NBA 2K24 review: Backcourt violation

NBA 2K24 review: Backcourt violation
2K Games|NBA

Written by 

Lloyd Coombes

Published 

12th Sep 2023 17:00

NBA 2K24 weighs in at more than 150GB on PlayStation 5. I don't tend to kick off reviews with stats like that, and it's not meant to sway you either way (although if you've not got an SSD this may be a dealbreaker), but it's worth mentioning in the age it took to download on my internet, I got to mess around on the practice court for a fair amount of time.

In terms of first impressions, that helped the game leave a very solid one - I'd go so far as to say that NBA 2K24 is the best feeling, best-looking basketball sim I've played in years.

As soon as the rest of its pieces fell into place, though, it became clear that this potential Hall of Famer's shine had been dulled by being dragged in all sorts of positions.

GGRecon Verdict

NBA 2K24 showcases a franchise in need of going back to the fundamentals. Its clumsy implementation of VC is nothing new, but it's now actively hampering the rest of the game - especially given the disappointment of MyCareer.

And yet, on the court, NBA 2K24 remains the finest basketball sim I've played in years - it just needs to find its form again.

Lace-up

NBA 2K24 screenshot showing WNBA player in front of the hoop
Click to enlarge

NBA 2K24's on-court action is superlative, with a big part of that thanks to the new ProPlay technology which makes its debut this year.

The idea is to more accurately recreate each in-game animation as if it's being pulled off on a real court, and in a lot of ways, it works.

Seeing players adjust layup animations under pressure, more realistically diving to prevent a breakaway pass, or just dominating contact dunks never gets old, and while it's only a relatively surface-level update on the work 2K has done to improve physicality over the last few years, it finally feels like it all comes together.

Matches are also a little more difficult now, as defenders throw their weight around a little more. Dribbling techniques I'd abused in games prior felt harder to pull off, leading to fewer fast breaks – at least for a while. Each quarter tends to have a short period where players get into the rhythm of dunking back and forth as boxers trade blows, a far cry from the more technical basketball exhibited for the rest of the match.

The pick and roll has often felt too easy for breaking down defences and creating shooting opportunities, but in NBA 2K24, it feels a little more balanced thanks to the ProPlay system making it harder to simply stop a defender in their tracks as they make a move.

All in all, NBA 2K24 has little to offer in terms of blockbuster gameplay additions, but it all coalesces into a challenging, realistic game of virtual basketball where teams are less likely to run away with things.

Shine bright like a Mamba

NBA 2K24 screenshot showing Kobe Bryant
Click to enlarge

This year's cover star is the late Lakers icon, Kobe Bryant, and it's a treat to relive most of the man's biggest moments on the court. I say most, because the biggest omission here is Kobe's 81-point return in 2006, despite it appearing in in-game stats during broadcast moments.

Still, what matches are here (kicking off in 2001), are great to play through and pay homage to a true NBA legend, working a lot like last year's Jordan Challenges.

Outside of this, though, NBA 2K24's glitzy menus can't hide a lack of new ideas - or in some ways, a clear regression of what came before.

Career Ender

NBA 2K24 Shooting Guard stats page
Click to enlarge

Take MyCareer, for example. What was once a sandbox that grew into a sort of star-studded underdog story is now just an extension of The City. Create your player, set their base stats, and you'll need to wander into the arena to start your first match, with occasional cutscenes interspersed throughout.

Between matches you're free to explore The City, buying new clothes and other branded items, or taking part in pick-up games and more - but, just as it does in real life, money makes this world go round.

Yes, once again VC is like the recurring injury keeping this almost-great from taking the next step. The currency has its merits - I'd love to have something similar in EA Sports FC, for example, where I can earn currency to take into Ultimate Team.

VC touches every aspect of NBA 2K24, which in itself, isn't a bad thing - but the glacial pace at which it's dished out, plus the high price of pretty much any cosmetic in the game, make it tough not to feel like you're being nickel and dimed in every area of The City.

NBA 2K24 screenshot showing The City
Click to enlarge

My created player is a Shooting Guard for the Lakers, and within the first quarter, it was clear that he was completely out of his depth without using VC to buff each of his stats. 2K was kind enough to provide me with the Black Mamba Edition, but within seconds, almost 100k VC was spent to make my player even somewhat competitive right out of the gate.

Your created player is, as the setup goes, a third-generation superstar prospect, and this gives you access to new GOAT skills triggered through in-game matches. It's a little like a power-up, and doesn't make a huge deal of sense (why, when I've missed four three-pointers, am I now able to hit them consistently?) but it's a nice way of injecting a little bit of star power into early matches where it's easy to be overwhelmed.

Naturally, you can also spend that VC in MyTeam, which is just as good as it ever has been at tickling the part of your brain that gets you completing daily objectives, but there's little truly new here, too.

The Verdict

NBA 2K24 showcases a franchise in need of going back to the fundamentals. Its clumsy implementation of VC is nothing new, but it's now actively hampering the rest of the game - especially given the disappointment of MyCareer.

And yet, on the court, NBA 2K24 remains the finest basketball sim I've played in years - it just needs to find its form again.

3/5

Reviewed on PlayStation 5. Review code provided by the publisher.

Lloyd is GGRecon's Editor-in-Chief, having previously worked at Dexerto and Gfinity, and occasionally appears in The Daily Star newspaper. A big fan of loot-based games including Destiny 2 and Diablo 4, when he's not working you'll find him at the gym or trying to play Magic The Gathering.