Another year, another NBA 2K comes and hits the court for another round of hoops. Virtual Concepts has been creating and perfecting its brand of basketball for decades, and this iteration is the best iteration to hit next-generation platforms yet. That aside, how much enjoyment you get out of NBA 2K24 will vary. If you never miss a year, then you will know what to expect. If you are a lapsed fan, then be prepared for great animations, terrible monetization, and a complicated mess of RPG progression systems to make Baldur’s Gate 3 seem simple. Our NBA 2K24 review will talk about the good and the bad.
Story: Sponsorships and Street Ball
Yes, NBA 2K24 does have a story, and it can’t help but throw it at you every time you create your player and enter the career mode. If you haven’t played a sports game in quite some time, it’s pretty ambitious. It has a vast open world, with many characters to meet, cutscenes to watch, and players to dunk on.
The story is straightforward: your father is an all-star, and you’re trying to live up to the legend. It’s rife with almost every stereotype you can find in a sports book. The voice acting is also awful, and once the first season is over, the plot pretty much wraps up and is gone, regardless of how you perform. It’s best to ignore the story and get to the highlight of NBA 2K24, the on-the-court action itself.
Gameplay: Responsive and Beautiful
NBA 2k has always excelled at the basketball action itself, and during my NBA 2K24 review time, it’s clear that hasn’t changed. I’m not a pro-level player; I’m casual in every sense of the word, but even I could feel a difference due to their new ProPLAY system. It supposedly records real NBA games to simulate all the action on the court and create the most immersive basketball experience. I’m not sure how much this new system is actually affecting the moment-to-moment gameplay, but I have noticed a lot more lanes opening up and less bunching up around the paint.
The speed of the game feels snappier as a result, and overall, NBA 2K24 feels responsive and quick, something that has been missing as realistic animations have taken priority over responsive controls. It looks and feels like the real thing, and once you get accustomed to the feel of the action, it’s all quite familiar for anybody who has touched a 2K game in the last few years.
Sadly, the gameplay falls apart when you engage with anything relayed to MyPlayer mode, and its onslaught of confusing menus. It’s full of RPG progression systems layered on each other while screaming at your wallet every step of the way. This isn’t exactly news, as NBA 2K has been rotten with microtransactions in the past, but each year, it’s pretty amusing to see how much more they cram into the game at every turn. It almost feels like I’m being punished for trying to level up my player through on-the-court theatrics, over opening my wallet, dropping a hundred bucks to have good stats, and calling it a day.
Graphics and Audio: Fresh Kicks
One thing was abundantly clear during my NBA 2K24 review experience: this game looks as incredible as it always has. Player faces, hairstyles, and even basketballs have never looked better. Beyond the character models, the animations set it apart from any competition. Each post-up, pivot, layup, and dunk are incredibly lifelike and meticulous in the attention to detail with each step.
The sound is excellent as always, the commentary feels fresh, and even after an entire season of play, you rarely hear the same lines repeated, The presentation changes during the playoffs and finals are great. Music, well, that’s so subjective. You either love the tunes, or you will mute it for your own playlist selection.
Conclusion: Balls in Your Court
NBA 2k24 provides a stellar game of on-the-court basketball. Its main issues haven’t changed in years: clumsy storytelling and some of the worst microtransactions in the business. At this point, everybody knows about them, and you have to make your peace with them or not. As somebody who despises them, I was enjoying my time in the career mode despite feeling like I could barely make progress unless I spent actual money. Online play is also a ton of fun, but it can be tough to keep up with the sheer number of players who don’t mind dropping significant cash on upgrading their stats and abilities. If you can look past that, NBA 2K24 is a slam dunk of an experience, even if the rest of the game does its best to keep it on the bench.
*Review copy given by publisher; title reviewed on Xbox Series X.*