next attribute point ain’t as painful. In MyCareer, depending on your draft position, you’ll be given a fixed VC salary for every game on top of your performance. I was drafted by the Lakers and was considered a solid first rounder, bringing my VC salary to 1000 per game. It’s an ample amount, it ain’t enough but at least there’s almost always a reward for whatever you do in the game.
Last would be the revamped badge system, basically something that could improve a player “talent”, if you will. Let’s say your character is a shooter but find yourself struggling getting a green release, then the badge “flexible release” will give more space for error, giving you less of a penalty when getting anything other than a green release. In 2K20, you’ll simply need to perform shooting related actions to level up and earn a point to spend on a badge you choose. This is a great change and gives the player freedom of choice compared to last year, where you had to do a specific action over and over and over again before you get to unlock the badge.
Last Possession, Down by 2
As with the good comes the bad and to start would be my take on the addition of the WNBA. Now don’t get me wrong, the whole idea is fantastic and it’s been a long time coming. The gameplay is great and surprisingly feels way different from the men’s NBA game. I also know quite a number of players like Diana Taurasi and Elena Delle Donne but you know what? My main thing is still Men’s basketball. I played the WNBA mode a couple of times, three times to be exact, and that was about it. The pull to play the mode again was a bit weak for me. Again, don’t get me wrong, I love the idea and the execution is great, I just didn’t feel any reason to play it for more times than I already did. Maybe a couple of iterations down the line? It’s a great alternate game mode but at least for 2K20, it didn’t really get more hours from me than I hoped it would.
MyTeam is another gripe of mine and it ties very closely to how much microtransactions are really just presented to you at every turn. Unless you purchased the Legend Edition of the game, which by the way has the totally awesome Dwyane Wade cover in those Miami colors, you’ll be starting from scratch, doing the grind with a basic roster. You play through different game modes like Domination or Triple Threat to be rewarded with player cards and tokens, which you can use to upgrade your cards into higher tiered ones. Think of MyTeam as a gacha mobile game, where you have to grind X amount of a certain resource, player cards in this case, to advance further. See where microtransactions play a role here?
With the amount of player cards in there and packs costing a small fortune, the frustration of getting a card that you’ll find useful is real and the constant reminder of an easier way out (aka real money) is enough to make you think twice. I personally find it quite upsetting and I can imagine how other people may feel the same way, even though we aren’t being forced to actually make a purchase. It didn’t help that I also found the mode boring compared to MyCareer.
More than anything, I feel that 2K20 is still an incremental update. Sure there’s a new MyCareer story and all these new improvements and features but if I was an avid 2K19 player, the temptation to just update rosters is an enticing one to be quite honest. It’s like an iPhone, if you’re coming from 2-3 generations down, then the pull to upgrade to the latest is alluring and probably the better choice. If you’re just 1 generation down, sticking with it for the next year or so would be a safe bet. I don’t really know how I got iPhone = NBA 2K but I just did. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
What we liked:
- Still the best basketball game out there
- MyCareer has a story that you can relate to more than previous years
- Numerous VC income streams
What we didn’t like:
- The amount of times VC is shown to your face is upsetting
- It’s also still the same basketball game as before, with incremental updates
Verdict: Wait for it…
This time around, I’ll have to go against the flow and tell you guys to just wait for it. With 2K20 being nearly the same game as 2K19, it’s really hard to justify a purchase for this latest installment. Right now, it really boils down to what you want in the game. Are you an avid MyCareer guy and want all the latest bells and whistles? 2K20 is for you. Are you in it just for quick pick up games with your buddies? I think you’re better off updating rosters in 2K19. Don’t get me wrong, 2K20 is a fantastic entry in the series but with just incremental upgrades from last year apart from a new MyCareer story, which is great btw, it’s hard to give a full recommendation for the full 60$ plop. Also, historically speaking, you don’t need to wait too long until the game goes on sale, which makes it a more enticing deal when that eventually comes along.
*NBA 2K20 was reviewed on a PS4 Pro through a review code provided by the publishers.