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NBA 2K24 Review: Back In The Game, For Better Or Worse

  • Revolutionary ProPLAY technology
  • Enhanced on-the-court gameplay mechanics
  • Refreshing narrative for MyCAREER
  • Overemphasis on realism hinders gameplay fluidity
  • Persistent focus on microtransactions
  • Another year, another coat of polish

A PS5 review code for "NBA 2K24" was provided to SVG for this review. The game is available now on PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

As a beacon of basketball simulation, the "NBA 2K" series has cemented its reputation over a quarter of a century, evolving ever so meticulously — whether or not players want to admit to that — with each iteration. With its devout fan base constantly fueling its innovations, the franchise is celebrated for bringing authentic NBA simulation gaming experiences to players worldwide. As the franchise celebrates its silver jubilee with "NBA 2K24," the expectation for something monumental burgeons. 2K has pulled off some pretty impressive feats with this installment. However, despite the advancements, the game fails to fully break free from the chains of its past, retaining issues that have dogged it for years.


Without a doubt, the highlight of "NBA 2K24" is its revolutionary ProPLAY technology introduced in this edition. The feature is a triumph in gaming technology, harnessing the raw, unfiltered movements and emotions captured from real NBA players, ditching the earlier reliance on motion-captured actor performances. Players like Aaron Gordon and Jamal Murray (*ahem* NBA champions, that is) come to life in an uncanny manner, mirroring their real-life nuances with a degree of accuracy that's nothing short of stunning.

The fresh gameplay enhancements are nothing to scoff at, either. The revamped interior defense and dribble combo controls allow for a more skill-based and rewarding play. Newcomers and veterans alike can find joy in the intuitive and accessible shooting and dribbling mechanics, a testament to the meticulous craftsmanship of the game and the art of shooting.


A mixed bag of realism

The gameplay in "NBA 2K24" is somewhat a double-edged sword. On one hand, the controls — once mastered — offer a level of immersion that makes the basketball itself feel like an extension of your body. On the other hand, the game clings to its slow-moving slog that disrupts the immersive experience. Unskippable screens and moments meant to simulate a TV-style game presentation often feel like unnecessary roadblocks when you're just trying to get back on the court.


Despite being a simulation, the game at times leans too heavily into realism, creating moments that, while authentic, hinder the fluidity and pace of a video game experience. The continuous balancing act between simulation and enjoyable gameplay seems to be slightly off-kilter, unable to fully satisfy either spectrum. This is ultimately the nature of the beast when it comes to modern sports games, though, whether you're trying to skip a timeout screen on the court, or quickly move past an on-field penalty call in "Madden 24."

The MyCAREER mode attempts to shake off the franchise's penchant for underdog stories, instead placing players in the shoes of the most exciting NBA prospect since LeBron James. This narrative shift is refreshing, fostering a sense of grandeur and expectation that's exhilarating to explore, coming with a bit of added pressure. The entire "NBA 2K" ecosystem is at your disposal, offering a rich narrative and gaming experience.


However, this can quickly turn overwhelming, especially for newcomers. The sprawling ecosystem, though immersive, threatens to engulf the uninitiated, potentially making you wish for a more streamlined approach to career progression. Despite this, the new Key Games feature is a notable addition, allowing players to immerse themselves in pivotal games that shape their career trajectory.

Microtransactions: The persistent thorn

You knew that we had to talk about this. One of the major sore points of the franchise has been its relentless emphasis on microtransactions. Unfortunately, "NBA 2K24" not only continues this trend, but seems to amplify it, with menu pop-ups constantly nudging players to open their wallets. While it is possible to enjoy the game without spending any additional money, the allure of premium content, especially for competitive online play, is designed to be almost irresistible.


No matter what game you're playing, this approach feels increasingly predatory, disregarding the vocal criticisms from the community year after year. The glaring focus on microtransactions detracts from the game's many positives, making the gaming experience feel less like a celebration of basketball and more like a commercial venture. We can only continue to hope that in the future, either "NBA 2K" reins in this emphasis or a worthy competitor emerges to challenge the status quo. That, of course, will be ultimately determined by the community and its willingness or refusal to vote with their dollars.

Despite these grievances, "NBA 2K24" is not without its moments of brilliance. The tribute to Kobe Bryant through the Mamba Moments mode allows players to relive some of the legend's most iconic performances, fostering a deep connection with basketball history and Bryant's greatness. Similarly, features like MyTEAM and MyNBA continue to offer endless hours of customizable fun, allowing players to assemble dream teams and experiment with line-ups from different eras, while the W also returns with fresh avenues to pursue greatness, offering players a chance to test their mettle against some of the WNBA's most skilled stars.


A smidgen of a step forward

"NBA 2K24," in its 25th-anniversary edition, brings a host of innovations and improvements to the table, showcasing once again why it is the premier choice for basketball simulation gaming (Ok ... it's the only choice). The addition of ProPLAY technology is a remarkable step forward in the series' attempt at realism, providing an almost surreal on-court experience.


Yet, the game fails to fully rise above its predecessors, held back by persistent issues that mar the overall experience. The overwhelming focus on microtransactions feels more pronounced than ever, overshadowing the game's many stellar aspects. Moreover, the game seems trapped in a continuous cycle of polishing existing elements rather than fully revolutionizing the gaming experience — and still, it has plenty of miscues, such as overlapping audio that occurs surprisingly often.

We can only hope that future installments will heed the community's feedback and pave the way for a truly revolutionary "NBA 2K" experience. And, hopefully, they'll also put some respect on Jokic's name. A 98 overall rating? C'mon.