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Review: Turn Back the Clock with NBA 2K23

Nostalgia and authenticity are the name of the game this year!
nba 2k23 Devin Booker cover art
Image via Visual Concepts

NBA 2K games have long been heralded as some of the better sports video games on the market. From the sheer depth and immerson of MyPlayer down to the addicting qualities of MyTeam. While each of the past few installations have seen massive improvements in terms of graphics and gameplay, is it possible that NBA 2K23 is the best NBA 2K game of all time?

Oozing with nostalgia, NBA 2K23 goes above and beyong in terms of content delivery and authenticity. Not only does the game feature more WNBA content than ever before, including some serious improvements to The W. But NBA 2K23 also sees the return of Jordan Challenges, the addition of MyNBA Eras, and an entirely new MyPlayer story for players to sink their teeth into.

The truth is that a lot of game modes have either been added or completely revamped from years past. In this review, we will break down and grade NBA 2K23 as a whole.

NBA 2K23 Review Biggest Takeaways

  • The game looks as real as it ever looked in NBA 2K23, photorealism at its finest
  • Attention to presentation and graphics detail is remarkable (specifically with the era-specific stuff)
  • Adrenaline boosts are effective, but slightly overpowered
  • Delayed green with player shots adds a little more excitement
  • Dunk meter looks like the shot meter now, feels more intuitive
  • Final Score: 9/10

In-Depth and Immersive Gameplay

Over the last few years, the gameplay in NBA 2K has evolved dramatically, but none more than NBA 2K23. Now, we’re at the point where it’s genuinely intimidating the depth of control a player has both with and without the ball in their hands. While the ins and outs of the gameplay mechanics are fairly similar to years past, the controls are now far more strict, particularly on offense. In NBA 2K23, players are granted far more control over each player, and pulling off ankle-breaking crossovers or step-backs is easier than ever before thanks to the new and improved pro stick.

Not only are there more ways to control the tempo of the game with the ball in your hands, but the shot selection system has vastly improved also. Comparing it to NBA 2K22, I feel like it’s going to be much easier for players of all skill levels to knock down long-range three-pointers at a high clip. In NBA 2K23, there’s a bar that will appear every time you wind up to take a shot from long-range. The better the shooter you are, the bigger the green icon, and when you hit green exactly, you’re pretty much guaranteed an easy three points. There’s also new feedback for every shot you take in the form of shot arcs, which show where a player went wrong.

Related: Review – The Aura of John Madden Lives on in Madden 23

Also, there are some new flair passes that have been added to the game, as well as some mesmerizing dunk animations. In fact, between all of the different skill moves and player animations, I think NBA 2K23 is the most robust game in the series to date. Featuring more ways to personalize your game and get creative with what you’re able to do on the floor. Plus, there are even adrenaline boosts now as well, which are designed to limit how often you can dribble or play aggressively.

Despite there being more technicalities with the shooting and dribbling mechanics, it shouldn’t take very long to get used to, even if NBA 2K23 is your first NBA 2K game. Tiredness and fatigue still play a role in how effective you’ll be at pulling off these maneuvers on the court, but the mechanics are still fairly straightforward and intuitive. On the court, this is easily the best-feeling 2K game ever.

Innovative Take on MyPlayer

Putting all of your favorite players together on one court in MyTeam is fun and all, but MyPlayer still reigns supreme in NBA 2K23. It’s where most players are going to spend the majority of their time and there are even more side stories and challenges to live out your dream of becoming an NBA superstar. While you can scan and import your own face to MyPlayer, you’ll be known around The City as “MP”.

Over the last few years, NBA 2K has attempted to get more creative with the MyCareer story. Allowing players to have more control over their pre-NBA basketball comes up with the inclusion of college and high school backstories. Now, in NBA 2K23, you get to choose which team you get drafted to and climb your way up the NBA rankings to become a household name. However, you’re constantly overshadowed by your archrival, Shep Owens, who gets drafted after you but garners more attention.

Your job is to prove why the team you chose drafted you, and eclipse Shep as the next star of the league. Throughout your MyCareer journey, you will also encounter several cameos, and get the opportunity to enhance your social media presence, which we all know is pivotal for every athlete’s success. Plus, Grammy-nominated artist and producer, J. Cole, has also been added to MyPlayer along with his own Dreamville Studio. Where players can go to meet Cole himself, befriend him and use this relationship to advance over others in The City. Which too has been revamped with new vehicles (like skateboards and go-karts) and even races involving those items too.

