Death, Taxes, and NBA 2K games are things that come for us all at some time. This year, NBA 2K24 brings all the excitement of the court with some focus on Kobe Bryant & LeBron James, but does it hold up after NBA 2K23 dedicated a game to the career of the one and only GOAT: Michael Jordon? Will we, the players, be treated as welcome customers with a great game, or are we just nothing more than walking wallets that 2K Games want to drain? Only by playing NBA 2K24 can we find out.
Name: NBA 2K24
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (reviewed), Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Games
Game Type: Sports
Mode(s): Single Player, Multiplayer, Online
Release Date: September 8, 2023
Kids These Days
Alright, let’s get this one out of the way from the beginning. This year’s double threat of cover athletes is the late Kobe Bryant and current “GOAT” LeBron James, with both getting time in the spotlight via their own highlight modes. Mamba Moments sees you play some of the key moments in Kobe’s career in a challenges style, much like NBA 2K23 did with Michael Jordan last year. While some of these moments are great to play, there aren’t that many to do since Kobe’s great life was cut short. Making Mamba Moments something to be compared to the true GOAT Jordan but just not holding up to the standard we expect from a highlighted career
As for LeBron… Well… I don’t want to sound insulting, but he’s only here because Kobe’s mode is so short. I know LeBron is considered the modern-age GOAT of the game, but honestly, as someone who just doesn’t get the hype behind the guy, I find it hard to want to play anything to do with him as a game mode, especially when there are other legends out there with great histories who should be explored first. Example: Where’s my Shaq Era?
NBA 2K24 4K Graphics
One thing that I’ll never have an issue with the NBA 2K games is the graphics. As someone who likes to spend a lot of time replaying old retro games, I picked up a copy of NBA Live 96 on the PlayStation. Yes, I know that was EA Games, but they no longer have a license to produce NBA games. NBA Live 96 is harsh to watch/play in the modern day. Back then, the players were very generic looking, animation was slow due to low frame rates, AI was dumb as a brick, there was no crowd to see, and everything was blocky as hell.
Fast forward to NBA 2K24, and everything is pretty high-level. Everyone on the court looks almost like a photo-realistic copy of the actual players in the NBA, right down to tattoos and other markings. The court shines with a polish that makes you think you might fall over just touching a toe on it. Animations are so amazingly fluid and realistic thanks to 2K using a new render engine to transfer video of moves into clean CGI perfection. Frame rates are smooth at 60FPS. The evolution of the graphics when it comes to NBA games is truly amazing.
However, there is one small gripe that I noticed with NBA 2K24, and it’s the animations when it comes to celebrations. I think IGN’s review pointed this out, and since seeing in their review, I cannot unsee it when I play the game. Celebrations should be big things in the game, making things feel exciting and spectacular. NBA 2K24 mixes some good, cool celebrations with some very deadpan celebration animations, taking a lot of emotion out of the game when things should be hyping up.
New Year, Same Gameplay
Technically speaking, NBA 2K24 is just the same great simulation basketball gameplay that has been perfected over the decades by 2K Games. The AI has gotten a bit better when it comes to defense, so there are no more exploiting pick and rolls or other mechanics over and over to get quick points on the board. For those of you who love a simulation challenge, NBA 2K24 keeps up the high level of challenge that you’ve come to expect. I know this is short, but NBA 2K24 is the same high-level simulation gameplay you expect with the yearly roster update.
While this is great for some people, NBA 2K needs something new or different to set the game apart from previous entries… Maybe an NBA JAM mode where the rules and gravity no longer apply?
My NBA 2K24 Career, aka the VC Grind
My Career has been the main hub for both a single-player “story” campaign and the online portion of NBA 2K games. While there is very little story in My Career this time around, there are a lot of microtransactions instead. If you want to increase your player’s skill ratings, you have two options: Grind VC (virtual currency) or Buy VC. Do you want to buy some new clothes to show off some sweet drip? Grind VC or Buy VC. If you choose to grind VC, then expect there to be a ssssssslllllllllllloooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwww drip feed upon getting it through games or other means. If you choose to buy, then open up that wallet and throw anywhere from $3.35 for 5,000 VC to $250 for 700,000 VC.
If you want to play online, then buying VC is a must. I had access to 100,000 VC from the review copy I got, and that only got me up to an overall rating of 70. I jumped online expecting to see people like myself all over the place and maybe get some even matches going… Nope! I’m walking around seeing people in the mid to high-90 ratings all over the place, and this was only a week after the game launched, so there was no way they could grind this out in that amount of time unless they were streamers or no-lifers. I’m betting deep pockets are at play here.
I will give My Career this, though, the new 1980s Miami-looking area is really cool to look at, with a lot of amazing and creative-looking locations for you to go and play some ball at… Of course, stores are all over the place, so you can spend some VC.
More like NBA 2KNeedsToBePaid
When it comes to NBA 2K24, two things really stand out to me. The first is from a personal perspective, where I think I have outgrown the need to play a realistic simulation basketball game. Much like WWE 2K24, NBA 2K24 has become too wrapped up in being a simulation game first and a video game second. I’m missing the days of the Arcade sports game where going over the top and throwing half the rules out the window was the norm, and just having a good time was the only priority… I miss NBA JAM games…
The second thing that stands out to me is a huge negative. NBA 2K24 really pushes its microtransactions onto the player in the My Career mode, the main single-player and online mode. Even with the bonus 100,000 VC that you get with the Mamba Edition, you can only really get into the mid-70s with your own character, and that means missing out on all the drip you could buy… Then you go online only to be met with other players who have deep pockets and have maxed out their characters on day one. It’s a big divide between the haves and have-nots in gaming. This is not what you should be seeing when gaming.
Review Disclosure Statement: NBA 2K24 was provided to us by 2K Games for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
NBA 2K24 shows that there is a bigger problem with gaming today. While you can get a good game out there if you decide to make it into a “games as a service” model with the main goal being purchased over skill, the game itself gets lost under an avalanche of hate because of corporate greed. NBA 2K24 is the game that shows this to be true. As a game, NBA 2K24 is the same great game it always is, but the hard push for you to open your wallet hurt the game too much overall… And Michael Jordan is the GOAT.
- Graphics are solid with smooth animations
- Gameplay is solid
- My Career location feels more like a community than a hub
- Hard push for microtransactions
- Bryant/James highlight modes can’t touch Jordan/2K23
- Needs something new to set it apart from previous games