Right off the bat, I’m going to say that a lot of this review might involve me complaining about post-retail expenses. That’s because NBA 2K20 shamelessly continues the trend of bombarding players with microtransaction prompts. I don’t exaggerate when I say bombarding either. This is because there’s a banner and prompt at almost every screen. It’s so frustrating when selling at full price isn’t enough to satisfy some hungry developers. Anyways, with that out of the way, let me focus on the review the best I can.
To start off, the visuals of the game were pretty dope. Obviously there were times where the fish eye effect was pretty prominent. You know what I mean, characters becoming blank and emotionless for short bursts. It’s especially prominent in sports video games like NBA, Madden and Fifa. It’s excusable at this point since in the end it IS a video game after all.
2K Sports has done a descent job with the visuals. The graphics and details were pretty well done in this game. Especially with how every player did look exactly like their real life counterparts. Details ranging from facial features, the fabric and physics of clothes and even the finer details on the shoes themselves were pretty good. The essence of each powerful step on the court was captured really well.
The feel of dribbling and taking the ball from one side of the court to the other was also nicely captured. You actually did immerse yourself into the game, either as a person playing, or even as someone watching. That’s one thing I do like about NBA 2K20, it’s one of those games that are also fun as hell to just watch with your friends while one of you plays. Or to even play together, the game is competitive.
As was done with Fifa, NBA 2K20 also focused on improving the Defense AI this year. I think a lot of sports games developers have realized that there are glaring openings in the defense of the teams when the player isn’t controlling them. It’s a good thing NBA 2K20 covered that up since there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing your team just let the strikers past you.
NBA 2K20 gives you a grasp of the basics pretty quickly with its tutorial mode. One thing it does that I wish a lot more games did is that while giving you input prompts, it also displays what you’re supposed to do via a virtual controller on the screen. This is great to illustrate the instruction to the player and even allow them to mimic it. I found myself getting used to certain inputs pretty quickly with the help of that display.
Regarding controls, the way dribbling was done in this game was far better than the previous games. I’m glad I can say that it’s an actual improvement otherwise what’s the point of sequels right? The dribbling in this game is more fluid than it’s ever been within the franchise. Specifically because it’s not animations just crammed together that transition into each other brokenly. Rather it’s a proper fluid motion from start to finish and when you actually genuinely fuck up, it’s on you and you alone. The animations are also different for each player, shorter ones dribbling faster and lower while the lanky boys take big strides across the court. All the different visuals were a treat to watch regardless.
Another gameplay mechanic in NBA 2k20 has to do with the implementation of badges in your players. These badges are like perks or points to put into your favorite player to give them gimicky benefits. This is where the video game part of NBA 2K20 really shines. You can get badges like the pogo stick for example, that allows you to regroup after a blocked shot to block another one if the need arises that soon.
Besides the main gameplay itself, NBA 2K20 did fall pretty short in its other game modes. MyLeague wasn’t worse than previous entries but it was just untouched. Nothing was done outside of a handful of convenient features that were added. Things like forcing a specific result in the longer run of things. One thing I will give props to MyLeague is for excluding microtransactions entirely, it’s a miracle that you can do that in any point of this grindfest. On the other hand, MyLeague isn’t multiplayer. Sad shit really.
MyTeam, boy oh boy where do I start with you. Alright, one thing I’ll say about this game mode is that it definitely doesn’t end at any point at all. That does give it the advantage of being played out in the long run when you’re done with every other part of NBA 2K20. MyTeam is the staple sports game mode of compiling a team of the best players in the actual sport. However, another thing they share in common is how much they’ll milk the players for money. That’s because MyTeam is a glorified gambling game mode. It’s where the whole surprise mechanics meme came from in the first place as well.
The best part is that NBA 2K20 doesn’t put any effort into trying to hide the fact that MyTeam is literally just gambling. That much was made really damn evident in how the whole UI is that of a Casino. Even down to the soul sucking slot machine that lands on almost anything you don’t want. Sure, people out there have had better experiences where the slots rolled in their favor but that’s just the thing. It’s all RNG and that really makes me despise the game. Especially when they charge upto $10 for each pack to open. You can argue that they give you tasks to grind for instead but these tasks exist solely to push you towards just buying the packs themselves.
The career mode of NBA 2K20 was one of the few redeeming factors besides the core gameplay itself. It shared a pretty compelling story as a character you create, something the franchise has experimented on and done pretty well. Hopefully they continue to build upon this self-made career mode.
Obviously the NBA game line retains the same audience it has for ages. I honestly think that if they dropped the money making machine concept and focused on the gameplay, they could attract a lot more. Instead they insist on the same formula which is normally suited for free to play games but these guys don’t seem to know that. As long as it sells I suppose.