There’s also a new Leadership Skill tree in NBA 2K23 MyCareer, where you can either decide to be a Trailblazer, with brash responses. Or a General, with a more diplomatic approach to situations. Depending on which you choose, there will be various on-court objectives, like making a certain number of assists or shots from a specific range. Completing each of these objectives will give both you and your team a huge boost in the game.

Nostalgic Jordan Challenges

When NBA 2K11 first dropped, one of the first things I remember immersing myself in was the Jordan Challenges. Which placed you in the shoes of Michael to recreate ten of his greatest performances of all time to claim some exclusive rewards. Now, one of my personal favorite game modes in NBA 2K history returns in NBA 2K23, with the addition of more Jordan moments from his illustrious NBA career.

The Jordan Challenge is designed to allow you to play through some of the most memorable moments from MJs career. Essentially operating as a playable museum in NBA 2K23. Where players can go to not just learn more about the history of the NBA, but also one of the greatest basketball players to ever lace them up. Despite being one of the headline features in the game, the entire experience still blew me away.

The Jordan Challenges begin in 1982, with Jordan competing for the North Carolina Tar Heels in the National Championship. This is a moment that wasn’t featured in NBA 2K11, so, it’s a fantastic place to start for both amateur and experienced players alike. The best part is that you even get to take part in pre-match interviews with real-life people who were actually at each event, explaining the significance of every moment. There are even filters over the gameplay that takes you back to the time period visually.

Past that, you’ll also get to compete in a 1984 Team USA Scrimmage, Game 2 between the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics, when MJ scored 63 points. As well as Game 5 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1989 leading all the way up to the Last Dance in 1998. This is only a handful of MJ moments you’ll get to relive, so, I won’t spoil the remainder for you.

Experience Greatness with MyNBA Eras

Speaking of nostalgia, NBA 2K23 also catapults us into a time machine with MyNBA Eras. Traveling back to one of four different time periods to attempt to take your team to playoff glory. Players will get to choose between The Magic vs. Bird Era, which takes you back to 1983 to build a championship contender around a young prospect named Michael Jordan. The Jordan Era takes place in 1991 and highlights Shaquille O’Neal’s rise to fame. The Kobe Era provides the opportunity to draft generational talent like O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James. And finally, The Modern Era, which takes place in 2022 and is essentially the standard edition of MyNBA.

Regardless of which era you choose, you’ll get to experience a handful of improved base features in MyNBA as well. Including some new and improved RPG features, providing players more control over how they’d like to interact with their franchise and the staff. As well as new RPG skill trees and a more intuitive layout for staff management. Not to mention just an all-around better presentation of MyNBA, with improved UI, menus, and simulation effects. Including faster simulation times, even over multiple seasons.

With all of this being said, my personal favorite feature of the MyNBA Eras in NBA 2K23 is the depiction of these players. You would think that when you travel back in time nearly 40 years, minor details might get cut from the action. However, in MyNBA Eras, all of the rosters for each team are incredibly accurate, down to the least relevant bench warmer who probably never saw more than 2 minutes a night. Obviously, with the massive roster depth comes less accurate physical portrayals of a few of these players, but it’s nevertheless a fun experience for every NBA fan or historian.

Personally, I think adding this feature was fantastic, but the most exciting part is to think of the implications for other sports games. Just imagine if Madden or FIFA incorporated their own version of MyNBA Eras, bringing players back to the days of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice or Pele and Ronaldinho.

All things considered, if you’re a fan of basketball and the NBA, specifically learning more about the history of the league and some of its players. Then NBA 2K23 is arguably the greatest basketball game of all time. It built off some of the more enjoyable features from NBA 2K22 and NBA 2K21 while adding in a nice blend of history and nostalgia. Obviously, there have been a few bugs and glitches, which come with every new game. Although, I still believe NBA 2K23 was well worth the wait and is a great investment for both old and new players alike.

NBA 2K23 is now available on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC. If you’re interested in more NBA 2K23 content, be sure to check out our guides section here at Gamer Journalist. Where you can find tons of helpful information such as how to get MyTeam points fast or how to get traded in NBA 2K23.

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